Stephen Hawking once said, "quiet people have the loudest minds."
I would add that quiet people also have the most remarkable minds.
We do not exist to be seen, heard or accepted by everyone around us. But at the very least, we have a multitude of thoughts we keep locked away in our heads.
Society can attribute much of its success to the work of introverts, such as Sir Isaac Newton (theory of gravity), JK Rowling (the "Harry Potter" series), Frédéric Chopin (composer), Dr. Seuss and Larry Page (cofounder of everyone’s best friend, Google).
Despite the fact that major contributions to society have come from introverts, it is nearly impossible to find a news source, website or book that doesn’t focus on building up one’s personality and social appeal.
Our society, simply put, prefers extroversion over introversion.
Society’s preference for performance and personality over character and honor has only been a priority, since the turn of the 20th century.
According to Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking,” self-help manuals and guides began shifting from using words such as citizenship, reputation, morals, manners and integrity to using words like fascinating, stunning, dominant, energetic and glowing.
This focus on personality over character remains true today, and for introverted people like myself, this can be quite the curse.
I don’t mind being social. I can be quite outgoing, but extroversion is far from who I am.
I love people: to work with them, learn about them or invite them over for dinner.
But I have no problem choosing my journals or a book over a human-being on a Friday night.
People literally exhaust me.
I don’t seek to please others, or find my identity in them, but I believe that’s okay. Perhaps being an introvert doesn’t have to be seen as such a negative thing.
This unfortunate, exhausting dance we do to impress people or obsess with performance brings me back to my college sociology classes.
George Herbert Mead’s theory of self, known as the “I” and “Me,” made me all types of confused.
This is mainly because I came to the conclusion I do not have to define who “I” am based on how others see “me.” That’s a sick way to live.
I think if a human outside yourself plays a role in defining who you are, you are already oppressed, and you may not even realize it. Your life isn’t meant to be a performance for other people.
You’ll drive yourself crazy.
I doubt JK Rowling wrote her hit series because she knew bits of Portuguese culture and a school for wizards would send her many literary admirers.
I doubt Larry Page knew Google would become a household name all over the world.
I doubt Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) knew making up words and pairing them with fictitious creatures would become a part of just about every child’s literary memory.
These introverts, along with countless others and despite being at the bottom of society’s totem pole, did what they love and have forever left their imprint on our lives.
As Audre Lorde once said:
If I didn’t define myself for myself, I’d be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.
To my fellow introverts: Will you let society continue to define who you are because you’d rather observe, remain in the background and spend time with yourself?
If you possess character, integrity and a genuine desire to impact the world around you, you will come to realize you do not have to be at the center of attention to make a difference.