{THE STRUGGLE IS REAL} Being an Introvert in an Extrovert World

Monday, May 21, 2018

So... I'm an introvert. That just means that I get energy from alone time and that social interactions tend to drain me. Unfortunately, introverts only make up about 38% of the population, so most of the world we live in is composed of extroverts.

Clearly, we can see why the world is mostly extroverts: we need people who will go out of their comfort zone and get things done. We need people who are outgoing and won't be afraid to make new connections. We need extroverts. 

Being an introvert has a whole different set of challenges then being an extrovert does.
First off, I'd like to say that the terms introvert and extrovert are labels. They're terms that label certain behaviors and are defined by how we get energy - from the people around us, or from alone time. It seems that in this day and age, labels are bad because they stereotype people and see only the label instead of the actual person. And I see what people mean here, but we have to realize that labels help us tell others a little bit about who we are.

For example, if someone told you that she was a feminist, you'd know a little bit more about what she believes. Would you know her personally just from that one statement? Of course not! We confuse knowing someone's labels with knowing someone personally, and that's where we get in trouble.

We're all unique in our way. No two of us have the exact same personality, and that's okay! I'm an introvert, but that doesn't mean that I follow a set of rules about how introverts are suppose to act. I may struggle with things that other introverts don't and vise versa, so within introverts we're still all different.

A label can help explain a little bit of who you are, but it shouldn't be the only thing that defines you.
People tend to stereotype introverts as being shy, but that's not always the case. Mainly, we just think before we speak, and we don't necessarily say things unless we feel a need to say them. That's one of the pluses of being an introvert: that our first response to a situation isn't to spout out what's in our head, which keeps us from saying things that we may regret later.

That's definitely a blessing, but some people don't see it that way - especially in our culture of noise.

The culture encourages you to say whatever is in your head, just "get it out". Extroversion is the "normal" in today's world. No wonder, seeing as more than half of them are extroverts themselves! Celebrities are pictured going to party after party, and to be popular, you've got be outgoing and vivacious. The "be the life of the party" attitude is prevalent in advertisements and billboards.

As introverts, this life doesn't appeal to us. We don't like the parties, the almost non-stop social interaction, or the constant communication. But we do want to have friends, and we do want to be popular, so we buy into this idea. Even though we're introverts, we can still pretend to be extroverts sometimes. 

Which, sometimes can help us, but it's always just a mask for who we really are, pretending to like things, people, and places, when we really don't. It's okay to act like an extrovert at a social event every once in a while, but we have to come to grips with the idea that we don't have to go to every single social event we're invited to. I don't know about you, but for an introvert, that statement lets me breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Someone once asked me what one of the biggest struggles of being an introvert is. And after thinking about it for a while I realized it's probably isolation. As an introvert, it's easier for me to isolate myself. I know I need alone time to recoup, so it's easy to be selfish about that time. Living in a large household makes it even easier, and I won't lie, most of the time, I "hide" in my room when I'm home. I don't even have to go out of my house to get plenty of social interaction!

In fact, I normally get alone time by leaving my house, when I'm on the drive to work, and that helps to energize me for the work day I have ahead of me.

All that aside, we tend to neglect important relationships in defense of alone time. 

We need our alone time! But sometimes that makes us not even want to interact with people, and make us want to perpetually stay in a place of alone-ness.

Relationships are important, and although keeping up with them includes doing things we don't like all the time, we've got to remember that we're not an island.
What does technology have to do with introverts? I know it seems weird to have a section about technology when we're talking about introvert struggles, but just bear with me here.

With the rise of technology (along with all that comes with it: social media, emails, texting, etc.) it's harder and harder for an introvert to actually be alone. Physically, we may be by ourselves, but with our phone or laptop we could be talking to 4 or 5 different people at once, through texting or email.

With the advent of social media, we may not actually physically be at that party, but when you see pictures or videos, it's like you are. 

So technology makes it easier to communicate with others, but I find that it drains my energy just like being in real life would. Texting , emailing, talking on the phone, those are all forms of communication, and even though they're not face to face, they can still drain us. So that's why sometimes I just have to put my phone away and not answer texts right away. Usually it's not something I have to reply to right away anyway!

Face to face relationships are important, but I'm grateful I can text and email with friends who don't live close to me or I don't get to see very often.
Ultimately, God made all of us with unique personalities. Some of us He made more extroverted and some of us He made more introverted. But there's not two of us who are exactly alike down here. So, if God made you an introvert, be an introvert. If He made you an extrovert, be an extrovert.

We need both in the world to complement each other.
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

1 comment:

  1. I'm VERY extraverted but stuck in a world of isolation thus making me miserable and sometimes even to the point of suicidal because I don't do loneliness well.


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