I used to hate the fact that I was an introvert. When I was a teenager and I would go to parties, I would always end up sitting in some corner, wracked with discomfort, out of place, wishing I could be more like the extroverts in the room.
These days, I’m happy not going to parties at all, and if I do go, I generally don’t care about not fitting in, which ironically, helps me fit in. As for the extroverts, most of the time I just wish they’d shut the fuck up.
Introverts are a lot more accepted by society these days. Back when I was young (Jesus, did I really just say that?), it didn’t feel like introverts where accepted at all. To get on in the world, to be somebody, you had to be an extrovert. That was the prevailing world view as I saw it.
That attitude has changed now, although there is still a long way to go before introversion is as celebrated as extroversion. At least being an introvert these days is no longer considered to be some kind of disability or affliction. Introversion is even celebrated by some these days.
Which is great. Extroversion is over rated anyway. There’s nothing more annoying to me than someone who feels the need to be “on” all the time. It just seems that extroverts are trying to make up for something when they take the stage every time they go out.
I’ve been close to may extroverts over the years, some of which were close fiends for a long time. As much as I enjoyed their company, they gave little back and their ego’s could never be satisfied. They craved attention and often displayed disturbing narcissistic traits.
Am I saying that all extroverts are insecure, over confident blabbermouths that only care about themselves? No, of course not. But at the same time, many are.
It’s a fact that the world is ruled by extroverts. Men with huge egos and pathological narcissism decide what is best for the world, or rather what is best for them and then the world.
In society itself, extroversion is celebrated and admired like it is the pinnacle of human evolutionary behavior. Most mainstream culture is so in your face and so demanding of your attention that it drowns out any kind of inner reflection or creative thought, which of course is the whole point. The less people in society think for themselves, the less they think creatively and imaginatively, the less of a threat they are and the easier they are to control. In a fear based society, control is important.
Running alongside extroversion is the dominance of the masculine perspective. We live in a patriarchal society, the matriarchal influence having been ruthlessly controlled over many centuries, as it continues to be today. It’s no surprise then that extroversion, or at least the worst aspects of it, is so celebrated. As a result we have perpetual war and unrest, ruthless pursuit of power and money, and a generally uncaring society conditioned by fear.
As with all things though, the argument of introversion versus extroversion is never black and white. Extroversion as a way of behaving still holds value if it is kept in check with a balanced sense of introversion. Balance being the key word here.
Being too much of an introvert can be a real hindrance in a society like ours. If you are so withdrawn that you can’t adequately make your way in the world, your going to have problems. A bit of extroversion is needed to pull you out of your shell when needed so you can make human connections.
As nice as it may be to some to just sit within themselves constantly without hardly any human interaction beyond the most superficial (that’s the dream anyway…), it just isn’t healthy or wise to be to be like that.
It is also well known that many introverts are creative, but being a total introvert is hardly ever good for a creative. Creatives need to get their work out there, they have to interact with others and make connections. A bit of extroversion goes a long way in helping one to achieve that.
I don’t normally like to think in such black and white terms anyway. To me, everything is a grey area and I always try to see both sides of an argument (the introvert in me!). Not all extroverts are bad and not all introverts are good, or even creative. Similarly, extroversion has a good side and introversion has a bad side and vice versa.
It comes back to balance again. As I’ve gotten older my personality has leveled out a good deal. I’ve also worked on myself to correct certain weaknesses and capitalized on certain strengths. That has helped me become more balanced.
Perhaps most importantly I have come to be comfortable with the fact that I am predominantly an introvert. That has been the key to further growth for me, or one of them anyway.
I’m happy to be an introvert. More importantly, I’m happy to be myself most of time, which is often one of life’s greater challenges.
I’m still working on it, but I’m at least happy to be an introvert now…and I no longer have existential crises at parties or fear saying more than two words at a time in public. Still hate loudmouths though…