A Ted Talk on “The Power of Introverts” highlights society’s encouragement of extroversion, suggesting that introversion is less favorable.
The speaker, Susan Cain, speaks of ways in which young people are pushed to be extroverted: whether it be the masses of schoolwork that are done in groups, tables in classrooms facing each other (rather than in rows) and summer camp leaders who emphasize the importance of being rowdy.
She speaks of her own experiences at summer camp when her quiet reading habits caused concern to the camp leader who told her “we should all work very hard to be outgoing”.
As a student in my first year of university, the pressure to be an extrovert is the most prominent it has been in my entire life: where uttering the phrase “I don’t really go on night’s out much” is akin to saying “I am the offspring of Satan” in the eyes of a student.
I couldn’t count how many times I’ve been told by older relatives and friends that getting drunk, going out clubbing and partying all the time is “what you’re meant to do in your first year of university”. So when I decide to stay at home and read whilst my flatmates go out partying, I can’t help but feel a little bit guilty.
This isn’t to say that I never go out. I do. But compared to my friends (who will often go clubbing 3 or 4 times a week) I am basically a hermit. And I get mocked for it often.
“Of course she’s not coming out!”
“Have you even left the flat today?”
Actually, I did. I went up north. At least in my head while reading Game Of Thrones.
Despite the occasional mocking, I find being an introverted young adult has many perks and pros:
I save money
Introverts are more energized by spending time alone, perhaps reading or being quietly creative. As a result, I don’t spend nearly as much money as my peers might on big nights out or social events (although I may spend a little too much on books- but we won’t dwell on that).
So while my extroverted best friend plummets into her overdraft, I thank my introversion for my lack of debt.
I’m very independent
Introverts are said to be able to “charge their own batteries” and don’t require the company of others to feel energized. Introverts are also great at working independently rather than relying on a group or team. We love to rely on ourselves and we know that whatever difficulties await us, we can probably take care of them on our own.
I rarely have a hangover
Rarely clubbing and going to parties means I automatically drink less than my peers and my days aren’t wasted recovering from the night before. Of course, this advantage doesn’t apply to every introverted student; drinking indoors with a few close friends doesn’t require any extroversion.
I’m never bored
Psychologist Hans Eysenck concluded that extroverts often need to be in a large group of people, or take part in highly stimulating activities in order to feel sufficiently stimulated. Us introverts, however, are more easily stimulated by milder experiences and are less likely to be bored in our own company.
I have more time to achieve
Having no problem with spending lots of time on our own is a key advantage for students as studying and essay writing are most efficiently done in solitude. Personal projects such as reading, writing or playing an instrument are best done on your own.
Therefore, often introverts achieve more in a day than extroverts might. This is just a generalization, however, as a lot of this “extra time” I have I procrastinate away anyway.
We’re good at building meaningful relationships
In contrast to extroverts, who thrive off socializing with a large group of friends, an introvert’s preference for a smaller group automatically means they’re more likely to know each member of the group well.
We love to listen and find out about our close friends making us easier to form meaningful friendships with. People feel able to open up to us.
We’re (apparently) good leaders
Introverts have been suggested to make good leaders as we’re likely to listen to our team members, think about their suggestions carefully and let them run with their own ideas. In contrast, an extrovert is said to maybe put too much of their own stamp on things where they should let team members have more freedom to make decisions.
Therefore, even though we may not be quite as comfortable in group work (set by school or university, or even in the workplace) we can thrive in any position we’re put in.
Overall I think us introverts are lucky- despite the occasional prejudice. We’re self-sufficient. We’re completely satisfied in our own company with minimal input required from others to feel our best.
We’re more comfortable in quiet environments allowing complete immersion into whatever we do; whether we’re reading, writing, playing an instrument or working.
I wouldn’t change my introversion for the world. And neither should you.
P.S. we can also get away with wearing baggy, stained, incredibly comfy clothes because- let’s face it -we’re not going out today.