It’s Quiet Uptown

If you see him in the street, walking by himself, talking by himself, have pity….

Yeah, I’m obsessed with Hamilton. No, it’s not a problem. No, I don’t need an intervention.

Also, Moana totally should have won the Oscar. #EGOTforLinManuel

But, I’m not here to talk about how amazing Hamilton is, or how I really just want to get brunch with Lin Manuel. Instead, I want to talk about the value of quiet.

The older I’ve gotten, the more privy I’ve become to how much value society places on being extroverted. I mean, even within the feminist movement, people are now saying that “female bosses are hot,” “female entrepreneurs are sexy,” “successful women are sexy,” and so on. Which, I mean, isn’t wrong. But, that’s not the point of the feminist movement. The whole point of the feminist movement is to promote equality between genders, as well as the groundbreaking idea that it’s ok to be yourself–whether that’s being a #girlboss, or being a supportive girlfriend/wife. Feminism is about feeling free to make choices in order to live the life you want–and that goes for both genders. Neither gender should feel constrained by a specific set of characteristics. Men shouldn’t feel like they’re “less” because they show emotion; women shouldn’t feel like they’re “unfeminine” if they like wrestling and sports or if they’re career women. On the same note, women shouldn’t feel like they’re not feminists unless they’re baller girl bosses–if that’s not what they want for themselves, they shouldn’t feel pressure to be that way just because it’s what’s currently viewed as attractive or successful. Success comes in many forms, and attraction depends on a lot of different factors. Both genders should just feel free to be themselves and know that whatever they choose, they will be accepted.

But anyway, I digress. Though, it’s extremes like these that make me feel like I need to prove that I’m cool in spite of the fact that I’m introverted. People don’t aspire to be more introverted; most introverts aspire to be more extroverted. I don’t hear many people say introverted people are attractive. I do hear a lot of people say that “overly sensitive girls are insecure and you must avoid them.” (Why is introversion associated with insecurity? And why is being sensitive such a bad thing? Being sensitive and being insecure are two completely different things, and neither have much to do with being introverted vs. extroverted.) When people think “confident,” they think extroverted. I do feel that the scales are tipped in favor of extroverts.

I really think it’s important to note that introversion doesn’t equate to not being confident or not being a go-getter. I consider myself introverted, and yet I also consider myself assertive when I need to be, and confident in myself. Just because I think a lot, and I don’t have a loud personality, and I don’t like to constantly be surrounded by people, that doesn’t mean I’m not confident. Confidence is, by definition, “a feeling of self-assurance arising from appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” It has nothing to do with extroversion vs. introversion. It has everything to do with how you view yourself. Extroversion isn’t a pre-requisite for confidence. And introverts shouldn’t have to prove their confidence by showing how social or outgoing they can be, if that’s not what they want to do. I like to think that truly confident people can see the confidence in others, regardless of their personality type. People with false confidence, on the other hand, will only see the shortcomings of others, and will fail to realize the confidence others have in themselves if those people don’t fit a certain archetype.

I think it’s also important to realize the value of being introverted. For the greater part of my life, I was always encouraged to go outside my comfort zone, get to know people, talk to people, be more outgoing. It would be good for me, I was always told. It’ll be good for me to get out there, to talk and learn to be more loquacious and more social. (For the record, having good social skills also has little to do with whether you’re introverted or extroverted. I like to think I do have good social skills–I can carry conversations and make new connections with other people, even though I am an introvert.) Why aren’t extroverts encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and be more introspective? There isn’t enough value placed on emotional intelligence, and that’s a problem. It’s why people these days struggle to decipher “signs” from people they’re talking to, why people find relationships so complicated and difficult to figure out, why people don’t know how to feel better without the use of medication or external stimuli. I cannot count the many instances where I’ve been hanging out with people and they’ve gotten bored easily and have needed flashy, extravagant things to stay entertained. I cannot count the many people I knew who didn’t naturally like to go out drinking on weekends, yet that was the only way they thought they could meet other people and so they did it anyway, instead of risk spending a night alone doing things they actually wanted to do.

As an introvert, the things I valued were different. I wanted to figure out my own interests outside the pressure of what people thought was “cool.” (Which probably explains why, as an adolescent, I was never considered “cool” or “popular.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) I wanted to understand why I thought the things I thought and felt the things I felt. If I was hurt, or confused, or upset–I ruminated a lot. While that did make me more stressed out and anxious, I do think I took away from those ruminations with a better understanding of myself and others. And I love the fact that I am introverted. I think that my being introverted has taught me a lot about emotional intelligence and understanding people, and I’m proud of that. That said, I still do think there are a lot of things I can improve about myself, but I consider my introversion to be a strength far more than a weakness. I think my introversion allows me to find hobbies and activities I’m really interested in, instead of just going along with where the crowds are. It allows me to feel more immune to the pressures of being a certain way in order to be accepted, and thus develop myself in a way that’s true to who I am. It allows me to feel at home and comfortable even when I’m alone. It allows me to feel perfectly content going to out to eat by myself (face it, unless you’re a celebrity, no one’s really watching you and no one really cares). If anything, my introversion has contributed to my confidence in myself. I’m definitely not the most confident person in the world, and there are lots of days where I struggle with insecurity, or anxiety, or both. But being introverted has allowed me to explore these struggles, talk through them with a trusted friend, and learn more about myself and others. Introversion is a good thing. It should be valued, not looked down on. Emotional intelligence, sensitivity, the ability to unwind and be alone–those are good things. Those are integral to personal growth. Those are things we should all want. So yes, it’s a good thing for introverts to go out of their comfort zone, try new things, talk to people, be social. But it’s also wonderful for extroverts to get out of their comfort zones. Spend some time alone. Unwind a little. Be comfortable in solitude. Understand your thoughts and emotions. Understand the value of being alone with yourself; understand the value of being quiet. When it’s quiet, that’s when you can really listen.

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