The Tug of War for Acceptance: Society vs. Introversion

We all fall somewhere in the continuum of extroversion and introversion. And the same person can exhibit extroverted or introverted traits in different contexts. 

While I’m not big on personality tests—as I do feel like they try to box people—it seems my preference is for introversion. This is from personal observation and as per the tests taken.

 

In a group of excitement–filled, active children, he always stands out. The others may be engrossed in a screaming match, running and jumping around, trying to attract the attention of whoever may offer it.

He may rejoin the group now and then, but then, as if the flip of a switch, he withdraws into an activity that seems to be of little interest to the rest and goes quiet.

Keeping to himself, the little boy may immerse himself in what’s showing on the telly. If it isn’t interesting, he picks up a phone and starts navigating the device for anything engaging.

If you aren’t paying attention, you might miss the moments when he smiles to himself about something he only knows about. 

Other times, he may burst into a hearty laugh at a joke other people in the room have missed, reminding you of his presence.

 

Often, I have to catch myself when I feel the urge to nudge the little boy to loosen up a little bit and engage more with the group. 

Unfortunately, this reflects society’s attitude towards introversion, which has been deemed an unsuitable quality for a long time—one that needs changing. Such is reflected in the experience of introverts.

Steps in the Right Direction, or is it?

As we learn more about these quiet, somewhat aloof, “weird” creatures, our attitudes towards them are also changing: from the tendency to criticize them to adopting a more positive outlook towards introversion.

Even so, I feel there’s still much to do in attaining full acceptance or tolerance for introversion—because an extrovert is still considered one with the ideal nature to achieving sociability.

 


Surprising Fact 1: 

The Myers Briggs Company, in 2018, collected a global representative sample that indicates an increase in preference for introversion: a rise from a previous 49-51% to 56.8%. 🤯


 

In a world where many crave to be the center of attention and do anything to get it, a temperate person is deemed detached. It’s no wonder that an introvert is often regarded as asocial. 

Not in the sense of acknowledging their need to rejuvenate by avoiding social interaction, but with the insinuation that this desire for privacy is detrimental to achieving a cohesive society. Mainly because this goes against the grain of what is considered normal.

Try to speak up and show emotion; participate in the group and not just observe, they urge.

Live a little, go out some more, you recluse. Engage in small talk; smile; it makes you more genial, they may bug.

Just get out of your comfort zone!

We constantly jostle with incessant opinions of others on the things we could or couldn’t do to make others, extroverts, comfortable around us. 

 

Needing to get out of her thoughts, and with the hope that a change of scenery could do her some good, she musters the energy to step out into the social scene. These are often the days when isolation becomes overbearing and jumping off any edge beguiling. 

Once out, sometimes anxiety kicks in, and thoughts begin to pester her to go back to seclusion. 

“What did you get yourself into?” she ponders, over and over. Unable to immerse herself in anything that’s going on. 

As this happens, she might have a look of boredom or seem disengaged from the surroundings. On the off-chance, someone initiates an intriguing conversation or activity; she may enthusiastically join intemporarily forgetting her desire to get out. 

She’s finally opening up, you might think. Not as uptight as you had earlier thought.

In the next encounter, you expect her to show the same gusto that she had before, but it seems she has drawn back to her shell. She appears distant from the group, even when only a few people are new.

It’s a never-ending cycle: one minute, she’s actively participating in group activities, and the next, she’s asking herself why she even attempted to be around these many people.

 

An Introvert’s Perspective

Introverts are often assigned negative labels: impolite, unkind, mean, uptight, stuck-up, etc. All the while, the “crime” we are commonly guilty of is wanting to be by ourselves, more times than others would like. 

Sometimes, in a group of people, one may stare into space, conjuring up new worlds or pondering over things they would like to do. But that makes them aloof and a downer— who’ll probably bring down the mood.

When one is drained of social interaction, one may keep a straight face to keep their nerves from showing. However, we are often judged as snobs. Still, we will gladly share a warm smile with anyone who politely invades our personal space.

Wherever you may turn, there’s always someone to badger you to exhibit extroverted tendencies. But, we are not broken people who need fixing; maybe society has to change its perspective.

And, if extroversion is an acceptable trait in society, shouldn’t we view introversion in equal measure? Moreover, since we are often “encouraged” to endure being in the presence of extroverts, shouldn’t we also receive the same freedoms? 

 


Surprising fact 2: Apparently, since 2011, Jan 2 is World Introvert Day; who knew!


 

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