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Growing Up as an Introvert


boy reading a book Thin-skinned extroverts probably should not read this article. I tried to write it without slamming extroverts, but I couldn't. I have to tell the ugly truth in order to penetrate the heads of the extroverts who need to have everything clearly spelled out for them. So, this will sound like a rant, because it is.

The truth is that extroverts do not understand introverts. They don't make an effort to do so, because they don't see the need. After all, their reasoning goes, anyone different than they are must be inferior in some way, in some major way. I'm not projecting my thoughts into their heads. I'm telling you what they've told me over the years. Because, after all, extroverts are the way everyone should aspire to be--shallow, thoughtless, and ill-informed. It doesn't matter that extroverts can't sit still and think long enough to decide what is wrong with being different. The mere fact that introverts are different means they are inferior. I am aware that extroverts may try to use my own words against me by claiming they prove that I'm the same way. But they don't apply, because I understand extroverts much better than they on average understand or want to understand introverts. I have had to figure out extroverts, because this is an extrovert's world. If you don't understand extroverts, you have a rough time getting anywhere. Besides, extroverts are not usually shy about making their points of view heard, no matter how irrational their thinking may be. But, apparently, in our extroverted world just knowing what you're talking about while not supporting the views of the majority (the majority of extroverts, that is) is enough of a sin to get you branded as "opinionated". Well, of course, knowledge would be seen as an anti-social characteristic in a world filled with extroverts who don't know anything about anything, some of whom even seem to pride themselves on their ignorance, in a world filled with people who object if you write a sentence with more than seventeen words, because they may have to strain their brains to understand what you're talking about. That sentence was 67 words long, so you may shoot me now.

As a child, I was not only an introvert, I was a shy introvert. I was probably shy because every time I turned around someone was harassing me about something. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that all around me, well-meaning extroverted adults reacted to me like sharks to chum. They constantly urged me to come "out of my shell". I hate that phrase. I was not in a shell. I was displaying my normal and natural personality for anyone who was perceptive enough to see. Extroverted adults harassed me about participating in school plays, contact sports, dances, speaking in church, or speaking to audiences of any type, anything they could think of to make me miserable, "for my own good", of course. It seemed that anything they could dream up to torture me, to make me fit their borgian ideals, they did. When I was a child, most extroverted adults had memorized a vague definition for the word "introvert", but they didn't understand it. Because, you see, in order to understand something, you have to do some thinking, and extroverts are not inclined to think. Because, people who think about things, and thus understand things, are nerds, dweebs, geeks, and bookworms. What extroverts don't realize is that without these nerds, dweebs, geeks, and bookworms, everyone else would still be hitting each other over the heads with clubs and running from saber-toothed tigers.

Now that I've made my point to the extroverts, I'll address my fellow introverts. They've told us our entire lives that we are inferior. We are not well socialized. We are not socially "mature". We don't understand how to relate to other people. Well, the truth is that studies have shown that there is nothing "wrong" with us.

In 2012, a Harvard University researcher discovered that the pre-frontal cortices of introverts tend to have thicker gray matter than those of extroverts--indicating more of a tendency to think before reaching a decision.

Scientist now know that, although introverts are not smarter than extroverts, they process more information in any given situation. Introverts have higher levels of activity in areas of their brains that correspond to remembering, planning, decision making, problem solving, and inner dialogue.

Another study showed that extroverted leaders are better than introverted ones when employees are looking for direction but worse when employees are inner-driven and proactive.

Yet another study showed that, unlike extroverts, introverts are not afraid of being alone and choose that over being with someone who does not make them happy.

The bottom line is that, as introverts, we don't need to live up to the expectations of extroverts. Nothing is wrong with being the way we are. It's okay to enjoy reflection and solitude. It's okay to think before we speak. It's okay to have a handful of deep relationships, instead of a thousand shallow ones. It's okay to be annoyed by extroverts. And, it's okay to avoid them when we feel like it.



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