I am sure many of us have taken those famous personality tests to figure out which personality type do we fit in to? In my second year of college, our psychology teacher had suggested us to take the very famous and as considered the most accurate personality test – The Myers and Briggs Personality Test. This intrigued me so I took the test as soon as I got home and my result was INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging). When I told one of my friends that I got this result, s/he very sympathetically told me that I was not an introvert. That really struck me to thinking why that person reacted that way, which led to a series of realizations. I will talk about the four major things I realized through that experience.
First of all, I realized how I had spent my whole life being conflicted and unacceptable towards my personality type. I grew up as an introvert. I did not like to speak too much. Social interactions were like punishment to me. I never learnt how to initiate a conversation until very recently and I enjoyed solitude more than I enjoyed being in a large group. However, until this time, I had not accepted that fact that I was this way. I always thought that something was wrong with me and I should change myself so that I would be a better fit in this society, so that I could have more friends. I found it weird that I liked reading books during school picnics and I had to practice what I was going to say before meeting someone new or talking on the phone. I was making myself miserable, desperately trying to become someone I am not by being friends with the chirpy lot of girls, being involved in everything I could only to find myself not interested in anything and so much more. But this was my moment of acceptance. When this friend of mine tried to sympathize with me on being an introvert, I realized how okay I am with it and how I am so glad I answered all those questions in the test truthfully.
After this realization, I started to ponder upon why it took me so long to accept who I am. Then there was my answer, the very famous reason to everything these days – ‘the society’. Have you ever noticed how the society treats an introverted person? Have you ever noticed how every culture or norms of the society is so perfectly created to make every introvert uncomfortable? Take our school systems for an example! If you participate in class, you get extra points. So all the smart, knowledgeable introverts get less score in class participation because they are quieter however analytical. In the last parent-teacher meeting in my college, the teacher had told my father that I am very reserved and I need to change that. Very furiously I asked her, “How can I change my personality? That is who I am, I am a reserved person.” She then told me to step outside my comfort zone. Do you think she asked any of the unreserved students or the extroverts to step outside of their comfort zone and be reserved? No! I was told that my personality was not appealing for her to give me a higher mark. When I was in fourth grade, I was teased in front of the whole class because I was a quiet person. I came home and cried that day because I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I was in fourth grade, it was absolutely impossible for me to understand. Now when I think of it, I realized that the society supports extroverts and it makes the introverts feel bad about themselves and makes them internalize the fact that they should change and they should become more like the extroverts.
This brings to my third realization – this is the world of extroverts. Everything that this world is based upon is the extroverted mentality. Let’s take the festivals that we celebrate for an example. I as an introvert do not enjoy get together of all my relatives in my home and me having to interact with all of them. Festivals are made in such a way that the extroverts enjoy them and the introverts awkward their way out of it. I grew up watching all those American high school teen flicks that portrayed that every school has basic five types of students, – the jocks, the prom queens, the geeks, the loners and the friendly. The jocks, the prom queens and the friendly ones were the popular ones while the geeks and the loners were the once who were constantly bullied. I always related the most to the geeks and the loners. So the thing the bugged me the most was how these movies never showed a confident introverted person, who stood up to bullying. This is one of the reasons I fell in love with the TV series named “Glee”. It debunked the entire system of how students should be, united the people of different groups together and showed real and relatable friendships (which I am yet to see in real life) and journeys of the characters. Most of all, it slammed bullying on the face. It showed that introverts are not the miserable, sad, friendless creatures with no opinions. It showed that introverts are powerful, creative, opinionated, intelligent and happy people who can raise their voice for themselves and for others. This is just that the world is shaped for extroverts.
Well I realized that the world favors extroverts. Then I started observing these personality differences in my friends. One of my biggest realizations was about confidence. I always thought a person who spoke a lot or had more friends was more confident than a quiet person. But I realized that it is completely wrong. I am a confident person but I am also an introvert. I am not afraid of talking to people and I am actually very comfortable in my own skin. All my life I was told that I am not confident enough because I don’t make many friends and I liked reading books and spending time alone, people were just manipulating me into thinking bad of myself. Introverts can be as confident as extroverts and even more sometimes. The notion that extroverts are equivalent to confidence should be broken down and flushed away. I am an introvert and I am a vocal and confident person who is not afraid to speak her mind so hello world we exist!
This is an extroverted world. The entire system is made for extroverts. The movies put extroverts in spotlight. The books put extroverts in spotlight. But let me tell me one thing, introverts don’t need anyone to put spotlight on them, they shine out of the blue by themselves and create their own spotlight.
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