Redefined: Introvert


“Me? An introvert? What. No way. Why?” a junior responded when she was told she looked like an introvert.
For most, being called introverted is more of an insult than a blessing. You don’t hear a lot of “thank-yous” in reply when someone calls another an introvert. Most of the time it’s either a gentle or vehement denial that follows the I-think-you’re-introverted “accusation”.
But according to psychiatrist Carl Jung, the only difference between extroverts and introverts is that the former finds social situations energizing and the latter, enervating. In other words, extroverts return from parties feeling invigorated and introverts return from parties feeling exhausted. These introverts need to stay alone to “recharge” for the next few days.
One word that is missing from this definition is “shyness”. According to Susan Cain, author of the New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts, it is a huge misconception that all introverts are shy. She says, “introversion is just a preference for quieter, more minimally stimulating environments” while “shyness is a fear of social judgment.” Since these two are mutually exclusive, there can be shy extroverts and vise versa.
Many people that seem light-years away from introversion self-identify are introverts. Emma Watson says, “It’s interesting, because people say things to me like, ‘It’s really cool that you don’t go out and get drunk all the time and go to clubs.’ I appreciate that, but I’m kind of an introverted kind of person just by nature…it’s not a conscious choice that I’m making necessarily. It’s genuinely who I am.” Other famous self-identified introverts include Bill Gates, Christina Aguilera, Audrey Hepburn, and Warren Buffet.
Are we more introverted at TAS? Teachers frequently note the lack of class participation, especially in discussion based subjects, like history. But Mr Ives, upper school psychology teacher, clarifies that “this is not necessarily because TAS has a lot of introverts.” Instead, he says that “the environment has a strong impact on how people act. Most Asian cultures emphasize the importance of being respectful towards superiors. This can make extroverts appear introverted. But the kid who doesn’t speak up much during class might also be the kid who goes wild on Friday nights with his friends.”
Nonetheless, introversion is not better or worse than extroversion. They are just different qualities with their own set of pros and cons. But the extroversion dominated society has marginalized the introverted traits while overvaluing the extroverted ones. Introverts today struggle to correct this imbalance because they believe that introversion is a trait that should be cherished, not concealed.