Over the years, whether it be from school, other people in my life, or society as a whole, there would always seem to be someone or something who was dissatisfied with how I was choosing to live my life because of who I am as a person. These situations include not talking very much, preferring to do work on my own rather than in groups, spending time alone to recharge my social battery, or startling them when I appeared behind them because "you were so quiet that I didn't hear you!" In other words, I am an introvert.
Of course, the plight of introverts around the world is significantly less noteworthy compared to the truly horrible things (between the wildly extreme and the subtlety of institutional hierarchies) that go on in this world, but it is still a problem nonetheless. What I'm talking about has previously been summarized by other introverted speakers. Susan Cain, author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" gave a TED Talk back in 2014 about her own experiences.
She explained that while there can be pressure from our peers to act a certain way, they are often reinforced by how our society has been established. For example, many instructors like to encourage group projects in their classes in order to teach the importance of collaborative effort for a mutual cause. I agree with this idea because there are multiple vital skills involved such as effective communication and leadership in some cases, but not when it's enforced as the only valid way of getting things done. Cain pointed out that some teachers would misinterpret a quiet student as one who didn't understand the material or just needed more practice in a group setting, yet a strict curriculum and method of teaching doesn't always account for the fact that every student has different needs when it comes to learning.
From relatives to friends to complete strangers, the same line of thinking also occurs within social parameters. A person who prefers to be more reserved is sometimes perceived as bored by the conversation or simply stuck up. In reality, the person may just be enjoying the atmosphere of the setting and the people they are with. In groups, the person may have a hard time contributing to the conversation in fear of accidentally interrupting others, and soon enough the opportunity has been missed anyway because the topic of discussion changed just as quickly as it appeared.
Sure, there are benefits to collaborating and socializing, but consider the alternatives. When you work by yourself, you can learn how to manage time, tackle labor-intensive tasks, and be able to come up with plans A-Z when facing an unexpected problem. When you spend a quiet night in, you can learn to enjoy your own company, self-soothe in times of distress, and reflect on different aspects of your life.
To paraphrase Cain, I'm not saying that the superior way of living would be everyone isolating themselves to a remote corner of the earth; the pleasures of life are fun to share and we all need a shoulder to cry on from time to time. What we need is like a balanced scale that tips a certain way every so often depending on the situation.
That being said, it's perfectly okay to naturally lean one way or the other. If you're an extrovert, surround yourself with people. If you're an introvert, hide in your apartment for the weekend. If you're an ambivert, do whatever you feel like doing at that moment.
All I'm saying here is to be flexible in life. Accept others for who they are, and accept yourself for who you are. As for me, I am a proud introvert and I plan on staying that way.
As written by William Shakespeare, "This above all: to thine own self be true."