Monday, March 9, 2015


Warning: The following contents may suffer extreme self-indulgence. 

This is what I call the perpetual complaint. And it began as a random musing, a result of what my roommate says is "diffuse thinking," about extroversion and introversion and the attachments to physical appearance. Then it, like many other things that begin as a simple seed of wonderment, blossomed into a fully-fledged complaint.

But perhaps "blossomed" is not the correct word for this subject. Considering it's a complaint, and a ferocious one at that, "exploded into a monster with snapping jaws" might be more accurate (since that's somewhat akin to what I'm feeling right now). Here is the simple fact, one that has been reiterated again and again by the introverts all over the world: We live in a world modeled for extroversion.

And here's another: We live in a world built for good looks. The other day, I randomly wondered to myself how many objectively (well, as objective as it gets) good-looking people are introverts, not extroverts. I could come up with three, maybe four people. I'm sure if I actually combed through my whole Facebook friend list or something, and then checked all my yearbooks (and maybe my sister's too, just for good measure), I would find several more. In any case, here's the thing–most good-looking people are extroverts. I pondered this notion aloud to my roommate, and she suggested that this might be causative. Good-looking people are raised, most often, knowing that they are pretty, and so they feel more confident, and attract more attention since others gravitate naturally towards them. So, the extroversion would seem to be something that is the result of nurture rather than nature.

I'm sure this isn't always the case, but I can imagine this occurs fairly frequently.

We live in a networking world. This is a world of fake smiles and tinkling laughs and necessitated charm. Our society lays it out for us, plain and simple: If you want to succeed, you have to do this and this and this to get there. You have to be a certain way–act a certain way, look a certain way.

And that, most often seen in the business world, is something that I think sometimes stems from that pesky thing called participation in the classroom setting. When I say participation, I don't necessarily mean public speaking; I think those are two separate things. Participation is the phenomenon that is valued very highly by certain instructors, and I can understand why, I suppose, particularly in language classes. Titillating discussion might not occur if there is not motivating factor behind it, if there's no grade attached to it, and participation, for many classes, is what can drive discussion and development of ideas. Writing seminars, for instance, language classes, humanities course–all of these seem to need participation to fully effectuate the learning experience.

But maybe it's because the system has functioned in such a way for so long that the motivation behind participation has been cemented as a point-based structure. And at this point, I am severely tempted (and will indulge that temptation) to quote Daenerys Targaryen–"I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel." My level of irritation with this heavy emphasis on participating for the sake of points, which results in fancy but empty answers pulled out of brown-nosing students' butts, has reached such a point that yes, I want to break this system. It just seems wrong that from such an early age, institutions beat into students the notion that they have to be a certain way to succeed. They have to learn a certain way and adhere to the nature of the formulaic classroom to be a "good" student.

Society has basically taught us that "shyness" is a fault. Introversion does not equal shyness, though that's a common misconception. Even though shyness can overlap with introversion, either way, the two are lumped together in a negative waste bin. My French textbook literally states that "timide" (shy) is a "défaut" (a fault). That doesn't seem right at all.

To be shy, or quiet, is not a negative characteristic. Just like being outgoing or bold, it's how such individuals choose to act that ultimately determines the level of positivity or detriment. There is significant merit in the ability to listen, and, like Nicole Krauss said in The History of Love, there's a treasure in silence. Perhaps more relevantly, however, is the fact that, like curse words, knowing when to use one's voice in necessary and important situations heightens the level of attention subsequently given. Think of it this way: If you speak all the time, many people will get used to your voice. And the likelihood of foolish phrases slipping out, mixing in with the wise words you have to offer, is much higher if you're totally okay with verbal communication (aka, verbal filter is lower). On the other hand, if you take the time to listen, as often quiet people do, and thus have the cushion room to carefully choose your words to form a specific and well-catered opinion, you're more likely to prove your point effectively. Plus, if people aren't used to your voice being blasted everywhere at all times, their ears will probably perk at the sound of your unique and individual voice.

I know some people make it seem like introverts are unique snowflakes and heighten the merits of introversion to the point of stuff like "quiet empowerment" and "silent but strong" and so on and so forth. No, I don't think introverts will take over the world, and no, I highly doubt we're unique snowflakes. Fact is, most people have a little bit of both introversion and extroversion.

But, it's wrong to proclaim introversion, shyness, and/or quietness are undoubtedly "faults." Introverts might not be out to take over the world, like creeping vines or something, but we have a level of additional staunch because society caters to outgoing fellows. So whoever says we should "get rid" of the qualities that make us introverts should watch out.

Nothing rankles more than inconsiderate, hasty, willful ignorance.