Introversion is NOT Synonymous with Being Quiet and Shy
There is this meme circulating around about children getting in trouble for talking too much at school. There are variants to the meme. But the general premise is that there are students who get “talks too much” on their report card. And that was very much me. To some of you, this may be surprising to hear because I am also very much an introvert at heart. Meaning I prefer smaller settings and more intimate conversations and tend to get emotionally drained easily.
Literally, from kindergarten through 6th grade, I was the one who got in trouble for talking too much. I remember my teachers threatening to move me across the classroom so I wouldn’t talk to my friends. And guess what? I still talked with the other students around me.
Triggering Events Leading to Toning Down
I distinctly remember growing up and getting in trouble with my parents for disrupting conversations or talking over my younger siblings. I remember they would tell me to remember to breathe before I ever ate breakfast. Funny enough, Cody often calls me “good morning knowledge” because somedays I wake up with whole conversations in my head. Ironically, I was even sharing some of my feelings with him the other day on the matter. Want to know his response? “Hey don’t forget to breathe.”
And it triggered this memory that I had as a kid that I can vividly remember. During the summer leading into my 5th-grade year, we had moved to a new city and a new school. Obviously a new school year means a new teacher. But it just so happened that she also lived a few houses down. I remember my parents warning her about how much I used to get into trouble talking. I remember them joking that I better be on my best behavior not only because she was my teacher, but because she was also our neighbor. A simple and comical comment sparked something within me. I think that was one of the first times I felt like I had to tone down my personality.
And it’s so funny to me because I tell people these stories all the time and half the people who truly know me know exactly what I’m talking bout. They’re like oh yeah that’s definitely you. But then there are other people who are completely shocked by these situations because they view me as this quiet person who keeps to herself and doesn’t talk a lot and I really started thinking about how this impacts how I show up in the world.
This brings up a very concerning idea that introversion is synonymous with being quiet and shy. But it’s not.
Introversion is NOT Synonymous with Quiet and Shy
I actually wrote my college theses on personality and how it’s fluid and how people change within different settings. And it was based around the concept of introversion and extroversion and how most of the time, we don’t fully understand what those mean.
Despite popular belief, there are shy and quiet extroverted people just as there are outgoing, talkative introverted people. There is this false idea that if you’re introverted that means you’re quiet and shy and don’t like being around people. I will say that I am very much a reserved person. Meaning, I am selective with my words, especially around people that I barely know. I prefer solitude and reading books and working on puzzles on rainy days more than I prefer going out to parties and socializing all the time.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m shy or that I don’t want to talk to people or that I cant have fun. And I’m sure the opposite is true for extroverted people. Sometimes people overexert themselves in social settings because they are shy and quiet and to be more comfortable in awkward moments, they fill the void. Whereas, I am okay with silence. I’m comfortable with not always having to have something to say just go say it. But also, I’m fully capable of having fun and having a good time and socializing, it’s just in smaller settings because I get emotionally drained easily.
Condescending Comments Don’t Speak to Comfort
Want to know what is so condescending and detrimental to an introverted person? Saying things like, “oh wow, she talks” or “hey, can you speak up a little” or “hey, pipe down”. Because you know what that means? It’s belittling and it makes us want to talk even less. And the thing is, I am also a very introspective person meaning I take in a lot of information and process them through my feelings and emotions and how they resonate with me and it can be quite intimating for some people because they think I’m always analyzing them and they’re not necessarily inaccurate in that assumption but its more of, okay, can I trust this person to be my whole self with? Can I show up and not feel judged for who I am? Because condescending comments don’t speak to comfort.
I think part of the reason people can be so shocked by this is that most of my childhood was being told to quiet down and to let other people talk. As much as it’s important for children to understand when to voice their opinions, it can also stunt that child’s growth if we aren’t careful.
Maybe instead of telling children to quiet down because they talk too much or to talk more because it makes other people uncomfortable, maybe we should instead teach children how to use their voice. Maybe we should teach children how to interact with others and converse in their own native tongue. Who cares if they talk more or less than the next person?
Learning How to Use Your Voice Effectively
Let’s not dim people’s light because they’re going to need to shine it one day. Let’s not tone down people’s voices because they’re going to need it one day. And let’s not make people feel as though they should change their personality in order to not make other people feel awkward or uncomfortable.
Introversion is NOT synonymous with being quiet and shy. We need to teach children to understand how to speak life and spark joy in themselves and others.
Introversion isn’t wrong and neither is extroversion. It’s time we stop with the superiority complex. You aren’t better if you talk all the time. You aren’t better if you are more reserved with your words. People who talk more aren’t inherently more interesting people and people who don’t talk less aren’t inherently less confident people.
We all have our unique voices and it’s about time we learn how to use them effectively.