We Live In A Society That Praises Extroverts

Culture

Is freedom giving up the need to be understood by everyone? The exhausting part of our daily lives erupt when we feel the need for most people to understand. Every person is deeply complex. The greatest blessing can lie in feeling understood by those who truly care. I was reading the article Introverts are excluded unfairly in an extraverts’ world here, which was incredibly thought provoking and eye opening, as I spent many years thinking that there was something innately wrong with me.

Around seven years ago I discovered the term introvert and felt a greater understanding. We live in a society that praises extroverts. In the article it states that “The main cultural problem is that introverts are widely seen as not adapted to the environment, instead of it being acknowledged that the environment is designed to profit extraverts. Society’s praise and acceptance of extraversion as the norm has led many introverts, along with many ambiverts, to suppress different aspects of their personality, or to see them as flaws. This state of affairs is bad not only for introverts, but for society as a whole.”

Susan Caine cites studies which suggest that the majority of teachers think the ideal student is an extrovert, and more extroverts are groomed for leadership positions in the workplace. However, the level of introversion or extroversion does not equate to one’s level of competency. We need to live in a world that supports both introverts and extroverts in all environments. We need to create environments that allow both to shine through their positive traits.

Negative connotations tend to be associated with introversion and introverts can often be stereotyped as shy, socially anxious, awkward and quiet. However, shyness is not the same as introversion and being an introvert means that you need to spend time alone in order to recharge your batteries. The two important areas of our societies are schools and businesses. These are areas that individuals spend a significant amount of their lives in. These are designed largely for extroverts and the extrovert’s need for stimulation.

A person should not be measured by how well they can engage in small talk but in the ideas, values, character, opinions and empathy they express. The greatest freedom is being yourself. As children we are taught to play with other children, and isolating oneself is seen as an issue that needs to be resolved. In some cases there may be clear signs that the behaviour may be concerning, however it’s common a child may feel more stimulated through activities such as reading a book or painting a picture

The implication that it’s a fault is created by societal expectations and norms. Social exclusion through not conforming to societal expectation can also increase feelings of isolation and rejection. The ending of the article beautifully says that “More importantly, we must remember that introversion is not something to be fixed – but a blessed source of human diversity that comes with many strengths. The way to advance our personal and collective growth is not by eliminating this diversity, but by embracing it.” Every person has the ability to create change and to contribute towards society.

Art by Lieke van der Vorst

The Unfolding Nature Of A Quiet Introvert

Daily Thoughts

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Many of us tend to show more of our personality the more we become comfortable with a person. I find that there are only a very few handful of people that have ever seen my whole personality, and understand the extent of how odd but loving I am. Truly, I think everyone is a little strange because it’s not possible for anyone to be normal, because even being too normal is a little strange. It’s funny because there are moments I can give a somewhat cold, distant impression, and others where I am smiling, approachable and warm.

It’s common in society that spending too much time alone, being thoughtful, being a quiet soul, being an introvert and having a calm demeanour are sometimes frowned upon. There is an expectation that a person should be outgoing, yet I believe that confidence and skill set is not equated to the volume of our voice. I do feel that to some extent, we live in a society that praises extroverts. I referenced the quote from Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

For those who take time to open up, they do so because they feel they trust you. It can also be the person, because I find certain people can bring out bits and pieces of us. Such as, some may bring out more of our funny side or caring side. It might depend on the nature of the topic, and the conversations we engage in. I find when I get engaged in conversation of interest, I unfold more and more. Many introverts may also be thinkers, and take a pause here and there to think before they speak. Expressing oneself is often easier through art, music, writing, than it is to say the words plainly out loud. Not all the time our spoken words may fully express how we feel inside.

There are hidden layers that are slowly and gradually revealed, when it’s with the right person. For example, there are only a few people in my life who can bring out my ridiculously talkative and crazy side, because I’m willing and comfortable to let them see it. Most of the time, when I interact with people I don’t feel a connection or am not close with, there isn’t a desire to share too much. I was reading the article The Thing About Introverts That Most Extroverts Can’t Understand here, and it explains my first paragraph well.  Michaela writes:

“When I am with strangers, I generally behave in one of two ways:

1) If I have the energy, I am friendly, animated and engaging.

2) If I am feeling overwhelmed, drained or out of my element, I am more quiet and reserved

The people who meet me in scenario #1 assume that I am an extrovert, and don’t know how to react when my introverted tendencies emerge. Those who meet me in scenario #2 believe that I am shy or “have no personality”. They can’t imagine that I am confident, silly, and quite bold with the people I hold dearest. The bottom line is that most extroverts simply don’t understand that introverts behave differently in public than they do with the people they love and trust the most.”

It’s natural for many introverts to show more of their personality when they feel someone is a true friend. They want to invite the people who accept them for who they are into their life. There are those who prefer to have a few close friends, than be socialising in groups. There is this craving for deep connections and minimising energy spent on interactions that don’t go anywhere. Introverts have a lot to say, but they are particular about who they choose to say what to. Something I’m trying to improve on is small talk, even if it’s not the most interesting, it’s a good level of unfolding with a stranger, without having to commit to sharing too much.

One on one interactions are a great way to understand people, and put all my focus in getting to know someone. I also find people are more themselves when they’re alone talking to me, compared to when they’re with a group of people. However, in group situations, most of the time I tend to be the listener. Unfolding takes time, and in different environments we will unfold different things. Such as in the work place, many introverts are talented, but it may take them a little more time to open up. I find it’s easier if I’m drawn or have an instant connection with someone. In our personal lives or at school, it might be a particular person that we gradually open up to.

Eva Green in the Violet Book Fall Issue 2016

What It Means To Be Quietly Confident

Daily Thoughts

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There’s a misconception that confidence means being an extrovert, being loud, openly expressive and outgoing. There is this image of someone who is likable, energetic and gets a long with everyone. However, confidence means having faith in yourself or someone else. It’s the state of feeling certain about the truth of something. There is this idea that only extroverts can be truly confident, yet there are many misconceptions about introverts that can cause this thought. Confidence is something you create within yourself, it’s not something you’re born with.

I found this answer from Quora, and appreciate it so much. As an introvert, I’ve grown up being told (even til today), that I need to be more confident. As someone who is comfortable in their own skin, there’s often a mistake of equating confidence with being loud. The words “Nothing is ever as it seems, especially when it comes to people,” that she wrote is extremely true. We can never truly judge a book by its cover, especially when we only see the external parts of people. I may be a more soft spoken person, but I feel confident in being myself.

Confidence isn’t about being noticed. True confidence is believing in your abilities as an individual. It means staying strong to your values. Being quietly confident means you aren’t afraid to speak up for what you believe in. It means being able to differentiate constructive criticism and judgment, and which ones to take on and which to let go. It means you know that you will make mistakes, but you will keep trying. A person who is quietly confident, doesn’t feel the need to validate themselves to others. They don’t feel the need to tell everyone about their achievements, and they’re not afraid to tell other people about their failures.

Very often quiet people are underestimated and overlooked, with no acknowledgement of their achievements. They don’t tend to tell many people, and may come off as unsocial and may seem distant at times. The thing is when someone is quiet, it doesn’t mean they are less confident. Confidence is very much an internal feeling of self assurance. There are quiet people who may love conversing with others, and there may be those who are more loud who need time to spend with themselves. Everyone is different. We all express ourselves in different ways.

It’s easy to create an idea of what an individual may be like with labels such as introvert, shy or quiet, but I find that narrows down the ability to truly get to know someone. Some people take more time to open up than others. I’ve been told by people to be more loud. A part of me wants to say that my personality doesn’t mean I can’t be confident, it simply means I show it in a different way. There are many extroverts labeled as confident, but confidence isn’t based on a personality type.

As an individual, I’m not afraid to ask questions, and this is something I feel quietly confident with. Many quiet people are highly observant and analytical. They know how to determine a situation, and some people are able to read what others may be feeling. They tend to think before they speak. Those who speak the most or talk the loudest, doesn’t mean they always have the most substantial things to say. Our personality doesn’t determine our intelligence or our abilities.

I consider myself quite a talkative person, when I’m having a engaging conversation that interests me or makes me thoughtful. I feel a quiet confidence, because I don’t feel the need to alter myself to a loud person in order to be similar to how others may express confidence. When we don’t say anything, it doesn’t mean that we don’t know, we’re clueless or we’re not interested. It may mean we’re thinking deeply or listening carefully. There are certain things that don’t always need to be said out loud.

There is this common thought, that those who are loud are strong, and those who are quiet are weak. These are all from the way things look, rather than what they are. It’s the way it appears, but not often what it may be. There are many quiet people who have achieved great things in the world. They have a sense of self acceptance. We should embrace our strengths and qualities of ourselves, the way we wouldn’t change the accent we have, we shouldn’t need to change our personality to please others.

What I feel is that those who lack self confidence, are those who feel the need to fill the silence every second. They are uncomfortable in sitting in silence. Then it doesn’t feel raw and real, because there is this discomfort that they may feel in feeling quiet in the presence of others. Confidence means embracing yourself and being sure of your decisions. It’s not something that can be worn, but an attitude of being comfortable in who you are as a person. It means not being afraid to make mistakes and learning from them and being true to yourself.

image via

The Common Misconceptions Of Being Soft Spoken

Daily Thoughts

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When I think of soft spoken people, I think of Audrey Hepburn, Katie Holmes and Winona Ryder. The thing with the way we speak is that we don’t really hear ourselves. It’s similar in the sense that we don’t hear our own accent. When I speak, I can’t hear how soft or quiet my voice is, because it’s normal for me. However, I’ve found over the years, there are certain misconceptions and stereotypes made about people who are soft spoken.

I was painfully shy when I was a child at school, even though at home I was very talkative and unafraid of being completely myself. As I grew older, I was much more confident, but I always had a softer voice. Having a soft voice doesn’t mean you can’t be direct, confident and self assured. It simply means that we show those qualities in different ways. I’ve listed below some of the misconceptions where some come from my own personal experience.

Soft spoken people are always quiet. I remember answering a question in class, and the teacher told me to shout the answer, because it would be like a normal speaking voice. I naturally have a gentle voice. I know personally I am more of a quiet person, however I have moments where I’m extremely talkative.

They are a sensitive person. Sensitivity is stigmatised and often seen as a negative, however it shouldn’t be that way. Sensitivity is natural. Some soft spoken people (like me) are indeed more sensitive, and some aren’t. It depends entirely on someones own personality.

Easily influenced, bossed around and manipulated. There is a huge misconception that we can’t be assertive. Soft spoken express confidence in different ways, without the need to be loud. Too often loud is equated with power and confidence. I know for myself, I don’t allow anyone to treat me unfairly.

They aren’t able to speak up for themselves. Similar to the previous point, most people are able to stand up for themselves. It doesn’t always mean we have to get angry about it, but we just express it differently. I know that if someone crosses my line, I will be very direct. But I also know, I tend to hold certain things inside that aren’t necessary to express, if they won’t change the situation.

Gullible and easy to believe anything. This stereotype definitely comes from how we just naturally want to be nice and polite. I know that when I was at school, I was definitely gullible in the sense that I was too trusting, and tried to see the good in everyone. Unfortunately not everyone is an honest person.

We are always extremely polite. I can’t count the amount of compliments, when people say “you’re such a nice person”. I still remember when I was very assertive with someone, they got a shock, because of the contrast of me being a soft person. It can be off putting for some people as people expect you to always be polite and nice.

They can’t take on leadership roles. In this point, I want to state that soft spoken people can be an introvert or extrovert. There are many introverts who were soft spoken, who did great things and made great changes. I think of Rosa Parks who was a civil rights activist, stood up in a bus refusing to give her seat up to a white passenger.

Soft spoken people are shy and quiet. I do consider myself more of a quiet and low key person, and I definitely am shy in certain situations, but not all the time. There is a connection that being soft means you must be quiet, shy, socially awkward and a long list of stereotypes. However, everyone is different, some people are and some people aren’t.

We rarely get angry. Over the years, there have been countless times someone says “I really can’t imagine you angry”. The thing is everyone is an emotional being, and we all cry and laugh, however each person expresses their emotions in different ways.

We prefer to listen rather than talk. Being soft spoken doesn’t mean we aren’t interested to chat or be noticed in a conversation. Everyone’s views are usually shared, and I know that many soft spoken people are naturally listeners, but many also love to talk!

Being soft spoken means you’re soft. This is the most natural association, considering the word soft is in soft spoken. Some soft spoken people tend to be more gentle and quiet, there are many soft spoken people who are very outgoing and energetic. Being soft spoken doesn’t deliberately mean you are in a certain category, it simply means that that is the sound of your voice. Your voice is important, but it doesn’t define your personality.

image via

The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking

Books

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Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking was the first book I read in 2017. It was such a wonderful and incredibly relatable book that had me nodding throughout. After watching Susan Cain’s Ted talk on the power of introverts, it gave me a sense of reassurance and a wider perspective of what it means to be an introvert. The way she touched on many areas of being an introvert, being a highly sensitive person and interacting with introverts and extroverts, makes us aware that introverts and extroverts simply act, learn, work, socialise and live in different ways. A third to a half of people are introverts.

Cain talks about how in Asian culture, we tend to have a more introvert approach to many aspects of life, where as in American culture, they tend to have a more extroverted approach. When it comes to socialising and networking, it’s the conversations and environment that ultimately makes a difference. Conversations that are superficial tend to drain my energy batteries, whereas deep meaningful conversations make me feel engaged. Cain writes that there is no evidence that introverts or extroverts out perform one another. Both are capable of achieving a high standard, however the method of an extrovert is often applauded, even if it may not be the best. We tend to listen to the loud person in the group who is more talkative, however they may not always necessarily have the best ideas.

In terms of friendship, many introverts tend to have a small group of close and intimate friends. The book really expresses how we need a world of introverts and extroverts. Both compliment one another, and both are important in our society. Cain touches on the point that there is a need for introverts to be able to work at their best by providing them with suitable environments and communication methods. In a world where extroverts are praised, the introverts have a world of thoughts and ideas to contribute to the world. Never underestimate someones abilities, just because we cannot see it. Every individual has the ability to make a big or small change in the world.

Art by Monica Barengo