P.S. Positivity: On Introverts


Photo Credit: https://www.atlassian.com/blog/teamwork/working-with-introverts

By Sara Khan, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When asked about his or her youth, a person will almost always recall the lasting friendship they created with multiple groups of people. Society always encourages children to develop such relationships and ridicules those who may choose to grow up shy. As a child, I was always taught that if I didn’t have many friends, I wouldn’t be successful or have a positive influence on others in my adult life. But, in reality, what lasting effect comes from not being extroverted as a child? Can someone be introverted as a child, and still become successful as an adult? Friendships do not correlate to success in business and other pursuits in the latter part of life.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “numerous entrepreneurs and CEOs are either self-admitted introverts, or have so many introverted qualities that they are widely known to be introverts.”

The first thought that comes to mind when an entrepreneur is mentioned to me is someone who is very open, social, and helps get the message behind his or her products and businesses across to consumers. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the majority of CEOs and successful business people we see today are quiet and humble, yet powerful leaders. In his teenage years, Bill Gates had a few friends help him create more efficient software programs on a computer his mother collected for him from the Mothers Club that she used to attend. Because of his fascinating interest, Gates was excused from all math classes to pursue his interest, removing himself partially from the social scene at his school. Although Gates was not the most social student and only had four close friends to help him, the passion he set forth to develop one of the most successful software companies in the world proved to be more important than learning how to be extroverted. Without secluding himself to hone his talents, technology would not be as advanced as it is today.

Entrepreneurs aren’t the only people that are conventionally extroverted but tend to be introverted. Teachers, as well, can be introverts and be successful.

In fact, according to Business Insider, “introverted leaders are generally considered to be better listeners than extroverted leaders.”

Students, for the most part, tend to be loud, annoying, and complain often when certain aspects of their life do not go as planned. Therefore, as a teacher, it is very important that listening to the problems of students, or listening to others in general, is something you can do with ease. Personally, as an introvert, I find it hard to talk to others about my problems, and I often speak with either a very close friend or a teacher that I feel is very similar to me when an issue arises. In classroom situations, extroverted teachers seem intimidating to me, and introverts are calmer, more comforting people to be around. Additionally, as a teacher, it is important to observe the actions of students and talk to them about anything that may seem unusual without scaring them. Introverts are easier to approach and often do not provoke a sense of fear in students that other, more stern, aggressive educators might. Without the ability to communicate to others in this manner, students would never be encouraged to try new things or do something out of the ordinary.

Aside from jobs, normal adults outside of their workplace do not necessarily need extroversion to maintain relationships with others of their age. For example, my parent, a naturally introverted woman, loved to read books by herself at recess as a child, and often preferred seclusion over a large group of friends with her. Likewise, I occasionally prefer sitting by myself or with one friend during a free period or class rather than sitting at a large table with multiple other students. However, people perceive this trait as antisocial behavior, so I avoid sitting alone under most circumstances. As children, we are always taught to think that life revolves around having multiple friends, but in reality, those who remain aloof can still be considered normal people. My mother now has a small group of friends from work that she talks to and spends time with when it allows. When she feels that she wants to be alone, she sits by herself in her room. Although my mom may not always want to be around a group of people, she still maintains good social skills regardless of her upbringing. Social skills are often formed as children grow into adolescence and adulthood. Therefore, the need to immediately immerse people into a world of popularity becomes unnecessary.

According to Dictionary.com, introversion is “the state of being concerned primarily with one’s own thoughts and feelings rather than with the external environment.”

Introverts tend to prefer time to themselves to think about their personal issues and beliefs, but in no way does that imply seclusion from the external environment. Introverts maintain a mixture between being with a select group of friends and spending time alone. The definition that psychology and society have created for us needs to change. Otherwise those who learn that they are introverted could be negatively impacted by the idea that social events are not something they can balance with solitude. Therefore, does extroversion as a child matter as people grow older? Success in life does not mean constant expression of thoughts and emotions. Listening, maintaining a small group of colleagues or friends, and developing skills to communicate on a small-scale, personal level are also very important in the professional world. It is time that we, as a world, choose to break these stereotypes and welcome a new form of leadership. The real question is: when will this break occur?