The Plight of Introverts in an Extroverted World

Originally posted on

Introverts get a bad rap in our society. Everything from hiring to relationships seems set up for extroverted personalities. These are often the people who become big shot politicians or movie stars. If you walk through a grade school, chances are you’ll find tons of motivational posters urging students to express themselves and be creative. While there’s nothing wrong with that kind of motivation, I can’t help but wonder if introverts are undeserving treated like they are less than worthy.

The dictionary defines introvert as a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings. I found other sites around the web describing introverts as shy or self-centered. I’d bet most people would see those definitions and assume introverts aren’t any fun. In fact, some may even assume they’d be rude.

If you happen to know a few introverted people, you’ll know they’re not terrible people who only care for themselves. Just like anyone else, they crave a certain amount of socialization and self-expression.

I’ve known a number of introverted people in my life. Like any group of people, there are some sour apples. For the most part, though, they have been some of the kindest people. They just happen to communicate a little bit differently and take a bit longer to open up.

Most of my friends and high school and college were extroverts. We’d talk about every personal thing you can think of, from the intimate to the disgusting. These were the kinds of conversations I was used to having within the first week or two of meeting people. Then I met the man who would become the boyfriend I have today. He was my first experience getting to know an introvert.

There was an obvious attraction right off the bat, but I thought some things were odd. Why didn’t he want to talk about his previous sexual experiences? Why was he hesitant to share certain details of his childhood? Up until that point, I assumed all people would be forthcoming about their whole lives unless they had something to hide.  For a while, I thought this would be the thing that ended our relationship. My extroverted friends agreed that his unwillingness to speak on certain subjects was odd.

Eventually, I would find he was hesitant to tell me certain things due to the pain or embarrassment of the memory. The reality I eventually came to realize was that I was the rude one. What kind of person expects people to answer all those questions within even the first few months of knowing each other? This man wasn’t the willing subject of my latest journalism project. He had a right to keep whatever personal aspects of his life private until he felt he could trust me.

This photo, “Introverts and Social Media” is copyright (c) 2014 Leigh Blackall and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Since those experiences early in college, I have discovered that introverted people get the raw end of the stick more often than not. They have difficulties making friends, finding jobs and establishing relationships. I have spoken to people who express their disinterest in hiring certain candidates because they didn’t seem excited enough and, unfortunately, I have judged people in the past as being uninterested in friendship because they didn’t engage in conversations as much as my other friends.

I wonder if the world has always favored extroverts or if something about our fast paced society has generated this preference. Certainly introverts deserve just as much love, respect and opportunities as extroverts. Too often, though, they are made to feel bad for their differences.

My boyfriend has expressed sorrow at his inability to open up to people as fast as I can. Other introverted people I have met throughout my life have had similar thoughts. It’s such a shame because they have just as much to offer the world. Society needs diversity. Just as extroverts serve a purpose, so do introverts. In fact, introverts are perfect for some of the most critical jobs out there.

Celebrities might get all the attention, but introverts are perfect for editing the videos and films that make those celebrities famous. Extroverts may be rampant on social media with hundred of friends, but introverts make the best social media managers, working behind the scenes for big business social media accounts.

This photo, “Schmooze Bloggers (DBAs) 6 Year Olds” is copyright (c) 2014 ProgrammerHell and made available under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

No one should feel inadequate just for being who they are. I worry introverts are being made to feel left out when they don’t have to be. On the superficial surface of our society, extroverts seem to have it all. They are in the limelight, often providing advice of how others can achieve the same success. However, introverts serve crucial roles as well. They can be just as successful using their introverted means and be just as important.

Are you introverted or extroverted? What do you think people tend to misunderstand about introverts? What sort of jobs would you imagine introverts being perfect for? Have you ever worried about a friend or family member because they didn’t seem extroverted enough? What advice would you give someone trying to get to know or open up an extroverted person?

Curious about career options for introverts? Forbes has a list of the 10 jobs introverts are most likely to enjoy.


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