An introvert living in an extroverted world
I often think I am not cut out for this cut-throat world we live in. It goes by too fast and there are far too many big personalities in it for my liking. I do not think my personality is suited to the world as it stands today. The world seems to want and accept only loud, strong personalities with big egos, none of which I have. OK, maybe not the ego part because all humans are born with an ego but you get my drift.
I find myself often getting swallowed up in day to day life and I feel invisible. I do know that we create our own existence so perhaps I am to blame for allowing myself not be heard, my voice not raised loud enough so you can hear it echo from the cliff tops of Dover. Introduced to a new people, it is easy for them not to remember me – I don’t exactly stand out from the crowd. In fact I am fairly unmemorable. I’m certainly not cool or trendy and I cannot cure the world of cancer. It would be good to be Italian – they are naturally gifted at being loud without having to try (I love Italians by the way). Oh but for me I have to try to make the effort for you to even remember my name. However having an unusual name does help with that.
But I am not here to beat myself up about being unforgettable. I can accept that. But what I have a problem with is the world not accepting personalities like my own; the quiet achiever who goes about their business efficiently without the need to show off or name drop or exaggerate stories or situations so people will think they’re interesting, yet always feel the pressure to conform to be something or someone they are not. I am an introvert living in this materialistic, extroverted world created by and for extroverts and I also happen to be working in an extroverted field – marketing and communications. Yes that is my choice but it was my writing skills – not my sales skills – that got me working in this field. Unfortunately the majority of people who work in this space are predominantly extroverted buffoons with huge, huge egos. I worked in the corporate arena once and I hated it. I hated the pretence of people who believed they were so important but lacked the morals their parents never instilled in them. I am not suggesting all extroverted people and those that work in the corporate world are terrible people, but not everybody is extroverted and we introverts let our actions do the talking for us, not our mouth.
What exactly is an introvert you may be wondering? Well to put it simply, we are the opposite of an extrovert. Extroverts tend to draw their energy from interacting with people and come alive at gatherings and parties with lots of people. Extroverts thrive on change and new experiences. They truly adore the hustle and bustle of modern life. They should, after all they created it.
Now as for us introverts, well that is a different story altogether. We tend to be the quiet, unassuming folks you see blending into the background. We tend to draw our energy from within ourselves and too much outside stimulation tends to drain us. That doesn’t mean that we introverts do not like people or enjoy their company. It’s just that we prefer to limit our exposure to smaller groups of people for shorter periods of time. However, introverts are not your average wallflower. We are not all shy or antisocial by any means. We tend to have a very active inner life and we create our energy from such activities as reading, writing, and just about any other solitary venture. (Surprise, surprise).
Before I go further, it must be stated that introverts are not better than extroverts or vise-versa. Both are merely personality types, with extroverts making up approximately 75 per cent of the population, and introverts just 25 per cent. Extroverts might be aptly classified as the doers and introverts as the thinkers. Thats not to imply that extroverts do not think or that introverts do not do. Both types just have different temperaments. It pretty much boils down to how each type generates their unique energy.
I started a course last week and it consists mainly of people from corporate backgrounds with years of experience in traditional marketing. 10 per cent of the course grade must be earned through class participation. That means having to ask lots of questions and actively participate in class discussions every week. That may seem reasonable to some of you but it struck me that this course does not cater to us quiet type of characters. There are a lot of strong personalities in the class, many of which have strong egos and for good reason I suppose. On the train home after the course, an overwhelming sense of loneliness came over me.
To me, it just seems to get ahead in today’s world you have to have a big personality of which I do not have. I have never been one to generally ask a lot of questions in a class environment because I learn more effectively by observing and absorbing all of the information. As a result, those of us that have a quite nature are made to suffer the consequences i.e. I am a risk of not earning 10 per cent of the course grade due to my personality type. Now I think, how is that fair? If I choose to observe and listen in class why should I be penalised for that? I consider that to be participatory. Now I will be going to class every week for the next three months with my anxiety levels so high that I may not be able to learn and absorb everything that is being taught due to the pressure of now having to conform and actively participate in a way I am not comfortable to do. I thought adult learning was meant to feel like we are not at school?
Us modest, quiet types can be just as ambitious and goal driven as the rest of them and dare I say, entrepreneurial. We just don’t have the need to tell everyone about it. We are capable of creating as much success as we desire. Did you know that Lucille Ball and Tom Hanks were all shy at one time in their lives? Lucille Ball, the woman we watched stuffing chocolates in her mouth from a conveyor belt with sidekick Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy. Perceived as shy by teachers at her drama school and discouraged from pursuing a career in show business, Lucille Ball did not give up. The rest is history.
For personal growth reasons, this course is probably ideal. It will challenge me to interact with people I do not normally interact with and get me out of my comfort zone, which is the core issue. I understand this and I do understand we have to do things in life we do not always want to do and enjoy. Suck it up sister I can hear you say. Well, that maybe so and I will suck it up for the next three months for your information. I would like to see a world where people accept and are tolerant of all personality types that co-exist together. Not all of us interested in becoming the next Zig Ziglar but there are some of us that would like to become the next Jane Austen.
Any introverts or (extroverts) out there that would like to share their experiences?