As the dictionary defines it, “a shy, reticent person, a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than external things.” The word described is introvert, but to me, It’s who I am.
There are two main types of personality: introversion and extroversion. The difference between the two is that introverts gain energy from spending time alone, while extroverts gain energy from spending time with other people. To make it even clearer, being an introvert is the living embodiment of wanting to spend time with people but also secretly wishing they cancel because you were really hoping to spend some time alone.
I’ve always viewed my introversion as a gift. It has allowed me to be a better listener, to be a master observer, and to be deeply analytical. Society disagrees with me. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed throughout my life, it’s that the push for group work, the push to speak out, or the push to become the most outspoken, confident leader anyone has ever seen, has become undeniably prevalent.
I’ve never been a fan of project based learning. Group work tends to mean one person doing 80% of the work and everyone else doing the very minimum. And how are we supposed to “learn from each other” when no one knows the material to begin with? Personally, my biggest struggle comes with making my voice heard.
I’m often put into groups with people I’m not close with, and due to my quiet nature, putting my ideas out there is my personal Hell. I’m always stuck in my head over analyzing situations and raising questions with myself like what if they tell me it’s the stupidest thing they ever heard, or what if they ignore me?
Speaking out in social situations with people I’m not familiar with terrifies me, and yet that is all I’m confronted with when I walk into my classes. I can confidently say that talking in front of people has not conquered my fear, but has only made me dread school more. Presentations on top of presentations, group project after group project, hiding behind the person in front of me so the teacher won’t see me. It’s all a part of a never ending cycle of forcing me to become more outgoing and confident in front of others.
The philosophy behind the push for teamwork is that it mirrors what life will be like in the workforce. It’s true big name corporations are also heavily pushing collaboration, but at what cost? We’re losing the ability to work alone and before we know it we’re all going to be so dependent on working with each other that individual creation is going to become extinct.
Society praises extroverts due to their social skills, but often fail to recognize that introverts have their own strengths. Did you know some of the world’s highest praised creations were all created by a team of one? The printing press, an innovation created in the 15th century that completely revolutionized the world, was invented by a single individual. The light bulb, something the majority of the world uses, was pioneered by one person. Even Harry Potter, a beloved series, was written in solitary. Individual creation has a long track list of proving to the world it’s just as capable of providing hard hitting results as group work, yet it still gets pushed to the side.
I’m proud of the person I am. I wouldn’t change my introversion for the world. I will always stand by my introversion as my greatest strength although I am taught it’s defining qualities are my greatest weaknesses. Being an introvert in an extroverted world can be difficult, but it is the most rewarding experience I will ever have.
by Mariana Warcholski, editor