The value of Introverts
What is an introvert?
An introvert can be any number of different type of people. Everyone varies on what makes them them, but people tend to identify as an introvert or an extrovert. Although, a person can be anyone on the spectrum of these two general personality types, they are usually more of one or the other. But with that being said, a person could be in the middle, and they would be called person is called an ambivert.
I stray away from the book definition of an introvert because some of the definitions make introverts seem to be anti-social or shy. I also want to avoid a definition of an introvert because people vary so much, and there isn't one definition an "introvert " or of an "extrovert" for that matter.
I would define an introvert by using myself, since I know myself the best. I find that I enjoy being social. I like having friends, talking to people, etc. etc. But not in the same amount as some people. I would say that my need to socialize is much less than the majority of other people, but I still have the need just like anyone else to be social.
I prefer being in small groups of friends versus large groups. So parties and other large gatherings tend to not be my preference and make me feel uncomfortable. My 'true' colors shine when I'm in small groups of people. It's where I'm most comfortable. If I do happen to go to a party or a large gathering, I get mentally tired from it. After such an event I find that I need time to be alone to recharge.
Being alone isn't a bad thing for me, I tend to prefer it most of the time. I find it relaxing.
I have heard a comparison between an introvert and an extrovert by using cups. The cups being metal stimulation. Both cups are the same size. But an introvert's cup is a lot more full than an extrovert's cup, most of the time. So the amount of outside stimulation needed is much lower for introvert than an extrovert. If that cup runs dry, the person feels isolated and alone, but if the cup becomes too full the person feels overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Extrovert Centered Schools
From a young age, people are encouraged to be extremely social at every opportunity. I remember this vividly from my school years growing up and from my current schooling. I don't mind working alone and often find group work wasteful because working by myself is more efficient a lot of the time. Although, there are times where working in groups is necessary to help tackle large tasks.
Working in groups is something that has always been an extreme focus during my schooling. There is a huge emphasis to being involved and being extremely social.
Being involved in many groups, going to parties, hanging out, etc. etc. may not seem "extreme" to some people, but for an introvert constant socialization is overwhelming. Being able to be extremely social is a trait that is sought after, looked up to, and rewarded within the schools.
I don't think this should be the case. i want to see a school system and society that values all kinds of people, no matter what their natural tendencies are.
What should changed in schools?
I want to start off by saying that skills like speaking in front of groups, group work, and other various group related endeavors are part of a very important skill set that should be part of schools. I have no problem with students having to give presentations or oral reports or whatever, but there should be more balance.
Various kinds of introvert geared activities should be emphasized more. Things like working alone and doing things individually should be equally valued in schools. Not only because it helps introverts learn in their preferred way but because it's just as important for students to learn how to work by themselves as it is to work in groups.
The ability to work through problems and do work individually is a skill that is under taught and not emphasized enough throughout schools.
It's something that came natural to me. in math, if I didn't understand a problem, I would keep re-doing the same problem over and over until I got the correct answer and until I knew how to do it. Or when I read, if there is a sentence I don't understand right away, I will re-read it over and over until I understand it. I was never taught to do that kind of thing, it just has always come natural to me.
For someone that doesn't have that kind of thing come naturally to them, it is imperative that they learn those skills because it will help function better in society. Being able to problem solve on your own is a valuable skill across fields.
Conversely, i never liked speaking in front of groups. I still don't for the most part. But I have learned how to do it better by practicing it, I have improved my speaking skills. Without practicing it, I wouldn't have been able to get better at it. I wouldn't be at the point where I am now where I'm mostly comfortable doing it.
The same goes for group work. my skills working within a group have improved with practice. I tend to be the guy who sits quietly in the group unless he has an idea to share, but that isn't a bad thing. It's part of the group dynamic. Not everyone can lead the discussion in the group. I have also learned the skill of recognizing when someone needs to take charge of the group and being able to be the one who does that.
These are all valuable skills that enhance my natural abilities.
But I find the converse set of skills to be troubling. I find that people who tend to gravitate towards group work and depend on it are not as likely to come up with solutions or ideas for the group without the group. They present the problem but tend to not be able to present any solutions or answers for various problems. I think this is one of the benefits of being an introverts. I'm always thinking. So I tend to think of a bunch of different ideas,. I have observed that once an idea has been presented, the group usually starts to flow with more ideas. But it seems that there needs to be someone to start the fire that gets the group going.
I have noticed some people who have problems 'getting started' doing a certain assignment in a class we share. An example would be writing a paper. I find this troublesome because it's hard to constantly depend on other people to have ideas or to spark them all the time. And it takes away from unique thoughts and creative thinking if someone is always doing the idea thinking for you.
We need a society where everyone is able to think of ideas individually and collectively and be able to express them. Introvert and extrovert skills are critical to have a high functioning school, work place, and group structure. .
The problem in society
" I recently was turned down for a job because in a group discussion I didn't speak up as often as others. This made me feel like I had to change who I was in order to ever be successful. I feel that because I am not an outspoken person that I will never make an impression despite being friendly and intelligent. Just because I am not outgoing and prefer sitting in playing Skyrim than going to parties, does not mean I am any less capable to do a job than someone who is more extroverted. I feel as though I have to create a new character for these situations which makes me feel like I am betraying my self in the process."
This comment is something I have seen similar versions in other places and in different versions in my life. Being being loud, and being outspoken are traits that are desired in people in a variety of positions. But it isn't something that one needs to have in order to be successful or to be the default leader to look to.
Many people that are successes today are natural introverts.
Confessions of a passionate introvert: Brian Little at TEDxOxbridge
Susan Cain: The power of introverts
What should be done?
There is a lot that can be done that could improve the way introverts are treated in society today. I believe a lot of it starts in the schools. I view a lot of the social issues that face society today could be helped tremendously by getting students to question their own views throughout their time in school. .
It's hard for introverts in society. People are naturally not eager to be extremely social are expected to go against their nature. And if they don't, they are looked down upon by peers because being extremely social is viewed as the desired behavior.
The biggest thing that I want to get across is that being an introvert is just as normal as being an extrovert of anything in-between the two. All kinds of personalities should be valued by society. And society, in general, benefits from having different types of people in it. Different views and perspectives allows people to make unique connections and have new ideas about everything.
We need to, as a society, value people for what they are and not what we view them needing to be. People should learn various things like working groups and speaking in front of people, but that shouldn't be the only thing they learn. Extroverts can stand to learn about the benefits of the different tendencies of introverts. Vice versa.
Every person is unique and provides value to making a complete society. One kind of person, one set of values, or kind of traits shouldn't be allowed to be sought as the only way of being. Allowing people to learn how to be themselves the best they can should the focus of what we teach students. Allowing people to be how they are is the most productive way to get the most out of every individual.
Here is an article that talks about 16 successful introverts. Give it a read.