We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. – Mary Dunbar
Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Introversion is Different From Being Shy
I had a friend Kate back in school who did well in getting her grades. She didn’t do that great with socializing among other classmates as she preferred studying in her proud solitude. That worried her parents immensely. Kate was pushed off the cliff into situations where it was expected from her to be bubbly, social and outgoing (everything she was not), like most of the extroverts are.
The more fun activities we had in the class (where she would prefer to stay at her desk and do some reading), the more stress it caused her when she was being pushed to do something she felt rather uncomfortable doing.
I am an extrovert; am also a shy person on the other hand. Whenever our teacher would suggest some activity, I would look forward to it but would have held back to make the first step to participating. Interaction never caused me any stress, and by being among people, I felt energized as if the energy was spread and shared. Whereas Kate seemed to be drained and needed some time-out to recharge her batteries. Long story short, she was mistakingly perceived as a shy person, not an introvert. It was believed that the more she was being pushed into socializing, the more her chances were to overcome “shyness” (introversion).
Introversion is not something to fight with or to overcome. It is something you were born with, a trait of personality. It is like the color of your eyes. Shyness, on the other hand, is the fear of social judgment, especially if you step into a room full of strangers in unfamiliar situations.
Introverts find their comfort in calm, low-key places and they would rather read a book than go and dance in the club. Extensive socializing for introverts is an emotionally draining experience – shy people, on the other hand, do not always prefer solitude. They are just timid to connect with other people.
The more shy person interacts with people getting more familiar with them, the more he overcomes his shyness.
Extroverts are open and outgoing and always crave high energy stimulation, extreme sports (anything to make them feel alive), interaction with new people, whereas introverts don’t tend to seek all that… At the end of the day, the difference between being shy and being an introvert comes down to how we feel about the shortfall of social communication. An introvert is absolutely at peace with the decision of staying at home and reading a book in stillness and solitude… A shy person would love to go out there and meet people but is too scared to face new situations and acquaintances.
Here’s a thought that crossed my mind. An introvert is a person who is cozy and comfortable within his permanent shell. A shy person is an individual who has his temporary shell which he would love to lose at any given moment.
Extrovert & Introvert: The Key to Understanding Both
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.– Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
My friend Kate is convinced that there is this stigma that being an extrovert is more beneficial and will get you further in life (oh, what a joke!). There is this stigma, that being introvert is unacceptable, especially for your school, university, workplace. You need to be something else, anything, but not who you are.
I am an introverted extrovert. And I remember feeling guilty for my “insane desire” to stay home with books rather than going to someone’s Birthday. I remember feeling sick to my stomach whenever I had to go and meet new people in a crowded room of strangers. I remember plenty of stories on the same subject: I remember being ashamed of being myself. At other times, I needed people and to be around them, to learn and find something new. And I remember feeling weird as if I didn’t belong in any category: extrovert or introvert as I had the tendencies of both.
Carl Jung once said, that there’s no such thing as “pure” extrovert or an introvert, which suggests that we act and react in different situations according to our unique inner sense of “what feels right” – so it is perfectly OK to be an introvert or an extrovert as long as it’s natural.
Whenever we don’t fall into frames of the world’s “what is right” and acceptable, we feel as if our unique selves don’t deserve a spot in the sun. We feel as if being ourselves is wrong, demeaning and… anything but what the world expects from us to be.
But oh my word… I wish we could pass all that and learn how to love and accept ourselves just the way we are. I wish for us to stop searching for the tools on “how to turn an introvert into extrovert” and just let ourselves be.
The more we are trying to be who we are not, the deeper the slump in our self-esteem becomes as we think that to be ourselves is not enough.
To Kate, solitude matters immensely! For her, solitude is the air that she breathes. Solitude is crucial when we are on the avenue of creativity. And for some reason, people around her made her believe that something was wrong with her. Nothing is wrong with being an introvert or an extrovert. It’s like a never-ending argument on the subject of which way should toilet roll unfold. The answer: IT DOESN’T MATTER.
There is no right or wrong way to be. We are who we are. We are here to be ourselves, not the images that the world throws in our face and sells under the label: approved or acceptable.
Have you ever felt this way: that being you is not enough? Share your insights in a comment section below.