If Google is any indication, introverts had better shape up and accept the fact that they must learn to get outside their comfort zone. Articles with tips for introverts include “tips to be more extroverted” and “how to overcome shyness forever.” Another Google search reveals fewer resources to help extroverts understand the other side — more often, you find “the surprising benefits of being an introvert” with only a few articles offering advice on “how to become an introvert.” If Google is any indication, popular culture is more likely to expect introverts to become extroverted rather than the reverse.
Why is there more information for introverts to become extroverts rather than vice versa? Americans are expected to be outgoing, social and constantly involved in everyone’s lives. Introverts must quickly learn to field questions and formulate responses about why they may prefer to be alone. As an introvert, it is tiring and frustrating to constantly have to explain ourselves.
Since the Internet is biased and some may not understand the rich lives of introverts, I would like to offer several suggestions for extroverts to become more introverted, or at least, enjoy more of their time alone.
Practice doing activities alone. Being alone becomes more enjoyable with activities that keep your mind and hands busy. Building, sewing, knitting and even coloring are good activities to focus a part of your brain while being alone. Reading, watching movies and playing video games do not have the same effect; they still provide a sense of interaction, and can leave the extrovert feeling lonelier than before once the action is done. Other activities that require more focus are better to practice if you are learning to be content while alone.
Stretch yourself by going to places alone. Going to the movies alone, eating alone and travelling alone can feel foreign at first, but it is an essential skill. Moving to another state, or even just moving to another residence, often means you will be away from friends and family who would be available to visit. In high school and college, there are often people around to do things with, even the most mundane chores, but in the working world, there will always be times when you will have to do things alone. Even walking or praying are good ways to practice being in your own mind while appreciating something beyond yourself.
Learn the art of silence. Extroverts recharge by being with people, and usually that means talking. Talking is not a bad thing, of course, but trying to wheedle information out of a shy introvert is not beneficial. Extroverts might feel like a hero for running a grade-A extraction project, but the introvert feels guilted into it. Especially in the United States, small talk to fill the silence is viewed as a necessary action that everyone must be good at. Yet, there is no rule that silence must be filled. Any actor will explain how pauses can be beneficial. To an introvert, they provide a moment of relief, as well as providing a time to plan how to proceed. It can also inspire an introvert to ask their own questions and keep the conversation going. Extroverts need only learn to be content with silence.
The world is made of introverts, extroverts, ambiverts and all combinations. The world needs those who are outgoing just as much as those who prefer solitude. Without variety, society would neither be a fun place nor a functional place. To extroverts, I implore you: learn to appreciate the silence.
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