Our culture says introverts are either shy or self-absorbed. Dictionary.com goes as far as to list “narcissist” as a synonym.
But I think it is time for our culture to bend a little bit and start recognizing those doorway-lurking-book-reading-home-on-Friday-nighters as valuable members of society.
School, work and life, however, tend to cater to and expect extroverts. Because of this, introversion is often misunderstood as a bad thing. It’s time we take a minute to pause and consider how introverts and the world interact with each other.
As a student, I find school to be particularly anti-introvert. From preschool, children are expected to work in groups for many activities.
That can be a problem. I would rather do all the work myself than have to deal with a partner. In a group, I either take control or take a back seat. I find other people to work like this too. They either are too controlling or too lazy. Or they think that green background would look nice in your PowerPoint when you know it will look terrible and have to urge them, not so gently, to reconsider the purple.
Another way school prefers extroverts is by grading class participation. If you don’t read out loud, raise your hand, and ask questions during class, most teachers think less of you.
I’ve had teachers address a classroom of unresponsive kids and claim they all must not know the answer because no one is raising their hand. Probably the kids just don’t feel like being singled out and speaking to the group. Introverts need time alone to recharge. Even school-aged introverts.
Schools, however, cringe at this concept. It’s understandable; a school can’t let kids be wherever in case of accountability. But there are many school days where I just need to escape the constant stream of chattering faces. A bathroom break helps but people would start to look at you oddly if you took a 15-minute bathroom break. Lunch is an ideal time, except for the fact you’re not supposed to leave the cafeteria.