The cover story on TIME Magazine’s February 5th issue is about Introverts. And I’m one.
The article, THE UPSIDE OF BEING AN INTROVERT, “And Why Extroverts are Overrated,” by Bryan Walsh, tells us that about thirty percent of the population fall in the Introvert category. It also states that Introvert does not mean “shy,” although there’s “some overlap.” Introverts don’t shun people; they just prefer them in smaller groups and less often. This is especially difficult to do in America, which Walsh calls, “the land of the loud and the home of the talkative.”
Because we Introverts are outnumbered, and the culture expects people to be outgoing and sociable, we can feel anxious and uncomfortable in situations which Extroverts enjoy. To make matters worse, those who don’t understand our personality can sometimes be unintentionally cruel. They may chide, or even insult us, or treat us as if we have a silly problem we just need “to get over.”
Make no mistake: we’re born this way. Scientific studies have shown that small babies exhibit behavior that marks them as future Introverts. If the parents of such a child are Extroverts, they may try to influence his or her behavior, thinking it’s not normal, thereby causing, at an early age, the tension that goes with feeling different. At the very least, parents fear that the child will not have friends or be successful in life.
Not to worry. Introverts learn to adapt early and there are plenty of occupations which require what Introverts are good at: such as thinking things through thoroughly. Yes, it turns out we Introverts are usually smarter than Extroverts, make fewer wrong decisions, are less likely to get into dangerous situations, and take better care of our health. And why not, when we’re spending our time reading or thinking while Extroverts are bunge-jumping or talking?
Among the well-known Introverts, according to Walsh, are Mahatma Ghandi, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mother Teresa. The author didn’t list any famous writers, but I suspect all writers are Introverts. Why else are we happy to spend so much time alone, in front of our computers, inventing stories?
I probably learned the term when I started high school. However, I’ve always known I was different from my sister and had to find coping mechanisms. How about you? Are you an Introvert? What methods did you use to get along in our mostly-Extrovert world?