Giving Introverts A Hard Time

I came across an article written by Vanessa Barford of BBC. The topic surrounded introverts living in a world that values extroverts:

… contrary to popular opinion, introverts are not necessarily shy or anti-social, they just prefer environments that are not over-stimulating and get their energy from quiet time and reflection.

There is little question that I am introverted. I often find the mere thought of a highly-crowded environment debilitating. These overly-stimulating situations are exhausting. In most cases, I become quiet - analyzing my surroundings or deeply thinking about a familiar topic. If in a meeting, I do not often offer an immediate opinion or speak up on agenda items. Unfortunately, my actions are often misinterpreted and I am thought to be an ass.

I am not quiet because I dislike people. I very much enjoy the company of others. In fact, once I am comfortable with a person, I can talk their heads off. Understanding the window through which others view the world is one of my favorite things about conversation. I am a better person for having gotten to know so many different people.

I am not hesitant to attend events because I am apathetic toward friendship. My absence from social events is not meant as a snub. My friends may be few compared with the average person, but I intensely value their camaraderie. The thought of trying to achieve that same level of friendship with strangers can simply overwhelm me.

My lack of boisterous participation in meetings is not rooted in absence of opinion. I am driven by a profound fear of my self-perceived limitations. When someone gives a quick and loud opinion, I immediately worry that I do not fully understand the issue. Accordingly, I often approach everything with an overly-analyzing eye - choosing to defer an opinion until I achieve their seeming level of confidence. As Barford references, my creativity is best when I am able to quietly reflect.

To the introverts, know that there are many who share your way of processing life. You are not weird. Your self-nature is not something from which you must recover - it is simply who you are as a person. Remain confident and forge ahead.

To the extroverts, our quietness does not necessarily equate to anger or apathy. Don’t assume our absence or limited participation at events is anti-social in nature. You needn’t tell us that we are shy and need to speak up. I assure you that no one is more keenly self-aware than introverts. We are constantly trying to fit the mold of what society expects. As the famous saying goes, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.