Throughout my teen years (and well into my ad, I wanted by to be liked in a large crowd, but I often felt overshadowed and unable to express my personality. It wasn’t until late high school and into my college years, I figured out what was “wrong” with me. I’m an introvert, which just means I gain my energy from being alone. For me it also means I do my best thinking when I’m quiet and alone, and this often translates into my thoughts being too slow to be relevant when I’m surrounded by a large group.
It was only through realizing and appreciating my personality that I began to figure out how to make it in this world where extrovertism is valued. Think about it. Group work is pushed in school, and team collaboration is a hot topic in most work environments. There is value placed on always being busy. Leaders get their positions because they speak up. Because of this societal standard, I have to adapt. Each day, I put on the guise of someone who thrives on being around people when I really crave quiet. This does not mean I can’t enjoy people time. In fact there are times I crave social interaction, but too much and I start to feel the need to be still and quiet even if all around me is bustling.
I often feel overlooked because I am introspective. In a crowded room, I tend to become the observer with an occasional comment. My senses become so overloaded that I just have to step back and let others take the stage no matter how badly I want to be noticed. This is one reason I write; in a world where thoughts are spoken loudly and fast, I often feel as if my thoughts move too slowly and are spoken too quietly to be heard. When I write, I have time to get my words out before someone else interrupts or speaks over me. This is also why I make walking a part of my schedule almost every day. After a day of teaching and interacting, I need that thirty minutes to an hour of just quiet. While I do enjoy walks with other people, I also need time with just my head.
The beautiful thing is that the world needs all types of people: introvert, extrovert, and everything in between. God created the world full of people with all kinds of personalities because humans reflect God’s character which contains both introvert and extrovert qualities. Sometimes God speaks loudly as when he created the world or sent storms. Sometimes he, in his human form of Jesus, was seen surrounded by large crowds. Other times though, God speaks very quietly in the stillness of our hearts. He tells us to be still. Even Jesus needed to get away from the crowds.
I encourage the introverts to value your personality. For a long time I felt as if something was wrong with me because I didn’t want to be at the center of the party or even at the party sometimes. I wondered why even when I wanted attention, no one seemed to be able to hear me. Then I started to be okay with who I am. That’s when I realized there are things people can appreciate about introverts. I’ve been told that, when I fully embrace my personality and stop striving, I can be very good at listening. Finally, while you’re appreciating your personality, do stretch yourself a bit to live in the extroverted world.
To the extroverts, I encourage you to continue being who you are but occasionally be quiet and let the introverts shine a bit. Appreciate those quiet beings as a needed contrast to your own vivacious personality. Finally reach out to an introvert who needs to get out of their head, but do be ready to spend different time together than you would with another extrovert.
(Many of my thoughts for this post were kickstarted my a series of Ted Talks on the Ted Radio hour by John Francis, Susan Cain, and Megan Washington. I suggest you check out their individual Ted Talks or the entire radio hour.)