I have been a naturally soft-spoken person for as long as I have lived. Although I occasionally cheer along with a crowd or vocally contribute my opinions in a discussion, I find myself most comfortable and at my best creativity-wise when I’m alone or in a small group. These kinds of situations don’t occur often, though, especially during these high school years. Because I hold leadership positions in clubs at school, I often have to speak in front of large crowds of people at meetings, an act that still sometimes makes my hands cold and my voice quiver, no matter how many times I’ve been through it.
On paper, being the leader of a large organization looks better than being the leader of a small one because it appears to take more skill to manage. The difference for me, though, between the size of clubs is not the difficulty of management but the amount of positive impact and the quality of relationships between the members. That’s not to say that all small groups are tighter-knit and all large groups are loosely connected, but for me, I would rather get to know each person individually than “lead” them as a collective group. Despite my intuition, I can’t help thinking that the expected norm is “the bigger, the better”.
Our society seems to be geared toward extroverts – it’s the outspoken people who get commended on their personality and good deeds even if less vocal people do just as well, if not better. I like to think that I have a quiet enthusiasm that emerges when I’m taking part in something I’m passionate about, but sometimes, I am exhausted from constantly being around groups of people every day. I am by no means a misanthrope; I find people fascinating. But I prefer to interact with them on a personal, one-on-one level, or in small groups, and have conversations about things that we find intriguing, not just speaking to fill the silence.
I find myself doubting my own introverted tendencies, and even scolding myself for not being more lively and talkative. Why can’t I reflect the energy that comes so easily to most people? I spend the majority of my day in school, which means I have little to no time to be completely alone. With the lack of solitude, I can’t regain the energy I expend on social activities and I often appear tired, distant, or expressionless when, really, I just need some time to myself.
I don’t think being an introvert or hypersensitivity is something to be ashamed of at all; if anything, it shows thought, empathy, and understanding of the world. I’m currently having a difficult time accepting my own introverted tendencies, but instead of forcing myself to change, I will find a way to adapt my own qualities to what I want to accomplish.