How introverts can strive in an extroverted society

hailey
3 min readApr 4, 2022

“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts” — Anais Nin

We are living in an ‘extrovert ideal’ society, where the majority still believe that we have to act like an extrovert to be successful, from verbal to body movement. Presentation skills are more important than the ideas themselves, and people respect you based on that. Are extroverts really more successful, no matter in school, in the workplace, or in life?

Firstly, there is no direct relationship between success and extroverts Good presenters do not equal good leaders. Some great leaders are in fact introverts, like Tim Cook, and Bill Gates. Leaders have to organize team meetings and communicate effectively with their employees, while public speaking skills are a plus. Also, teamwork sometimes kills creativity because of groupthink. Social loafing, and fear to look stupid in front of others make them conform to the same ideas rather than proposing new ideas.

Secondly, there is no clear cut between introverts and extroverts, they appear more like a spectrum. When you take MBTI tests, the results show you a percentage rather than the absolute number. As psychologist Walter Mischel suggested, we are more like a situationist, who can present various selves in situations X, Y, and Z. Personalities are not fixed but can be stretched to a certain level like a rubber band.

Many introverts overstretch themselves and pretend extroverts to succeed in society. As an introvert or at least lean more on the “I” side, I know pretending to be outgoing 24/7 is draining. It is hard to force ourselves to be extroverted all the time, so the question is when?

The book “Quiet” by Susan Cain, suggested three tips.

  1. identify your priorities and pretend yourselves as extroverts in these situations
  2. set goals, once you reach them, you can just enjoy yourself.
  3. know your restorative niche to recharge and set boundaries so you won’t overstretch

Lets’ say career planning is one of your priorities, if you need to network for your job, go for it. Make a goal to network with 1 deep connection and go home if you reach it.

Knowing your optimal level for stimulation can help situate you in an environment favorable to your personality. You feel comfortable at this level but also get stuff done. One of my priorities is academics. For example, I schedule project meetings ahead, ensuring I only have at most two a day, as having more than that will drain me out. Performance also drops. I also put myself at a more comfortable level when it comes to networking. I prefer one-to-one talks to huge networking events, therefore I set a goal to make one meaningful deep connection than circling around in networking events. I also give myself enough time to recharge if I really have to go to huge networking events or be with a large group of people, usually running or going to the gym.

I really hope we introverts can shine in our own way, being reserved and quiet can achieve a lot too. But there is still a long way as a society still puts too much emphasis on the ‘extroverted ideal’. We introverts have to find a balance so we can strive under this culture, at the same time don’t drain ourselves out.

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hailey

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