A reader recently asked me to shed some light on the negative perception that many extraverts have of introverts, and how we can overcome that. I believe that the following article by Jon Mercer answers those questions quite well.
Depending on which research you look at, somewhere between 30 to 40% of the population are introverts. In the United States alone, these statistics represent 75 to 120 million people. Worldwide, the number is well up into the billions. In other words, there are an awful lot of introverts around.
But unfortunately, many cultures do not appreciate introverts as much as they should. The United States, for example, tends to be a very extrovert-oriented society, and even the word “introvert” has historically had negative connotations, as if being an introvert was inferior.
Society often tells us myths like, “you must be an extravert to succeed in business,” or “introverts do not like people.” Both of these examples are completely false, however. And in fact, per capita, introverts probably contribute more to the world than any other single group. So much for their inferiority…
Here’s a good example: who is the wealthiest person in the United States? Bill Gates, right? Does anyone believe for one second that Bill Gates is an extrovert? I didn’t think so. Okay, how about the second richest person in the United States, Warren Buffett? Anyone who has done the slightest bit of research on Mr. Buffett’s background will be aware that he also tends to be introverted.
Interesting, isn’t it? Conventional wisdom says that in order to succeed you MUST be an extrovert; but the two richest people in the United States are introverts. Something doesn’t add up here…
Now let’s look at the other big myth about introverts, that they are” non social.” From personal experience I know perfectly well this one is also false. I’ve been an introvert all my life (or at least since puberty), and have always had jobs and hobbies that kept me in the public eye. I even worked for years as an entertainer playing gigs all over the world, meeting hundreds of new people every night and making friends all over the world. That’s a whole lot of socializing for someone who is supposed to be non-social!
The fact is, being an introvert isn’t about being non social; it is entirely to do with where your personal energy comes from. Extroverts tend to get their energy from other people — the crowd. This is one reason why many extroverts can’t stand to be alone!
Introverts, on the other hand, don’t “get” their energy from other people — they get it from their own life, and the time they spend in reflection and contemplation. Here’s another way of looking at it: introverts don’t take energy from other people, they GIVE energy to other people whenever they socialize.
As a loud and proud introvert, I have learned to appreciate that my personality type gives me many advantages over my extrovert friends and relatives. Of course, it’s true they have some advantages too. But the point is, introverts are not inferior to extroverts — not by a long shot!
In fact, if you begin researching the subject you’ll quickly find that a very high percentage of the world’s greatest achievers are introverts — much higher than the 30 to 40% figure that applies to the general population. Introverts who not only accept their personal characteristics, but learn to make the most of them, often become very high achievers, rising to the top in business, the arts, education and many other fields.
Another interesting characteristic of introverts is that they usually have the ability to “mimic” the behavior of extroverts. However, the reverse is rarely true. Very few extroverts can adopt the creative, sensitive and self-reflective nature of an introvert — not very well anyway. And interestingly, when introverts learn to accept themselves and appreciate all of the innate qualities being an introvert gives them, they tend to “outgrow” the social awkwardness sometimes associated with being an introvert in the first place.
The key is to become a loud and proud introvert! This may sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. Introverts can be proud of who they are and their specific strengths just as well as extroverts. After years of trying to be something I was not (an extrovert), I finally wised-up and began appreciating the awesome characteristics of what I was (an introvert). I can assure you, from that day forward I never again coveted the extrovert personality.
Once introverts become aware of the greatness that hides just beneath the surface in their personalities, the sky is the limit; and they are capable of achieving almost anything they set their mind to.
So are introverts really inferior to extroverts? Sure, if by “inferior” you mean, “more successful, creative and well-adjusted.” Haha!
About the Author
Jon Mercer is an accomplished writer and educator. He lives in St Augustine Florida, and enjoys writing on a variety of interests.
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