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An Introvert Speaks Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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Ever since grade school, I have tried to hide my introversion. I forced myself out of my comfort zone time and time again by attending large parties and joining in conversions I had no interest in. However, my efforts proved futile; they drained me of energy and left me confused about my identity, and my peers still called me quiet, some even referencing my apparent aversion to socializing. As I approached my junior year of high school, I contemplated introversion and how it is perceived and treated by society. Eventually, I realized that extroverts and ambiverts (those with characteristics of both introverts and extroverts) often view introverts as individuals who are constantly holding themselves back; however, I believe that if anything hinders introverts from leading productive and healthy lives it is living in a society that is designed for extroversion.

Many people lump introversion and shyness into one category, even though there is a huge distinction between these traits. True, both an introvert and a shy person may be sitting at home on Saturday night. However, the shy person may not prefer to be there, while the introvert feels more energized alone. He or she actually prefers reading a book instead of fist pumping to house music at a kegger. A shy individual, on the other hand, might want to be at that party but is simply too timid or afraid.

Introverts are not antisocial hermits who dread interacting with others. The vast majority of introverts are caring, compassionate individuals who enjoy the company of others. They simply do not need a lot of interaction and stimulation in order to feel entertained or energized. In fact, too much stimulation may be draining. This is why you will often see an introvert peacefully sitting in that nook in the corner, reading a novel or listening to music.

While many introverts enjoy solitary activities such as reading and writing, extroverts may view these hobbies as boring, unhealthy, and constraining. This is where the pity and skepticism come in. Extroverts thrive in the typical American classroom. Outgoing students often carry class discussions, dominate during group work, excel at presentations in front of a group, and receive the most attention from the teacher. However, this type of environment is not optimal for everyone.

As socialization is becoming increasingly valued in education, introverts are often left in the dust, with their indifferent classmates looking back at them to offer advice: “You are getting in your own way.” While they may have the best of intentions, their information can be misinterpreted and lead an introvert to lose confidence and become shy.

So, how can we fix this problem? How can we make introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts all feel welcome and comfortable? To begin, students should be given the freedom to choose how they want to complete their work. Class discussion should not be monopolized by the first student to shout out a comment. Instead, coursework should also involve small group discussions and class blogs.

The bias toward extroversion for success in school and admission to college is growing. There is a belief in society that outspoken individuals make more successful leaders, while introverts do not display leadership qualities. This bias is incorrect and only makes introverts feel marginalized.

I propose a change in our thoughts on introversion. A person who is sitting in silence is not necessarily angry. She is not sad. He is not afraid of social interaction. This individual is not a future serial killer and does not turn into a werewolf at night. This person is probably an introvert.

We must, as a society, abandon our habit of labeling this person as the school's Boo Radley, and instead strike up a conversation with him or her. Who knows – you may be surprised to find out that this seemingly shy, antisocial individual is actually a warm and friendly person. You might even make a new friend.

As I approach the end to my high school career, I am confident in my reticence. If I decide to spend my lunch hour inside reading, I will not fret over passersby who may or may not think I am socially inept. Instead, I will continue to quietly chew my apple, listen to the Beatles' White album on my iPod, and enjoy my book. When I am at a party and have the urge to go home early, I will not take offense at my friends' playful heckling and shouts of “party-pooper.” Instead, I will go home and write pieces like the one you are reading now. Most importantly, now that I am no longer worried that I am violating the social order, I will have the energy and willingness to enjoy life's greatest moments and opportunities with peers who might be quiet, loud, jovial, sarcastic, cerebral, or charismatic, but are all true to themselves and accepting of others.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the December 2012 Teen Ink EBSCO POV Contest.

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Luckystar78This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 12, 2016 at 12:08 am
Thank you so much for this piece; it is truly beautiful and inspiring. It is so reassuring to hear from somebody who understands the frustration the introvert feels in the face of an extroverted, hostile and ignorant world.
andrea_upnorth said...
Apr. 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm
Sophie--Thanks for sharing your thoughts on behalf on others who feel like you do including my own teen daughter. I don't necessarily agree that society or the educational system is pushing the extrovert agenda even more than in the past. I think the fact that Susan Cain has written "The Quiet Revolution" and that it has been so successful holds some hope that there is more recognition and awareness of the different ways that people function.
JanL said...
Apr. 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm
How I wish I had had your insight and wisdom when I was struggled as an introvert in high school! You have got it figured out. I have had so many people make remarks to me such as, "You need to learn how to enjoy yourself." What they cannot understand is that I am enjoying myself, sitting alone quietly and reading a book or, just sitting and staring off into space if I so choose. I LIVE to have times when I can sit quietly alone and do whatever I want to do. It is so great to find this webs... (more »)
rheame said...
Jul. 28, 2013 at 4:47 am
wow a really different thought
lacee.828 said...
Jun. 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm
I read this in the Teen Ink magazine, and this is like a mindblowing peice for me to read! I always thought there was something wrong with me because I don't like taking part in conversations about the latest trends, or wanted to attend crazy parties and kill off all my brain cells in the name of "having a good time"; but I'm just an introvert. It's good to know I'm not alone :)
ImErinSurvivor said...
Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm
I can really relate to your poem XD I have been called a 'anti social person" by a grown up. Being alone and just reading and writing or listening to music doesn't mean that you don't like the world. it just means that you want to be alone and read and writing and/or listen to music. people can be so judgemental :(
patricia216 said...
Feb. 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm
I really liked this article. I especially like the last pargraph where you talked about how you can feel comfortable with being alone and not care what other think of.
acnewmscvix said...
Dec. 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Such a perfect, applicable post.
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