When I was in college I gradually found it very tiring to socialize with people; I found that there were few people who would listen, many self-centered people, and often after an hour or two I wanted to go back to my dorm. I loved going to class and eating alone; behind this great satisfaction of being alone was a strong sense of self-doubt and a feeling that I was developing a slightly antisocial and lonely personality.
In our first class at IC, we all took a test called myers & briggs, and the first item on the test was personal preference for extroversion versus introversion. We all have many faces, and this test is saying that everyone has a natural preference. And the difference between introversion and introversion is not the difference between not being talkative and being talkative, but your preferred way of drawing energy – if you feel tired after work, do you relax by taking a bath alone, or by going out for a drink with friends? Introverts get their energy from themselves, so they like to be alone when they’re tired; extroverts get their energy from the outside world, so they like social settings.
Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: the power of introverts, freed me from self-doubt. Our previous understanding of introversion and extroversion was often limited to whether we were shy, sociable, etc. I myself was a “victim” of this. I was a “victim” myself. From a quiet child, to a “lively” girl in junior high and high school, to a quiet personality that has gradually returned since I turned 20, my behavior has changed a lot since I started to understand. There are very complicated external reasons and “peer presure” behind this, so much so that my former friends would not believe that I scored a perfect score on the test of introversion and commented in the photo that I “should not be quiet”. In fact, introverts can also talk eloquently, even in front of many people. Some of the characteristics of introverts are: they prefer to receive information rather than send it, they prefer to digest and think alone rather than develop ideas in conversation, and they have sharp boundaries between “people they know” and “friends”. –Having a few people who can share everything rather than a wide, even circle of friends.
Truly understanding and accepting oneself and moving one’s life path closer to one’s natural preferences can make one’s life much easier. This is why Myers & Briggs is so frequently applied to job searches and work situations. In college, I was told I should be suited for a career in public relations, perhaps because I seemed lively and outgoing and easy to talk to. I was clueless and went on to intern at a PR firm, and I didn’t like my job not because there was anything wrong with the job itself, but because for my introverted self, every phone call was a big task and every meeting with people was a milestone.
Of course now I understand that PR is, I’m afraid, one of the least suitable professions for me. When combined with the results of other tests, I am an INSIGHTOR type of person, suitable for organized and logical thinking, with a lot of individual work that requires concentration. This explains why the Chinese college entrance exam system suits me so well, why science suits me so well, and why I struggle so much in the media industry, which requires creativity and networking. So when I looked for a job I tried to avoid jobs I didn’t think I could do.
What I can’t stand is the social stereotype of introverts and the overall slight sense of superiority of extroverts. Introverts are imagined to be unsociable, not very good at talking (or even stuttering), and full of acne with no partner. During my lunch break at work, I like to sit alone in the restaurant in the corner and read a book while I eat. I feel that this is a necessary recharging break in my day. Many extroverts don’t seem to understand such behavior, and occasionally people kindly invite me out to dinner with a group of colleagues. I appreciated the kindness in their words, but resented their sympathy for people who were “alone”. During a training session, after the instructor analyzed this list of personality traits, I was still told in a reassuring tone: I think you’re a good conversationalist, so don’t worry too much about the fact that you’re actually introverted. My mother also reminded me at times that “introversion is not good”. On the job search, companies claim to be looking for people who are “sociable, good team players, enthusiastic and positive” and so on, and I definitely believe that such people are valuable to hire, but these are not the strong points of introverts.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with introversion. Introverts are often a larger percentage of the population than we think. Introverts keep a lot of things and opinions to themselves, such as assuming that others are less likely to be interested in my ideas unless I feel that they are strongly interested in asking my opinion or that I have to speak up to defend my values. Because there is less of a “desire to express myself strongly,” there is more information to observe and absorb, and introverts are somewhat more thoughtful and better listeners. Susan Cain’s TED Talk and her book have demonstrated the characteristics and advantages of introverts.
I am not a psychologist …… I just believe that if introverts have a rich world in their hearts, this world is already big; the splendor of life does not necessarily need to be shown to all people.