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You would probably agree that we live in an extremely extroverted world. Besides the fact that during the Covid-19 pandemic 4 in 10 adults in the USA suffered from anxiety or depression as a result of social isolation1, generally, adults are supposed to enjoy and seek social interactions, engage in small talks, maintain relationships with hundreds of friends and acquaintances in real life and on social networks, lead a busy lifestyle, and take extroverted jobs to achieve success. At least this is how I, as an introvert, feel. I tried to pretend I liked socializing and worked at extroverted jobs – kind of a “fake it till you make it” approach. However, it led to anxiety and a major burnout. Eventually, I’ve learned to disregard other people’s opinions and live the way it’s comfortable for me. Now I know for sure that introverts don’t need to be fixed because there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.
Why introverts don’t need to be fixed
- Expectations of society are not our problem
- Personality rights of introverts must be respected
- Introversion is a gift, not a curse
Expectations of society are not our problem
Society puts a lot of expectations on everyone. Most people try hard to meet those expectations without questioning if that’s really what they want from life. If someone fails to meet those expectations, society starts pointing fingers at them saying that there’s something wrong with that person and they should change or see a psychologist. Expectations of society are not introverts’ problem. Here is what I, as an introvert, think about what society expects from introverts.
Society expects introverts to have friends
Society expects introverts to have friends and exchange information about our personal life and plans with them, otherwise we’re considered emotionally detached which is “a bad sign”. Dear extroverts, let me explain, the reasons behind my emotional detachment as extroverts like to call it, are being polite, avoiding too personal questions I wouldn’t want to be asked either and understanding that the only people truly interested in my well-being are my family. Unlike extroverts, I don’t fool myself into thinking that someone is interested in my life not because of idle curiosity, addiction to gossiping or competitiveness.
My next argument against spending time with friends is that I see no use in gossiping. Every time I am in a company, I notice that people mostly gossip about people who are not there and exchange information about their own life and plans which will then be passed to a third party later by someone from that company. I don’t want people I don’t know or people I dislike to know any information about me and spread gossip. I’m also not interested in information about other people’s lives because I like to stay focused on my own life and I don’t like comparing my life with someone else’s.
Since I started listening to myself more, I’ve been asking myself: “why should I force myself and maintain friendships?” Do I need friends to be judged because my lifestyle is different from theirs? Or do I need friends just to find out that they are now friends with a person who bullied me in school? Or do I need friends to hear how irresponsible it is to put responsibility on someone else when I ask them for a favor, while it never seems to be a problem for them when it’s them who ask me for a favor? Long story short, I am not ready to put up with all the drawbacks of friendships.
Society expects everyone to meet social standards for success
Society expects everyone to meet social standards for success: to make a career, have an impressive LinkedIn profile, buy expensive clothes and electronics to show off, compete on salaries with colleagues, wait what? How come people put money above family, life purpose, hobbies, honesty, love, free time, their dreams, etc.? Refusal to live in accordance with the plan created by society doesn’t make you a bad person or a person who needs to see a psychologist. See my article on Success and Its True Meaning.
Society expects everyone to be energetic, enthusiastic, motivated, productive and never tired
I have to confess: I hate the word “productive”. It’s 7 am and you’re still sleeping? That girl you follow on Instagram has already got up, cleaned her apartment, made breakfast, completed a 1-hour training in the gym, took a shower, and has already been working for an hour! You’re wasting your time! Do you even want to ever become successful? You’re such a failu… Sometimes I think that I’m so low-energy that it’s embarrassing and sometimes I think that society wants everyone to be overachievers.
The truth about introverts is that social interactions take away our energy. We don’t feel better or at least the same after communicating with most people. That is why it’s hard for introverts to work at extroverted jobs. The less people are around us – the better.
And it’s okay to have less energy than someone else. I don’t get up at 7 because if I did, I’d be wasting time for several hours because of not feeling well, then I’d be too tired in the afternoon because I woke up too early. People are not robots. We need time to relieve stress and restore our energy. We need time to just enjoy life without the need to rush, surpass, and achieve. If I need more time than someone else, it’s fine by me. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone on social media or be an overachiever.
Personality rights of introverts must be respected
We have freedom of expression and personality rights but there’s still people who make remarks and judge the lifestyle of introverts. For example, my mom who is an extrovert, often judges me because I don’t spend time with friends; because I don’t congratulate our relatives via phone (I text instead); because I don’t care about other people’s opinions which is why I can wear a beanie even in May if I’m cold (she is afraid of social disapproval).
Citing Criss Jami, an American poet, the author of Venus in Arms: “In an extroverted society, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that an introvert is often unconsciously deemed guilty until proven innocent.”
Introverts, we are not guilty! We don’t have to fit in. We don’t have to apologize for our choice to live the way we do. Let’s not let some toxic extroverts tell us what we should do and how we should live. Stay true to yourself no matter what!
Introversion is a gift, not a curse
Introversion is neither a curse nor a disease. Introverts are self-sufficient. Our mood and wellbeing does not depend on the need to socialize. Introverts generate energy within them, in solitude, while extroverts get their energy from other people. Introverts are people of great ideas. According to research, there is correlation between introversion and intelligence: introversion increases with intelligence as more than 75% of people with IQ above 160 are introverts. Also, according to that research, 60% of gifted children are introverted. Some of the famous introverts are Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Abraham Lincoln, Emma Watson, J.K. Rowling, Warren Buffet, Steven Spielberg, and Elon Musk. As you can see, there’s nothing impossible for introverts. To live a fulfilled life one doesn’t have to be an extrovert. On the contrary, introverts are very self-aware which means that they know themselves, their aspirations, desires, and motives very well.
So, yes, I am an introvert. I don’t enjoy spending time with friends. I feel emotional exhaustion after social interactions. Small talks annoy me. I don’t feel obliged to start or keep up a conversation. I don’t know how extroverts expect me to respond to their actions and words because I don’t want to respond. I don’t understand what drives people to engage in conversations with strangers and spend time on maintaining friendships. Other people’s opinions hold little value to me. And last but not least, of course I’m emotionally unavailable for most people, as extroverts would say. See 11 Things that Annoy Introverts.
Introverts don’t need to be fixed, cured or helped to become more social and outgoing. Introverts are self-sufficient. We don’t suffer when left alone at a party. We are not sad. Social isolation doesn’t make us depressed. We thrive in solitude.
Introverts, remember: if being an introvert and preferring books, hobbies, work, and alone time to communication with people doesn’t cause inconveniences to you, it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone else because your way of life is none of their business.
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