Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Society

For the longest time I thought I was just socially awkward. Going up and talking to people randomly wasn’t my thing and when I would try to break out of my comfort zone I never knew what to say to people. Small talk seemed really shallow to me and my ability to facilitate a conversation revolving around small talk for an extended period of time is very limited.

On the first Sunday of this new semester, I was sitting in Bible class next to my friend Alex. For a few minutes I was good. I saw people who I knew well or had seen a few times before Bible class, but then the droves of new people started to come in and all of sudden I became tense. My heart instantly started to pound out of my chest.

So I told Alex, “So, I’m an introvert and all these people are kind of freaking me out.”

And what did she say in response…”Did you just call yourself and introvert?”

And to that I said, “Yes, it’s how I explain me to other people.”

I knew I needed to talk to at least some of these people, and don’t get me wrong! I was glad there were so many new students, but there were just so many of them! So, I channeled my pseudo-extrovert and got to meeting and greeting.

With experience and watching how people (a.k.a. extroverts) interact with others, my pseudo-extroverted self has gotten a lot more polished, but for the longest time I would often asked myself how does one “people” and am I the only one who struggles with “peopling”?

How does one people?

Am I the only one who struggles with “peopling”?

It’s not that I hate people. I actually like people and generally, I have a positive perception of most people I meet for the first time. But when I find myself in a new environment or new people and things start to infiltrate the environment I’m used to my anxiety levels spike instantly.

Right now, you might be thinking, “this girl has some serious mental issues” or “something is wrong with her” and I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that because I used to think that about myself all the time. But then I started to pick up on the fact that maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with me when I started taking psychology in high school and when I took a personality psychology class last Fall.

And then I read the second greatest book in the world (right behind the Bible) and discovered that I wasn’t mentally ill or an anomaly in society. I found out what I think I had known about myself for a while I just never had a label for it.

The truth is I’m an introvert and Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, helped me realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Cain makes so many great points in this book such as “The Extrovert Ideal” that exists in America and how the corporate and educational worlds are designed specifically to meet the needs and communication styles of extroverts. She also talks about how this “Extrovert Ideal” often hurts the success of students and professionals regardless of their personality type and in turn effects all industries throughout the country. She also provides practical advice on how extroverts can better understand and interact with more cerebral people, but also how introverts can push their own boundaries and take advantage of their strengths and weaknesses in the best ways. And she does all of this without knocking the value that extroverts add to our society.

In her thoroughly researched book, Cain bundles some of the greatest personality psychology discoveries made on the dichotomous personality types all into one perfect package.

So, if you haven’t guessed it, then I would recommend everyone read this book because all introverts would like to know they aren’t alone and all extroverts would benefit from understanding a little bit about the introverts in there lives. 

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