Growing up, I didn’t know about introversion and instead I got labelled as shy and told that I needed to join in and get out of my shell. Spending play time alone was seen as antisocial, even though instinctively I knew even at such a young age that I needed space away from other people because it was exhausting me.
By the time I reached 6th Form College, I realised that in order to be normal, I had to fake it. So I did.
What they don’t tell you is that an introvert who continually tries to live a life that is the direct opposite to how their brain is wired (because among many differences, an introvert’s brain is more sensitive to dopamine and doesn’t need as much stimulation, whereas an extrovert is less sensitive to dopamine and needs more stimulation)without any time to truly recharge their batteries, gets sick. Physically and emotionally, we start to erode around the edges, until we finally break.
With the emergence of the internet I found out about introversion and even discovered other introverts online. For the first time I found out that a) I was totally normal, and b) there were other people just. like. me.
The internet is damn near perfect for introverts. We can converse on a expansive and level, we can allow ourselves time to think and respond to people and when we have had enough, we can stop.
It has given us confidence. It has given us power. Most of all, it has freed us from extroverted expectations.
So of course when half of the world starts to push against the status quo, you get a bit of a backlash. ‘Introverts are taking over the internet’, ‘they think they are so perfect’, ‘they are putting themselves on a pedestal’, ‘introverts are narcissists’, ‘they are getting too big for their boots’ and before the day is out I am sure there will be the ‘what about a day for extroverts?’ question banded about.
Oh and have you noticed the similarities with how gender is reacted to?
The thing is, yes of course introverts are becoming more vocal, especially online. We are finding our voice and it’s thrilling when the likes of Susan Cain are heading our cause and starting a discuss how we can be more ourselves in mainstream media. Not only that, but of course we’d talk about not liking small talk and how draining it is to be expected to ‘extrovert’ on a regular basis – we’ve found our family.
Outside the internet, the world still isn’t as accepting of introverts. There is still the inability to understand that shyness and introversion are not the same. Terrorists who shoot up churches and schools are called ‘quiet’ and ‘loners’, spending time away from other people is considered ‘unnatural’ and ‘suspicious’. Extroverts earn more money, and how can an introvert be happier? It’s not finding their own authentic selves, but it’s to (allegedly) act more live an extrovert. We still have to endure the open plan office, the expectations that in order to succeed you need to be extroverted and the perpetuation in the media of the geeky, loner who just needs someone to bring them out of their shell, compared to the happy, personable extrovert.
What it boils down to, is that we shouldn’t forget that introversion and extroversion are two sides of the same coin. Neither one is better than the other, and hopefully the world outside of the internet will appreciate just how much we can offer to the world when we aren’t expected to (and wasting time and energy) pretending to be something we’re not. In the meantime, allow us the space to enjoy our introversion, to laugh about what the world expects of us – you never know, maybe in the future introversion and extroversion will be less of an issue altogether when both sides can see that we have so much to offer each other.