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May 14, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Student Counselling

To ALl Of the Introverts out THERE

Usually we have a good sense of whether we (as well as others) consider ourselves an extrovert or an introvert. Some individuals (known as ambiverts) have qualities of both extroversion and introversion.It’s also important to keep in mind that no one is purely an extrovert or purely an introvert, as Carl Jung once said. However, I believe it’s extremely useful for us to explore our own preferences, personality, and temperament. It’s usually thought that extroversion is ideal in our society, as extroverts are naturally good at interacting with others, whether that be with strangers or friends, are assertive, are highly social, and are risk-takers. We tend to associate extroverts with positive qualities and introverts with, well, qualities like quiet, bookish, and shy, as if they were undesirable traits.

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, begs to differ. Cain is a lawyer and lecturer in the US and argues that introverts are largely undervalued in western culture and continue to be bypassed for leadership opportunities.

Cain believes we need introverts and “thinkers” for innovation, and notices that we need introverts in our culture and society. Ideally, we need more acceptance and appreciation of introvert-extrovert differences.

In counselling, it seems that students often associate introversion to being ‘socially awkward’ and believe that introvert characteristics are viewed as ‘bad’—something to change rather than something to accept. Students with these concerns often report having a difficult experience in high school, being bullied or teased.Instead of seeing ourselves negatively as ‘quiet’ or ‘shy’, we can see these qualities in a more positive way, such as: mellow, calm, laid-back, soft-spoken. And reality is that many introverts like to socialize and be around people as well! It just looks different. Normally, introverts prefer smaller scale social gatherings; for instance with a small group of friends, or one-on-one coffee meet-ups. No matter where you are on the extrovert/introvert scale, it’s good practice to ask yourself: what works for you?

Don’t force yourself to do something that’s unnatural to you. It’s important to be true to yourself, and pay attention to your strengths and creativity.

It’s okay not to like small talk!

Try to gain some awareness around your own temperament and allow yourself the environment that’s best for you to thrive and enjoy life.

If you are going to a party or larger social gathering, focus on striking up a conversation with one person at a time. And plan for some quiet time before or after the event.

If you would like to explore more about what your interface is with others and the world you could make an appointment to talk with a counsellor, contact the Counselling Service:

  • Phone: 04 463 5310 
  • Email: counselling-service@vuw.ac.nz 
  • Visit: Reception desk, Mauri Ora, Level 1 SUB, Kelburn campus. 

 

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