DI Voices | Don’t forget the introverts

By Storey Childs, Columnist

The American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology defines introversion as a “broad personality trait” and an “orientation toward the internal private world of one’s self and one’s inner thoughts and feelings, rather than toward the outer world of people and things.” 

I find this definition to be limiting, and to have a negative connotation. The fact that it is a “broad personality trait” is not something that I can disagree with. That being said, I contest the fact that being an introvert means that you have a complete disconnect with the “outer world,” and all who live in it.  

Within my own experiences, my inner thoughts are a large part of my identity as a human. 

It simply means that when I sit on a bench outside, I sit with myself. I like to put my headphones in. I would rather study my notes before class than socialize with those around me. It is who I am, and these “inner thoughts and feelings” are what helps me live my authentic life.

So why is this something that people perceive to be a bad trait?

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    For a long time, I believed that society was meant for extroverts and that this “outer world,” as the American Psychological Association likes to define it, is not meant for people like me who like to live in their “internal private world of one’s self.” 

    This meant that I, and who I perceive myself to be, was somehow inadequate. How was I supposed to get a job? Or be able to socialize in college? Or even be able to say “Hi” in an elevator?

    But here is the thing: What I have come to believe is that extroverts are no more or less capable of thinking and feeling, they just demonstrate a higher level of confidence.

    Take everyone’s favorite activity: class presentations. Countless times have I sat in a classroom, watching people present a slideshow showing nothing but proficiency. I then think, how do they do it so well? How is it that they seem like they have no doubts of not only their work, but their ability to show it?

    It is because the characteristic of confidence creates a sense that one is more competent or skilled than the rest. They speak, and they speak loudly.  

    The expectation that everyone should express their feelings this way excludes many groups of people, including introverts. 

    I say that it is time to forget this thinking. Let’s value introverts for who they are — because we are more than you may see.

    If you are a good listener, harness that. Be observant. Lead with compassion and what you know that you are capable of. It is good to challenge oneself, and oftentimes that means tapping into the qualities that you already possess: thoughtfulness, empathy and attention to detail.

    I want to reform the American Psychological Association’s definition to explain introversion in a way that recognizes its positive qualities.

    The scientific facts can’t be denied, but we should change the sentiment.

    I propose this definition: Introversion is a “broad personality trait” consisting of thoughtful contemplation, the ability to effectively observe and the sense that, though they may spend time in their internal thoughts, they recognize the “outer world of people and things” for all that it holds.

    So don’t forget the introverts. We are here — just a little quieter — waiting for the right time to step into our own light.

     

    Storey is a junior in LAS.

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