Being An Introvert In An Extroverted World

Being An Introvert In An Extroverted World

Introverts often have to adapt to extroverted conditions
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I am an introvert. I tend to be quiet around people I don't know, I enjoy spending time alone, and I get drained after interacting with people for long periods of time. However, I don't really have a problem talking to people I don't know, I enjoy being a leader, and I am in two majors that heavily rely on interacting with others. Introverts are stereotyped as having no friends, being totally antisocial, and being weird. Extroverts, on the other hand, are celebrated; they are the go-getters, the leaders, the life-of-the-party.

Introversion is frowned upon and seen as a bad thing in our culture, while extroversion is sought after. Our society is geared towards extroverts. Social norms involve doing group-oriented things and being a social, outgoing person. While having a night in for Netflix is glorified, it is seen as a temporary break from social activities instead of something that happens regularly. Being quieter or doing things alone is seen as weird by some people.

Recently, I came across this article by The Atlantic about schools overlooking introverts. After reading the article, I found it very relatable; we are often pushed to participate in our classes, with many having points based on how many times you speak in class. This is meant to spur discussion but can be dreaded for introverts. I personally do not have a problem speaking in front of others; some days, I may not have anything I want to contribute to class and may rather soak information in silently and on my own.

Reading about how schools are extrovert-oriented made me think about how society is extrovert-oriented. Introverts often have to adapt to extroverted conditions, both in school and the world. It's not always a bad thing; I've grown much better at being outgoing when needed and look forward to having a career that involves working closely with others. But why should we have to change our underlying personalities? Why should we have to completely change and adapt to fit what is seen as the "norm?"

Being an introvert in an extroverted world requires a lot of energy. Sometimes I have to push myself to be outgoing and work with others. Sometimes I wish that society could accommodate introverts more and respect the strengths that we have rather than mainly focusing on our weaknesses and encouraging us to change.

Great leaders can be introverts. Introverts can accomplish great things and be in a social field of work. Introverts can do anything an extrovert can but just may have different preferences. Rather than looking to go out with a group of friends to end a busy day, I prefer to stay in and be alone. I thrive on the energy of being alone, and alone time at night is necessary to power me through the next day.

Maybe one day, society will become more accommodating and be accepting of introverted qualities. But, for now, us introverts will continue to live an extroverted world and power on.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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The Truth About the Illusion of Perfection

No one's life is perfect, because we aren't perfect people.

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When I was younger, I was a huge perfectionist. I strived to make perfect scores on tests and quizzes, to get along with absolutely everyone, and to be the best horseback rider I could be. I wanted the *best* and would not settle for anything less. And if I did not meet these extravagant goals of mine, I would beat myself up over it. In my head, anything less than perfect had meant that I failed.

As I got older though, I realized that perfection is not as attainable as I once thought. In elementary school and early in middle school, I thought perfection was attainable, which is why I brutally beat myself up over not reaching it. Many years went by before I came to terms with the truth that perfection is unattainable. As humans, we are not meant to live "perfect" lives, because we aren't perfect people.

In all honesty, I still occasionally struggle with the lust for perfection. I've more recently come to terms with the fact that I used to be content in settling for the mere appearance of perfection. I settled for believing that if everyone else thought I was thriving, then I could be content with that, even if internally I struggled to keep up with all the commitments I drowned myself in.

In the past year, I learned that not only is perfection in itself unattainable, but also that the illusion of perfection, like the one I tried to manifest of my own life to others, is just as unreal. Technology has allowed the world to be connected more than it has ever been before, which therefore allows us to see more of other people's lives. And I love it. Social media definitely has it's harped upon cons, but if used beneficially, it can be fun. I love keeping up with my friends at other colleges and my distant family members.

But of course, no one is sharing all their life's imperfections. Social media is a continuous stream of amazing moments. People are sharing their favorite experiences and pictures with the world. Yet as normal living people, we all have imperfect moments. Perfection is an illusion. No one has it all together, and that is perfectly fine.

A bunch of freedom comes with being content in imperfection. At least for me, it felt like a weight was taken off of my shoulders. If we stop expecting perfection out of ourselves, we will be a whole lot happier. And if we stop believing in the portrayed illusion of perfection in other people's lives, we will be a whole lot happier, too.

My closest friendships this past year formed from sharing some of my imperfectness with others. Life has a pattern to it, and all of the things you may be going through have been encountered before in someone else's life. I have learned that many of us struggle with very similar circumstances, and it's nice to know that you aren't alone.

For example, I did not enjoy my first semester of college. I went through a bunch of life changes, and for a hot second, I felt like no one truly understood what I was feeling. Drifting from familiar people and a familiar routine took a toll on me. I thought that keeping up an illusion of perfection was the only way to cope, as everyone else seemed to be living their best life.

I saw so many fun pictures of my friends on Instagram and Snapchat and compared my situation to theirs. A part of me didn't believe I would ever be joyful in college. But one night I was very tired and stressed and opened up to someone who is now one of my closest friends. After telling her what I was thinking about college and life, she was so excited to tell me that she was struggling with the exact same thing. And we instantly bonded over a shared imperfect circumstance.

No one is perfect, which is such a cliché to say, but it's so true. What we see and what we hear is not always the full story. People are imperfect, and no one has their life completely together. Life is complex, and it's always changing, so there's no need to fall for the illusion of someone else's perfect life, or trying to create the illusion of perfection of your own.

There is a whole bunch of happiness in imperfection, messing up, and growth. Because if you aren't growing, you are staying the same.

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