Introversion is a word that’s often used to express a variety of behaviors, whether it’s social reticence or a preference towards more intimate direct conversations, relations or smaller circles, but the one that I feel is most expressive is that while extroverts get more energized by social interaction, introverts get drained by it. Like many of my fellow introverted friends and acquaintances, accepting and dealing with my introversion in a constructive way has been anything but an easy or low-labor journey. My childhood memories of being thought of as “weird” or “different” or “a loner”, are still as clear as they are muddled through the filters of nostalgia, descriptions I’ve received simply because I preferred playing Atari with my best friend over having a soccer match with the kids I’ve never met before. These descriptions persisted up to my adolescent years, descriptions which would consequently cause feelings of shame, isolation, and inferiority over these characteristics, characteristics that were as intrinsic and uncontrollable to me as was anyone’s left-handedness, right-handedness, height or depth of voice.
Being the competitive person that I am and having been fortunate to grow up in a relatively supportive and nurturing environment, I had been given the knowledge that there was a certain set of characteristics and expectations I would have to meet if I were to get ahead in life (what getting ahead exactly meant in that contexts, or what it exactly means is still a mystery to me). As a result, for the longest time I could remember, I’ve had this fixation on gaining the behaviors and simulating the attributes of my more extroverted peers, whether it’s going out for coffee when I’d rather enjoy a cup of vervain in my bed, or being the first to start the group presentation when I would quite frankly prefer to pass a paper exam.
Of course, after having gone through the great transition of coming to the university, my desire and my effort to simulate such behaviors and to find the social success and acceptance that my peers have gathered, as well as gather the famous/infamous soft skills that every employer require having only increased. And for better or worse, my efforts have been successful as far as getting more involved with clubs and NGOs, pushing me towards becoming a better public speaker, a better mediator and team player on a smaller scale ( I’ll spare you the use of the world leader because of A/ The little value of a word that’s been so used and misused and B/ Because of how cringy it has simply become).
But amid it all, I’ve failed to realize how much of a toll all these attempts and all these activities were taking on me. The “Why are you so alone all the time?” questions were replaced with the “Why are you so tired are all the time?”, “How do you remember so many of the things and information that you’ve read?” turned into “How are you so forgetful of people’s faces and names?”, and many other remarks that grossly oversimplify the situation have followed.
Having been fortunate enough to experience an exchange year in the US and being in a more introverted society, it has been a sort of personal wake up call. While I was at first annoyed at the lesser number of students at DSU, North Dakota, I must admit that it was very refreshing. Gone were the obligations and the FOMO (Fear of missing out) that were engendered by the bigger number of students and activities and clubs, gone was the necessity to try and speak louder over everyone else or even interrupt their words if I ever wanted to be heard. While my adjustment was anything but easy itself, the newly gained freedom from the competition and the self-put obligation to perform and be perceived as extroverted and sociable had been life-changing; Perhaps one of the most obvious things that I never realized I would miss as I was reintegrating back at INSAT was that. Something that I haven’t given much conscious thought to until the very moment I started typing this article.
So, is my point here to simply vent and move on? Partially, but an important fact, or at least personal opinion, that I would like to share is that you don’t have to be an extrovert to succeed. It is not necessary to know everyone, be known by everyone, attend every social event there is or be active in every club/organization out there and build your network (the only expression that I find as vomit-inducing as leader) to be able to succeed or prove yourself in life.
While one of my personal decisions after going on TJSP was to take some time off to rediscover and maybe rebuild my own personal world that I have neglected with so much focus on the external world, I had still managed to get to know some very interesting people and live some amazing experiences, whether it’s volunteering at best friends ND which has been heart-warming and perspective changing for me, or getting to know professionals and professors from all over the U.S. or in my university who specialized in a variety of fields, people whose input and opinion I value and consider, and all these opportunities were not hindered by my introversion, if anything they were encouraged by my ability to concentrate my energy on these few relationships whether they were with friends or professionals or fellow NGO workers as well as the added value I would put on such relationships.
However, INSAT being such a larger school and my ways of coming back to old habits, as well as some other personal setbacks, I’ve found myself yet again quickly burning out and trying to assume all these characteristics and attributes that were anything but first nature to me. Part of it is that I pride myself in investing in my friendships and close relationships and giving them their part of attention and energy, especially those friends who had been there for me on multiple occasions, and the other part is my desire to build new friendships and relationships which will help me continue the years I have left in INSAT as well as the years to come, and maybe it’s picking the ones to invest in, especially with such a large number of people each of which has such a distinctive story and personality to offer, becomes easier said than done.
But I’ve recently found myself reminded of some of the lessons that North Dakota has taught me about the advantages of introversion on a social level, as well as on a personal and professional level, after all the type of focus that introversion has to offer is not only qualitative focus on relationships, but it’s also a focus on other parts of life that don’t necessarily involve interaction and communication. As much as group work and group projects and collaboration, there are still many tasks to be done that don’t necessarily require or involve such collaboration or are even hindered by it. After all, the productivity of a company is inversely correlated to the number of meetings that it plans.
All this isn’t to say that an introvert shouldn’t work on their public speaking or group work or run of the mill social skills, after all, many of the experiences and skills I’ve gained by assuming extravert like characteristics are priceless, this is to say that we as introverts shouldn’t forget who we are and what we’re comfortable with. Assuming characteristics that are not inherent to us isn’t only very tiring and taxing in the long run, it can become a self-effacing practice that can distract us from taking care of our own internal worlds and wellbeing.
While many personal-development (the new age term for life coach) would tell you to always push yourself to the limits and get out of your comfort zone, I think your comfort zone exists for a reason, it’s good to challenge yourself and experience new things, but you owe it to yourself to be who you are and what you were meant to be and to accept characteristics and things about oneself which society may deem less than favorable, and this extends beyond the issue of introversion and extraversion in my eyes. I think all of us growing up in this culture and generation (and any culture really) can relate to the fact of negatively being different from the norm in some way, whether it’s something as insignificant as your preference towards metal music and one’s minority philosophical and religious views and beliefs, we owe it to ourselves to say f*** society ( for the lack of a more expressive term) and live our lives on our own terms.
Going back to the article’s title, the reason I’m wearing my headphones more often is that. Plus, I’m completely addicted to Frank Ocean’s Blond album and can’t stop listening to it, especially with the good sound quality that that pair of headphones offers. On a more serious note, as an introvert, I recharge through social breaks and a small way of finding that quietness and that momentary isolation has been my headphones. The idea of unlimited instant interconnectivity can be quite stressful at times, especially with the added stress of school and other obligations, and a good way I’ve found to disconnect was to wear my oversized headphones when I wasn’t communicating with people, something that has been surprisingly stress-alleviating for me.
So yes, if you see me or other introverts wearing headphones at a study hall full of people or abandoning our Facebooks and Instagrams on a trip or event, know that we simply have a different approach to things or we are just taking our time off, we’d love to talk though as long as you approach kindly, and offer us food, extraverts would appreciate that as well.
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What is it like to have an ideal life? Am I going to be better than that specific person one day? Are my sacrifices and hard-work enough to upgrade my current self and make it a better human? Will it be enough? Am I going to be satisfied one day? Is that even possible? Or it is just an illusion?
We have been told that the human mind is one of the most persistent forces on earth, yet nobody ever talks about the fact that that force can easily be manipulated, played with, and shaped into a box of socially-constructed structures.
Our desires, ambitions, dreams, the creation of our personality, and our psyche have become the threads that urge our “marionettes”.
The subtle hand of power that is making humans convicts of its social prototype, people have become symbolically blind. Let’s take the example of the process of Americanization, more specifically the American dream. We have reached a level of absent-mindedness in a way we started to omit the idea that truth is relative. We have been propagandized to think that our dreams and ambitions should strictly follow those of the mainstream society, which is a technique used to boost the nationalist economy, first, and then, to clone human beings.
In other words, every individual is a seeker of an abstraction, which by consequence will become his requested dream, not by choice, but by the repressive power of the illusionist society.
Henceforth, if we dig deeper into the essence of our lives, the way we perceive happiness, we will be astonished by the fact that all that we have been presuming is a phantasm, a mirage-like concept.
Thus, being thirsty for that happiness, an ideal life mislead us in the maze of “falsehood”, which is spawned by the power of the non-existent powerful.
Going back in time, philosophers discussed the notion of power as being the engine that turns the wheel of life. For instance, Nietzsche spoke about this “insatiable desire to manifest power”, as being the core of our life experience.
Hence, the “will to power “can be justified as being a natural instinct of the human race, which explains the infinite chain of power-exercising process.
In fact, this mechanism of purchasing power made us unconscious followers of a theoretical perfection.
Moreover, to gain the ultimate power, and that feeling of condescension, human beings started to re-shape their personalities, and reformulate their ethics and life principles in order to appeal to the society, and the other “superior” groups. We started to valorize and intensify other’s power, supposing that it will win us the motivation to look alike, and become that updated version of our primitive selves. However, ones should get a glimpse of how this “chain of power” works.
Accordingly, every individual is a claimant of “power” which he inherits from another stronger individual, which the latter, consequently, receipts from the very-powerful above all, which is a devoid concept created by the human mind to promote the feeling of pride and determination, and the more these feelings are intensified the more the sensation of dissatisfaction is sharpened.
In other words, the notion of idealism does not exist, because it is an act pressured by an omnipotent human force to guide us to think that the idealistic life is a presupposed assumption, or it may be also considered as one of the grand narratives.
As follows, human beings are never satisfied with what they own, we always try to fulfill our desires to experience a “Utopian” lifestyle, by imitating a “living exemplar” that we see as superior to us.
that specific person I mentioned at the start, whom we perceive as more mighty than us, is implicitly, and unconsciously controlling our perception of Idealism, thus, by doing so, our aims in life became to exceed the level of that person, and compete with him to have a better life,
And This is not the real life we seek.
For instance, once upon a time, we all had an objective or a goal that we were eager to achieve, yet once we reached that intention, the strong desire for that subject fled away. Did you ever ask yourselves why?
Well, simply because that was not our genuine choice, it is that power of whom we regard as powerful, who defined our dreams and ambitions as our legitimate request.
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