They say people are social animals that cannot survive without human interaction, probably because this was essential for survival during the Stone Age. How else could we have dominated the earth and become the superpower race we are today?
That being said, times are different now. People need each other, yes, but not to the same extent. Actually, for some of us, it's not even close.
I've written about introversion on my blog before, mostly so people in my friends circle would understand that it's not about being shy or antisocial, it's about where we derive our energy from and how much stimulation we need.
But no matter how popular this topic is today, no matter how many speeches are made to spread awareness, no matter how many introverts are speaking up every single day, the Extrovert Ideal is nowhere near to being finished. I can say this from personal experience, and I'm sure my introverted Geeks would agree.
What is the Extrovert Ideal?
The Extrovert Ideal is the belief that gregarious, social, and outgoing individuals - extroverts - are better than the quieter introverts. Studies show that most teachers consider the ideal student to be an extrovert. It's the same for recruiters. Stating that you're an introvert at a job interview will definitely lower your chances.
Introverts are often bullied and considered inferior, weird or arrogant. Recently, a friend said she pitied me because I wasn't fond of having strangers over. Other people have told me that the phrase 'introverted fun' is an oxymoron. Teachers have asked me to put down my book and chat with my classmates. Yes, teachers are now actually discouraging reading.
The only negative remarks on my report cards in school were: "Needs to speak up more."
Why It's Okay to be Introverted
People need to understand that being introverted is not a bad thing at all. Introverts have their own strengths. We make better listeners. We tend to be less impulsive. We talk less not because we hate people, but because we don't care for small talk. We only contribute to a conversation when we have something valuable to say - and isn't that better than using meaningless words?
Introverts don't hate extroverts. I definitely don't. I live with three extroverts. My father is an ambivert. One of my closest friends (what up, K-Dog?) is an extrovert. I love being around people who understand and love my quirks. What I don't like is society judging me for my preferences.
Just because our idea of fun is different from yours doesn't mean that either idea is wrong. Just because we're alone doesn't mean we're lonely. Why does staying in on the weekends and reading a book make us outcasts? Sure, partying all night long is fun (well, not to me, though many introverts love it), but sometimes it gets too overwhelming. Sometimes we need solitude and tranquillity to recharge our batteries.
What You Can Do to Help
The Extrovert Ideal isn't going to go away unless we do something about it. Why can't it be called the Good People Ideal instead? Extroverts, introverts and ambiverts are all equal, because they're all people. And all people deserve to be treated the same way (unless they're serial killers).
So here's what you can do: share this post with your friends and family. Read about introversion. Tell me about your E/I preference in the comments. What do you love about being an extrovert or an introvert? What do you love about your friends who are different from you?
Introverts, have you ever been subject to the Extrovert Ideal? If so, what did you do about it? I'd love to hear from you.
It’s time we recognize people for who they are instead of what they like to do on a Saturday night. Wouldn’t you agree?
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