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.