INTO THE WORLD OF AN INTROVERT
By Maya Stratman
I don’t avoid conversations with people because I’m a Scrooge. It’s not that I want to stay home all the time — it’s more that I need a couple hours to regroup after hanging out with people. And as for socratic seminars, I swear there’s plenty I could say about “Dubliners,” but I just internalize my thoughts.
I’m not a recluse, hermit or outsider — I’m just an introvert.
Psychology Today reported that as few as 16-50 percent of the population are introverts compared to as many as 50-74 percent being extroverts. And while being among less than 1/5 of our society is daunting, there are still major perks to being introverted — it’s all about finding those places I can excel and using them to stay ahead.
Recognizing my personality type has allowed me to work with the skills I have and work around the ones I don’t — and by this I mean maybe steering away from volunteering to read “Hamlet” aloud in class and instead, be the person who goes home and does background research for the class.
Being an introvert means that I’m comfortable in my independence and thrive when I’m left to work on projects alone. Because introverts receive energy from spending time away from people, I’m left to make decisions and choose which winter sweater to choose from Forever 21 without the input of my friends. I can spend the whole day running errands, working out and taking time to relax at the park without feeling out of place. This inverted autonomy is beneficial when those around me can’t for the life of them choose between Chipotle or Noodles Co. — leave it to the introvert to be the decisive one of the group.
Sadly, it’s harder to get ahead sitting at home regrouping because we live in a society that tends to favor extrovert qualities — loud, outspoken and charismatic people.
But I can still find ways to have fun with friends through the specific introvert trait I resonate with most — our ability to listen and connect with people on intimate levels.
Because I’m not outgoing or outspoken I find it hard to have a lot of “school friends.” You know, the ones you partner up with for the psychology projects everytime but as soon as you reach the parking lot it’s like you never knew each other.
Instead, I tend to have a smaller social circle, that I text all the time or know almost everything about. And while having those school friends is comforting, I am content with the relationships in my own life. I am never the one to begin a conversation, but I find it natural to listen to others, and to connect with people on that intimate level and let them vent about things they didn’t even know they needed to.
So while I might not be the Troy Bolten or Sharpay of high school, I can find peace in being the MVP pianist Kelsi Nielsen.
EXTRA WORDS, EXTRA WORRIES
By Alex Freeman
Silence falls over the room as soon as the discussion question is asked. Three seconds pass, then five, then eight. I can’t take the crickets anymore.
I raise my hand and choke out a “Well, I think …” before falling into a rambling explanation about James Joyce’s views on religion in the book “Dubliners.” Finally, I finish talking. Who knew someone could go a full minute without breathing?
But I know when the next question is asked, my thoughts will start circulating and my token “to talk or not to talk” soliloquy will replay in my head.
I have a lot to say. Every personality test I take tells me I’m an extrovert, which, for me, means that talking and being around other people gives me energy — verbalizing information is how I learn and how I interact with the world. It happens without me trying.
The core problem: being an extrovert causes me to talk a lot, which I’m afraid drives people away from me even though I have a core desire to be well-liked. No one wants to listen to nonsensical babble, and I don’t want to come off as the person who thinks what I have to say is more important than what everyone else is saying. So I need to figure out what is worth saying and what should be kept to myself.
I constantly find myself apologizing for opening my mouth — “sorry” is a preface to every statement made in a socratic seminar and an afterthought to each accidental interruption.
I know how irritating it can be when I can’t get in a word when the person I’m chatting with is talking non-stop at 300 words per minute. Whenever I catch myself talking too much, I hear a not-so-little voice in my head screaming “SHUT UP!” — with maybe a few more expletives than I can say in a school newspaper.
At the same time, I have an urge to add my perspective to just about any conversation — a wicked combination of my extrovertive tendencies and learning style. I’m always either berating myself for chiming in with an unnecessary comment or biting my inner lip to make sure I don’t dominate the conversation.
But I’m trying to find a balance.
I know I need to give others a chance to speak during class discussions and stop making snarky comments about how much homework we have to my neighbor who’s trying to focus — and I’m trying to hold my tongue.
Still, talking is integral to my personality and understanding of the world, and that’s not going to change. I shouldn’t feel a compulsion to apologize for saying what I believe or for talking my way through an idea so it makes sense to me. Through merely reminding myself of this, I prevent more “sorrys” from tumbling out of my mouth.
So if constantly hearing my voice annoys you, I’m truly sorry — shoot, I did it again. But I’m tired of resisting one of the first things I learned to do: talk.