Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Go Introverts!

It seems all these years I've had an erroneous perception of what qualified as an "introvert." I thought it was strictly that mute kid in the corner that chewed miserably on her hair. 

However, I could not be more wrong, according to Time magazine.
While I definitely did not consider myself an extrovert, I am unafraid of social situations and happy to talk with new people. But I do consider it an effort, like a kickboxing class.

Which makes me, by power of a Time quiz, an introvert.

And I couldn't be more proud. 

Most parents want their children to be outgoing go-getters with a fleet of friends. If their offspring, however, would prefer to read quietly or do an assignment by themselves, then often they will find themselves pushed to do "normal" activities. 

In my local paper a mother wrote in that her son was not very social, so she decided to send him away to school to force him to make friends. Her son was begging her not to, and she was asking what do. Thank heaven that "Abby" told her not to send him. My nerves were shot on this boy's behalf just by reading the letter. 

If there are children that have a few select friends, or perhaps they are waiting for a buddy they can actually communicate with, that does not automatically make them an aberration. Introverts have a lot to offer, bringing all sorts of benefits to our culture, offsetting the risk-taking of the extroverts.

As mentioned by Susan Cain, being an introvert is not the same as being shy. 
Shy people fear negative judgment, while introverts simply prefer less stimulation; shyness is inherently painful, and introversion is not. But in a society that prizes the bold and the outspoken, both are perceived as disadvantages.
What is interesting is that introverts do better academically than extroverts, even though they have the same IQs, since they tend to analyze first, then proceed, unlike extroverts who leap before they look.

But without the extroverts, introverts would not be in a good place. Both personality types are needed for success. 
The ideal scenario is when those two toddlers — the one who hands you the toy with the smile and the other who checks you out so carefully — grow up to run the world together.
Jeffrey Kluger, a self-professed introvert, points out: 
Introverted people don’t worry unduly about whether they’ll be found wanting, they just find too much socializing exhausting and would prefer either to be alone or in the company of a select few people.
Oh, so it's not just me. 
And that same 20% tend to grow up to become introverted children and adults, eventually learning to protect themselves from overstimulation by avoiding the situations that will overload their neural circuits.
I didn't even know how to phrase it. Now I can say: "I'm sorry, I prefer not to overstimulate my neural circuits." That's why I never enjoyed camp and all that ruach.


Anonymous said...

Love it! Awesome - can totally relate.

That's what's great about blogging for an introvert - you have plenty to say, you (and I) just prefer to "analyze before responding".

Blogging contrasts hugely with live social scenes that demand (and thrive) in the realm of "leap before look"

FrumGeek said...

Oh, I'm certainly an introvert. Of course, that didn't stop my parents from sending me to sleep-away camp for years, no matter how much I told them I hated it.

Princess Lea said...

Anon: True! I didn't even think of that. I have posts saved for months and I re-read them over and over to make sure they are fit for public consumption. Even then I miss grammatical errors.

FG: I went for one half. It turned out I was sent to a particularly BAD camp but I still had no desire to try another one.