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Introvert or extrovert? Talkative people and quieter people can learn a lot from each other.

Where would you put yourself on the introvert/ extrovert spectrum? Are you someone who enjoys more time alone and finds too much time in a crowd tiring? Or do you seek out a lot of social time, and find time alone challenging? Of course, there's a lot of wiggle room in between. Most people aren't either/or, but are more often some mix of the two.

I identify as an introvert/ambivert. An ambivert is someone who is smack in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Which one do I identify more with? That depends on the day.

There may be times when I feel a need or want to socialize. In general, I enjoy being in the presence of other humans, but that doesn't mean I want to talk to them.

Sometimes when I'm with a group of people, all I want to do is sit in a room or on a rock, by myself, and think. Sometimes I like sitting with someone else and not talking, as long as the silence isn't awkward. I like my introversion--like many introverts, I'm happy by myself or with a small group of close friends. I'm content with not talking a lot, but I have a lot to say in a group I trust.

But while I'm great with introverts, I think our culture is biased toward extroverts. For example, I was frustrated by what happened at a recent school assembly. The principal gave awards to kids who he thought "really were themselves, through and through, no matter what." Great idea, but when the kids he called came up to the podium, something looked weird. While the choices he made were decent, I could think of innumerable replacements. Why weren't they up there instead?

Then I realized why. Every single child standing on that podium was an extrovert. Absurd. I could think of my best friend, who, although not super-social, is full to the brim with self-confidence. She's the shortest person in our grade, and dances down hallways singing Broadway tunes and/or reading a book. Everyone in our grade thinks she's insane. She knows it. She couldn't care less. No one deserved that award more than she did, but she was not a recipient.

I don't believe that the principal did this on purpose; it was probably because he knew the extroverts. But if he was aware of this, he would find that the "silent ones" would have just as much, often more, to say.

It's not just my principal. Unfortunately, we live in a society that tends to favor extroverts. I love extroverts. I think they're awesome. But the world revolves around us just as much, too. Society tends to favor people who are more outgoing, while characterizing introverts as people who struggle to have successful social interactions. Introverts can be labeled as rude, depressed, shy, or arrogant--just because we're not often as talkative.

Introverts can be very successful at all sorts of things because they give themselves time to think and figure out what to do. Introverts need space to grow, and if they are given this, they will be able to shine. How do you identify? Whatever it is, be sure not to stereotype or avoid others who aren't like you. Give everyone a chance to be the way she is, and enjoy all the variety!

Find Your Quiet Power

If you think you're introverted, you're not at all alone. One-third to a half of the population are introverts, says Susan Cain, author of the awesome Quiet Power: The Secret Power of Introverts, a book for tween and teens.

Yet quiet people often feel that extroverts--the ones who talk the most in class and are outgoing and popular--are seen as better. That's why Susan, an introvert as a kid and now, wrote Quiet Power, as well as her adult book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. She also helps parents, schools, and businesses appreciate and utilize introvert power.

Introverts have lots of strengths, she says, especially the ability to focus deeply on topics and activities, and a talent for listening with empathy and patience. When introverts use their abilities to discover and pursue passions, they thrive--even in the extrovert-prizing places like school.

Start now by reminding yourself that seeking quiet time and not talking a ton is normal and useful. Tell friends and teachers you're introverted, so they don't assume you're "antisocial" or don't have anything to say. Practice speaking skills--feeling comfortable expressing yourself is also a useful skill. As introvert Eleanor Roosevelt advised, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

Consider suggesting to a teacher or principal that they use tactics that help both introverts and extroverts. More teachers are asking all students to wait a minute before answering, so introverts get more of a chance and extroverts ponder answers more thoroughly. Some teachers have students jot down thoughts instead of racing to blurt them out. Then students take turns reading them.

Feel proud of your introversion I The world is better because of many, many introverts such as Rosa Parks and Gandhi. Plenty of introverts speak out about passions that motivate them to make change and express themselves. They also seek their quiet space--a good practice for all of us.

Introvert or Not?

Is this you? A lot, some, a little, or not at all? Try Susan's quiz.

--I prefer spending time with one or two friends instead of a group.

--I'd rather express my ideas in writing.

--I enjoy being alone.

--I prefer deep conversations to small talk.

--My friends tell me that I'm a good listener.

--I prefer small classes to large ones.

--I avoid conflicts.

--I don't like showing people my work until it's perfect.

--I work best on my own.

--I don't like being called on in class.

--I feel drained after hanging out with friends, even when I have fun.

--I spend a lot of time in my room.

--I'd rather celebrate my birthday with a few friends and family than have a huge party.

--I don't mind independent projects at school.

--I'm usually not a big risk-taker.

--I can dive into a project, practice a sport or instrument, or engage in something creative for hours at a time without getting bored.

--I tend to think before I speak.

--I'd rather text or e-mail than talk on the phone with someone I don't know very well.

--I don't feel totally comfortable being the center of attention.

--I usually like asking questions more than I like answering them.

--People often describe me as soft-spoken or shy.

--If I had to choose, I'd prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.

The more you agree, the more introverted you probably are. If just a few fit, you're likely more an extrovert. If you fall somewhere in between, you're probably an ambivert.
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Title Annotation:For the Curious
Author:Elbow, Marion
Publication:New Moon Girls
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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