THINK ABOUT IT…
What potential problems do introverts face in today’s extroverted society and how can we overcome some of the misconceptions and stigmas?
Introversion is “a major personality type identified in many theories of personality that focus on people who tend to be inward turning, focus more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.” (Cherry, Kendra).
The number varies, but most research says that Introverts make up 30-50% of the world population, (Young, Karen) yet there are still many misconceptions, stigmas
The world needs introverts. Our society wouldn’t be the way it has become without introverts. Examples of introverts who made huge changes in history include
- Rosa Parks
- Martin Luther King Jr
- Steve Jobs
- Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
These individuals followed their hearts and minds and set themselves a goal. Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat because her heart was yelling for a change. Martin Luther King Jr stood up in front of 250,000 people because his desire to share and make a change was so important to him. Steve Jobs locked himself alone in his room, where his creativity could flourish and turn his little idea into a
HOW THE CURRENT “EXTROVERTED WORLD” TREATS INTROVERTS
We live in a society gated towards extroversion. Examples include
- Schools that push class participation and group work
- Work cultures that encourages networking and collaboration through open walls
- Engaging in small talk on the bus or in grocery stores with a stranger
Since the world population is more extroverted, our norm of the “perfect ideal individual” has stemmed from extraversion. We think that children should be sociable and outgoing and if they turn out quiet, it is seen to be an abnormality. To fit our norm, we want our children to be popular, have a large group of friends and be included and well-liked. Our society doesn’t favor the timid, quiet individual who would rather chill at home than go out on a weekend.
Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily and work more accurately. They seem to think more carefully than extroverts. Extroverts are more outgoing and likely to take a quick approach to
Surprisingly, Introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read (Cain, Susan). They can express the real me online and spend more time in online discussions. They love communicating digitally and often have a large online audience. A majority of “famous YouTubers” are very much introverts in real life. The same person who would never raise their hand in a large lecture hall of two hundred people may blog or communicate digitally with two thousand or two million people.
STIGMAS & MISCONCEPTIONS
Have you ever been told that you were too quiet? Shy? Reserved? Lonely? These negative misconceptions are universal and can lead to introverts thinking twice about their personality type, and that they need to make a change in order to be more “outgoing” in today’s extroverted world. (TED)
In more extroverted countries like the USA, introverts are finding it hard to embrace their natural reserved personality. Whereas in more conservative areas, such as Japan, Korea and some countries in the UK where
SHYNESS vs. INTROVERSION
However, being an introvert is not the same thing as being shy. Here are the definitions for both (Christ, Scott).
Shyness – indicates a fear of people or social situations
Introvert – simply does not like to spend lots of time interacting with people
Now let’s take a look at some scenarios of shyness vs. introversion…
(images taken from LifeHack)
As you can see, shyness and introversion are actually quite different!
To see where you lie on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, take THIS QUIZ to find out!
Quiz taken from BrainFall. “Myers-Briggs: Are You Extroverted Or Introverted?” BrainFall
SHARE YOUR ANSWERS ON THE POLL BELOW
Every introvert has
I would consider Hong Kong an extroverted city. Super densely populated with tourists, residence
From personal experience, most of the people like to keep things to themselves. On subway rides, people are on their phones, reading newspapers or listening to music. On busses, people hardly talk and engage in conversation, as they like to keep reserved. At my international school, we do engage in a lot of group work, but there is quite a bit of independent work to keep a good balance.
WHAT SHOULD OUR MINDSET BE NOW?
Instead of looking at the down-side of introversion, why not celebrate it?
We need to give introverts more freedom in today’s society and
“Stop the madness for constant group work” (TED)
Yes, kids need to be able to know the qualities of group work, but independent work is just as important because that is where the deepest, most creative thoughts catered towards the individual are formed. (Cain, Susan)
CHANGE I’D LIKE TO SEE IN MY COMMUNITY: HONG KONG
Parents in Hong Kong are known to have high academic expectations for their kids. Local Hong Kong students, especially, are often are bombarded with extra-curricular activities and academic homework. They rarely get sleep and free time, even at a young age when kids shouldn’t have too many stressors acting upon them. Most of the time, kids are doing what they do because they are forced by their parents. It is also very common in Hong Kong to hire domestic helpers (full-time babysitter), to help look after children while parents are at work, traveling or socializing.
Therefore, parents and domestic helpers end up doing everything for their kids, losing this sense of independent learning.
In schools, not just in my local community but also all over the world, we could devote more independent time to students so that creativity and imagination can flourish. Some ideas include…
- Desk arrangement could be flexible in that some days it could be arranged into groups, and some days it could be arranged in rows
- Give freedom in school projects – for those who want to work alone, let them!
- Sparkle creativity – outline a specific project with requirements, but let the student come up with their own final product
- Don’t shame children for not socializing with peers – sometimes they’re having a bad day, sometimes they might not want to talk or maybe they just want to be alone
- Let children engage in their own extra-curricular
- Give children a flexible after-school schedule and let them plan their time accordingly – whether it be attending extra-curricular, working on homework, socializing with friends…etc
Additionally, the current craze around Hong Kong seems to surround academics. There is so much competition to get into the “best” high ranked universities. Parents, students and the locals of Hong Kong don’t “have time” to think about other relevant world-wide issues such as mental health, ethical rights, and personal life.
To make this change happen, we could not only post on social media and spread awareness, but also consult school principals, administrators and teachers. Although this might be harder because culture plays a role, we can also educate parents and brief them on this topic as it will make a big difference in the life of an introverted child.
HOW TO TREAT AN INTROVERT
- Accept and embrace
know that they are not the social butterfly type and let them take their time. nurture their creativity, sensitivity, empathy and big heart.
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured. If an introverted child needs help with social skills, teach her slowly and let her blossom out of her shell on her own. It takes time” ~ Susan Cain
“If you want your child to learn these skills, don’t let her hear you call her “shy”. she’ll believe that label and experience her nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion she can control. She also knows full well that “shy” is a negative word in our society. Above all, do not shame her for her shyness” ~ Susan Cain
2. Encourage them to seek outlets to express themselves
It takes time to find the activity you truly love, so let them self explore. Many introverts find joy in the arts, writing, journaling, yoga. Many love social media connections as digital communication is easier for them
3. Respect their need for privacy
Families assume the whole family needs to do things together to bond, but this is overwhelming for introverts. One-on-one gatherings work best and can generate more meaningful conversations
4. Work with their strengths
Many introverts have something they are extremely good at. Pushing them to join groups or clubs or activities they have no interest in can backfire and can be a waste of time and money
5. Give gentle nudges, not hard thrusts
Instead of throwing them into the deep end, encourage baby steps and give the person time
6. Teach them to celebrate their uniqueness
Introversion is a special personality type and we wouldn’t be living in a world without them. Famous introverts have invented products that have changed our lives for the better.
“Slowly your child will see that it’s worth punching through her wall of discomfort to get to the fun on the other side. She’ll learn how to do the punching by herself” ~ Dr. Kenneth Rubin
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.”
Personality is a huge topic, and there are so many aspects to it whether it being the nature or the nurture. I think it is so important to celebrate all personality types, no matter how large the scale is. We are born with our personality and since it’s not under our control, why not embrace and celebrate you? Introversion is just one of the many personality traits and it definitely is not “abnormal”, just different!
WHAT DO YOU THINK? SHARE YOUR STORY OR THOUGHTS BELOW!
THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING TO MY PROJECT!
BrainFall. “Myers-Briggs: Are You Extroverted Or Introverted?” BrainFall, brainfall.com/quizzes/myers-briggs-are-you-extroverted-or-introverted/.
Cain, Susan. Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Broadway Paperbacks, 2013.
Cherry, Kendra. “8 Signs You Might Be an Introvert.”
Christ, Scott. “16 Things You Might Have Misunderstood About Introverts.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 15 Oct. 2013, www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-things-you-might-have-misunderstood-about-introverts.html.
TED, director. YouTube. YouTube, YouTube, 2 Mar. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4&t=157s.
Young, Karen. “Raising an Introverted Child in an Extroverted World.” Raising an Introverted Child in an Extroverted World, 24 Nov. 2017, www.heysigmund.com/raising-introverted-child-extroverted-world/.