Believe it or not, introverts and introversion itself used to be something people prized and cherished. Introversion was something to be looked at with pride, not with contempt. It was not something that was believed necessary to avoid at all costs — not like it is today.
Now most people view those that prefer to keep to themselves, that prefer to spend more time exploring the vast chasms of their own psyche and imagination, as people who are cold and who try avoiding social interaction. The truth is that most introverts don’t avoid the social scene on purpose; they simply feel more comfortable living with their focus turned inward than outward.
There are many pros to introversion that most people in our current time and society overlook entirely. Hundreds of years ago introverts were those who were looked up to. They were sought after for advice and for guidance. With the age of information comes informational overload. Those who don’t join in in the ruckus are viewed as wanting to remain outsiders and therefore are treated as such.
Extroversion has become our society’s goal. Looking at the way that different things are organized, one can easily notice how the focus of our culture has shifted away from the introversion paradigm and towards extroversion. Classrooms are no longer organized in the manner that they once were.
Growing up, classrooms were organized in such a way to deter students from mingling and instead focused on developing the students’ individual skills. You would sit at your desk facing the front of the room, listen, take notes and generally only interact with the teacher.
When you were given assignments it would be assignments that you would work on alone and hand in with only your name on them. This all started to change over the years and the emphasis in classrooms quickly switched to working on group efforts. The belief was that in order to get the students ready for the work force, they would need to develop their social skills and learn how to work together — this of course being an important skill to sharpen.
The same can be said for the working world alike. People went from working by their lonesome in a cubicle to working at a communal desk. Offices are now emphasizing the importance of sharing ideas and ‘putting heads together’ to come up with better, more efficient ways of going about things.
Hence cultivating an environment that allows extroverts to flourish and causes introverts to crawl deeper into their caverns of isolation. It’s true: in order to make it in today’s world, you need to have a bit of extrovertedness in you. But this is not a new concept — this was always true.
No matter what category you place yourself in, no matter how great your ideas, unless you make them known, no one will ever know about them. This is why we all ought to focus our energy on becoming what has been dubbed as ambiverts.
Ambiverts are people that are somewhere in the middle of the intro/extrovert spectrum. In reality, no person is completely an introvert and no person is exclusively an extrovert — we are all a mix of the two. The key is to find ourselves with a somewhat even balance, becoming the best of both worlds. No person can be successful solely relying on either part.
Extroverts are great at talking, interacting with people and becoming seen and remembered. They know how to network, know how to make the right friends and know how to enjoy themselves. You know that you are extroverted when you prefer to be surrounded by people, chatting, talking, partying or whatever than kicking it solo.
Extroverts are great at the presentation; they know how to present themselves and they know how to sell whatever it is that they are selling. Introverts are the exact opposite. Those who believe themselves to be introverted prefer spending time alone.
They prefer reading and taking in all they can from the outside world — everything not involving other people. Introverts are the thinkers of our world; because they spend so little time interacting and talking to others, they basically rely on themselves for entertainment.
Our culture has overlooked this truth of vital importance: thought requires focus — focus that gets lost when we avoid introversion. The greatest thinkers of all time spent their lives alone, working on mastering both their trade and themselves.
In today’s world — a world that is much smaller — there is much more competition. We no longer can remain the introverts that were once so cherished. At the same time, however, simply being an extrovert won’t do you any good either.
It’s great if you can network and sell — but what are you selling? You need to have an idea to market and it has to be a very good one in order to bring you success. Imagine the progress that would be made if we were all keen on getting some privacy in order to think and plan...and then come into a group of others doing the same in order to share our findings.
I myself am naturally more introverted, and for this reason, have been spending a lot of time focusing on my social skills and forcing myself to interact with others when in reality I would prefer to simply observe. Unfortunately — or rather fortunately — I cannot continue to rely on my introverted ways alone.
Not if I want to be successful in a world that puts extroversion on a pedestal — I now acknowledge the fact that ambivertedness is crucial. As all else in life, balance is key. But…if I had to pick one or the other, I would stick to introvertedness — but then again, I’m probably just biased.
Paul Hudson | Elite.
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