The Introvert Experience

by Sophie Carey

in·tro·vert

/ˈintrəˌvərt/

noun

1.

a shy, reticent person.

 

When you think of the word introvert, what comes to mind? Someone who stays inside all day, someone who prefers to be alone rather than with company? Someone who isn’t interested in many outings or public opportunities? While that may represent some people, that is certainly not the case for every introvert.

I have been told countless times throughout my years at Hathaway Brown about how I need to speak out more. Every teacher I’ve ever had has commented on my shyness. “I encourage her to use her voice more often,” or, “She needs to learn to step outside of her comfort zone.” And I understand that I am expected to participate to my full capabilities. And I know that in order to go far in life, I’m going to have to branch out and grow accustomed to constant interaction.

But what I can’t stand is when someone speaks to me as if it would be easy. I believe that because those people might not experience the same fears and anxieties as I do, that they might not fully understand what I go through. So they make judgments on what they think would be okay for me, without really knowing. It’s not that I don’t care for these kinds of things.

I want to go out and experience the world, and I do.

I want to make new friends and connections, and I doIt’s just hard. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be social. You don’t have to be an extrovert to get up and perform in front of crowds. I have grown very tired of trying to explain why I can’t do something so small and insignificant to be met with someone sneering “coward,” or “wimp,” even if it’s in a joking manner. What makes it worse, is that sometimes being an introvert is what stops me from being able to help others understand, seeing as I’m not good at expressing my concerns with others. This world was evidently not designed for introverts.

Colleges have admitted to a bias towards extroverts. And I don’t mean just people who have gone out and made connections and participated in programs and organizations outside of school, because introverts can do those to.

If you placed two students side by side, who had done the same amount of extracurricular and outside activities, their social nature would still prove to be a deciding factor. Something like this can be discouraging to introverts like me, knowing that we’d have to step a little further out of our comfort zones just to be fairly judged.

Nonetheless, I believe that I will continue to become a more open and less nervous wreck whenever I have to do anything in public or in front of others. Sometimes, we  introverts really do need a little push. Just remember, we may have boundaries that a social butterfly would never think of having.