In a society where up to 50% of the population is introverted it’s not much of a stretch to say that introverts are being oppressed and the unique skill sets that are theirs are often wasted or unappreciated. Our school system and institutions do not support the well-being of most people. This talk speaks to how the gifts of introverted people in particular are not supported.
Introversion and extraversion on the Myers-Briggs exists on a spectrum. I am in the middle of the spectrum leaning somewhat towards introversion. I find that I can use some skills from both sides which is great, but the introverted part of me, did, always, like the speaker in this video, make me feel like I wasn’t doing some things quite right since the methods of extroverts are so much more loudly supported in our culture. Also I think I sometimes tried to over-compensate by acting more extroverted than I actually was. One thing my long and isolated illness has given me is a much better sense of self. I actually do very well with a lot of quiet time alone. I actually do much better. I didn’t always know that as I was taught there was something wrong with that. Like the speaker in this video, though, I spent hours on end reading as a child. Those are very fond memories actually as many of my formative moments were found in the pages of books.
Ultimately, we as a culture need to learn how to help all children and then adults find their unique skills and talents. Right now our cultural system thrives on supporting people to be conformists. This happens to many people in many different ways, not just introverts.
In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.
I actually speak to some of the issues of introverts needs and how it plays out in the mental health world in this post which was actually very popular: Are you “isolating” and “withdrawing” or do you just need to spend some time alone?
Alone time all too often is viewed as pathological in the mental health system!! That is nothing short of a tragedy if what people need to heal is alone time! No doubt on occasion the opposite, too is needed. More time with people. But we need to be attuned to both possibilities rather than being dogmatic about one or the other.
A book by Susan Cain: