by MaryEllen Cagnassola
Quiet, contemplative and solitary can seem like a trio of undesirable qualities to most high school students. Popular culture ingrains in them that they’re supposed to be boisterous, outgoing and social.
But not everyone in high school feels the allure of parties and constant socializing. Some prefer the quiet of solitude and find the idea of large-scale social interactions to be exhausting. These same people seldom raise their hands in class, are unlikely to be club leaders, fail to update their facebook status regularly or might even (gasp!) abstain from social media altogether. Such a person may be perceived as shy by peers, but in reality, he or she is likely just an introvert.
“If someone is shy, that person could really be chomping at the bit to share and engage but can’t. Introverted people have a preference not to exchange as much,” said school psychologist Christopher Loggia. “Introverted students would likely avoid the debate team. They can be significantly involved in something that interests them, but in things that are more contemplative and individual, like chess or golf.”
In the classroom, introverted students may not be the first to raise their hand, or even speak to the class at all, but their minds are certainly not quiet. “Introverted students tend to be strong academically and are good at formulating thoughtful insights,” said English teacher Candace Keller.
Introversion is a personality type found in people content to stay within themselves regarding their thoughts, feelings and ideas.
On the other end of the spectrum is extroversion, which can be defined by social outgoingness. Most people fall somewhere between these two extremes, but extroverts tend to be judged positively for their charisma.
It’s true that the extroverts hungrily slurp up most of the attention. Be it the garrulous student or the magnetic politician, they’re more likely to turn heads than someone who is introverted. It’s natural that quiet people take longer to be recognized for their talents and are often overlooked. But for those who identify more with introversion, it can seem like the world is designed for extroverts, with group activities in schools and the prevalence of social- media that focus on amassing as many “friends” as possible. But their quiet counterparts coule have more abilities and advantages out of their reach.
An extrovert may know how to work a stage, but an introvert’s patience and careful deliberation can produce better results. According to Sarah Korones of Psychology Today, there have been many introverted leaders, among them Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Bill Gates. Their innate abilities to reflect and act independently can be directly attributed to their fame and influence.
“I think introverts become more successful as they move out of high school and into a world that doesn’t value popularity, like the workplace, because they don’t need constant attention. They also seem successful in relationships and marriage for the same reason,” said Keller.
Unsurprisingly, introverts are often accused of being stuck in their heads due to their tendency to become lost in thought and keep to themselves. But they are, in fact, extremely sensitive and often the best listeners. While extroverts prefer to take control of the conversation, an introvert is more content to lend an ear. Because introverts are typically perceptive and in tune with their own emotions, they are also adept at picking up on the way others are feeling.
In a world that values gregarious personalities. quiet introverts can often feel shoved to the back of the crowd. But for all the appeal of extroversion, introverts have just as many endearing traits that can allow them to push their way to the front—quietly, of course.