An honest Monologue from an Introvert During this Pandemic
For the past twenty years, I have wondered, again and again, whether I am an introvert or not? I am sure that I am no extrovert, but I can’t seem to be sure whether I am an introvert or not. I prefer one-to-one conversation than group conversations; I always feel overwhelmed and exhausted after social networking events with strangers, but when it’s just myself at home I feel energized all the time; and I really don’t enjoy any social networking.
So what made me doubt myself?
Well, it is true that I don’t have many friends, but I can talk hours and hours excitedly with my close friends; I enjoy staying at home for a long time, but I also adore going outside to enjoy the views; I don’t like networking, but I am also good at it; I can pretend real good that people usually think of me as someone with a great sense of humor.
And so I realized that the doubts that I had on myself might come from my stereotypes to what is introvert. Thus, before writing this article, I started to wonder, what does psychologists online define introverts and extroverts？
So I went on and Googled “introvert”, and this was what I got：
Amazing! So introverts are just a bunch of shy people.
Sure, good enough!
To not give up that easily, I went on to search on some renown psychology websites. After I compared the results I got from these websites, I realized, (these people don’t even know what they are talking about!) every websites have their own definition of introvert.
American Psychological Association defines introverts as:
“Orientation toward the internal private world of one’s self and one’s inner thoughts and feelings, rather than toward the outer world of people and things. Introversion is a broad personality trait and, like extraversion, exists on a continuum of attitudes and behaviors.”
And then I found out that on Britannica, a website that might be more reliable than Wikipedia, defines introvert as:
“The typical introvert is shy, contemplative, and reserved and tends to have difficulty adjusting to social situations. Excessive daydreaming and introspection, careful balancing of considerations before reaching decisions, and withdrawal under stress are also typical of the introverted personality.”
Nevertheless, on a website that claims to educate the public on psychology, I found out that they define introverts as:
“Introverts do not fear or dislike others, and they are neither shy nor plagued by loneliness. A crowded cocktail party may be torture for introverts, but they enjoy one-on-one engagement in calm environments, which is more suited to the make-up of their nervous system.”
Although these sources seem to be better than Google dictionary, I still find myself very confused. What the hell, are introverts?
With all these confusions in mind, I have decided to keep searching for more information. A “mysterious power” pulled me to see this article: “How parents can help introverts thrive (without trying to turn them into extroverts)”
After seeing the title of this article, my mind immediately started to rewind stories in the past. When I was young, my mother told me to “make as many friends as possible so that when I need help, there will always be someone there to help me.” When I went off to college, she told me that “I should participate in all kinds of networking event so that I will have a greater chance of getting a good job.”
The problem is that she is certainly not the only one who thinks that way. When I was in high school in Ohio, my host family thought I was not smart because I never participated in class. In one of my English classes, my fellow classmates thought I did not know how to speak English correctly because I never spoke in class.
Of course I understand why they would think this way, because American culture has always endorsed outgoingness as well as extrovert. I can understand that, but it does not mean that I like it. In fact, I have always hated this kind of stereotypes.
I hate my host mom’s casual conversation on my “smartness”; I hate my classmates’ shocking faces after I properly answered my teacher’s question one day. To me, I am doing something I know I am capable of doing. But to them, it was like I progressed from an F to a B in class.
This is why that after seeing another article being attached to that article called “Your introverted child has secret strengths, says Susan Cain in her new book ‘Quiet Power’”, I got mad again.
The person who wrote this article was probably meant to propose that introversion is not a bad thing. But this starting point is wrong in itself. It shows how many people still think that introversion is a problem, not a characteristic. Every time I saw blog posts asking “what should I do as an introvert？” I felt so sad. Our society does not want to allow possibilities of differences.
I am not saying that introverts are perfect, in that they don’t have any weakness. Everyone has weakness. I believe that we should not enlarge the strength on one side and enlarge the weakness on the other side to try to build a “perfect world”.
It’s like I have heard of Americans complaining that many Chinese international students are too loud in the library. But at least based on my observation, every country has people who do not respect other people. This thing does not have to do with nationality or race. But sometimes when we hold untrue stereotypes for some groups as well as love for our own group, we are more likely to catch every mistakes they make and ignore most mistakes we make.
Thus, I would like to say, in the most straightforward tone, as well as a little shameless attitude, to all the extroverts who suffered because of the pandemic：
Now you can finally understand what it is like to be an introvert in this world every day！
Over the past year on Zoom classes, I can hear people complaining how they cannot concentrate to study at home and how they are stressed out… I of course understand this helpless kind of feeling because we stay home involuntarily.
But I really hope that after going through this pandemic, people who wants to change others to become more like an extrovert can remember the discomfort they felt during the pandemic. This is what it feels to be forced into something you know you don’t belong to.
I also hope that people who are introverts know how normal and unique we all are. At the end of the day, introversion and extroversion, like genders, are just two categories humans try to categorize each other. But the use of categories should be to help us better understand ourselves. It should not be the case that one group need to change just because they are themselves.