Thursday, April 7, 2016


by Gabriel Gonzales
This is an old coat that you’ve probably seen me wear a couple times around the college and in some classes.  It’s my favorite coat for several reasons.  I’ve had it since freshman year in high school.  But it also represents an idea I’ve had about myself for a long time.  A misconception.  I remember taking the MBTI, an accurate personality test.  And what it came down to was that I was introverted. Almost all the way introverted.  And as my hoodie got worse and worse and torn and worn, people would always ask me why I kept wearing it.  And one of my many reasons was “To keep people away, because I’m introverted.  I don’t like people or being around them.  I’m anti-social.”  I was of course, pretty far off on what Introversion was.

What Am I?
I came up with the idea that I was lonely and anti-social because of how society tends to treat introversion.  Because society and our school system tends to treat extroversion with praise and almost punishes introversion.  Extroverts are praised for being outgoing and talkative while introverts may be pushed to the side so to speak because they are quiet and reserved and seem unfriendly.  Kids are urged to be always active and always wowing a crowd.  This is where the misconception lies.  Most people in class have said that extroversion is “Being outgoing and talkative” while being introversion is being “quiet and reserved’.  Which is right, but it runs deeper than that.  Extroverts are defined as people who interested in things that are not themselves such as physical and social environments, while introverts are people who are more interested in their own thoughts and feelings and less in social interactions. This means that extroverts find satisfaction and gratification from outside sources like people and social events, while introverts find theirs through reflection on themselves and their ideas.

Am I wrong?
Another question I asked myself is am I wrong?  Because to reiterate, I was sort of taught that being extroverted was better.  Extroversion meant happiness and positivity while introversion was mean and people hating.  A flaw of the school system is we’re taught to think one way or another, disregarding personality.  The truth is neither personality is wrong or right.  A common misconception being that introverts are afraid of people or social interaction.  They’re afraid of being up in front of class and giving speeches and have panic attacks when they’re at parts or other gatherings.   In reality it’s not a matter of fear or emotion at all.  Introverts just don’t feel the need to talk unless they need to.  Otherwise it would be almost a waste of energy for them, in the same sense that extroverts may feel exhausted or agitated if they’re forced to be by themselves or away from people.  They need to get out and feel free.  Introverts feel free speaking and using their energy the way they feel comfortable.  It has nothing to do with fear, the same way extroversion doesn’t have anything to do with boldness or courage.  They don’t fear interaction, they would just rather do something that brings them fulfillment, like anyone else.

What should I do to change myself?
Nothing.  The truth is if you are introverted or extraverted, there’s little you can do to change your core personality, and you should never try to change yourself or ever feel the need to.  Each personality has advantages and disadvantages and both can function normally in society.  One no less than the other.  It should never keep you from your goals or interacting with people.  The idea that one personality is better than the other is a norm of society that isn’t true.

What should I do about it?
If you are introverted like I am, maybe being at school and around people can be more tiring than it would be if we were extroverted and liked being around lots of people or in a big group, and that’s fine.  We simply need a little more prep time for it.  Especially for me with these kinds of speeches.  It may seem like this is easy for me and that talking in class is easy.  I may even seem extroverted to some, but it is because I practicing speaking with people, beforehand and afterwards.  I reflect on myself and make plans for myself for what I need to do.  Whether it is to prepare for a speech like this or simply hanging out with friends.  Don’t ever sacrifice your personality for anything.

When dealing with an extrovert, try not to pressure them into “coming out of their shell” or being more outgoing.  Introverts can be very outgoing when they choose to.  It’s just not something they naturally do.  They may love to talk to people and share their thoughts and even go to parties, but it’s just not something they like to do.  The same way extroverts may like their peace and quiet and time to themselves, sometimes.  It’s like a natural habitat.  But, pressuring someone to do something not in their nature can be very stressing and exhausting for people.  Telling an introvert that they need to leave their shell and learn to be “positive and talkative” is wrong, in the same way when telling an extrovert to be quiet and to calm down and stop being so loud.  Imagine that you are the mother of an introvert, and your son’s teacher says comments like “Your child is lazy and too quiet in class!  He never wants to talk to the other students or asks for help!  I think you should have him evaluated, because he is just anti-social!”  It would have the same sting as if you were the mother of an extrovert, and you were told “Your child won’t settle down in my class and learn the way I want him to learn!  He always talks to other students and never shuts up!  He needs to be put on medication to help him calm down in my classroom!”

I Am Me, You are You.
For the longest time, I felt as if I was a bad person.  I didn’t know what I was, I thought I was wrong, I thought I needed to change and be extroverted to feel like I was perfect.  Like there was nothing I needed to do about my personality.  But it’s wrong to change your personality and be something you are not.  The focus of this speech was not to persuade you into think introversion was better or that extroversion is worse.  It is to inform people of what introversion actually is, because of a skewed view that society has on it currently.  Introverts function in society like anyone else.  Famous people who were introverts include that Einstein, Shakespeare, Bill Gates.  This doesn’t prove that they were geniuses because they were introverted or not extroverted, but because you can be anything and it isn’t dictated by one’s personality.  And each day I remember that when I struggle with my introversion and how I interact with people.  The answer I came up with to describe how to understand oneself and others, is “I am me, and you are you”.