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Trying to Cure the Introvert

Why a Fix Isn’t Needed

“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.”

Anaïs Nin

I’m an introvert.

For some, the word introvert is synonymous with being shy, quiet, and being alone. It is also a word which brings thoughts of someone who can be awkward, weird, or a loner. An introvert can also be seen as somebody who lacks confidence while extroverts exude confidence and excitement. This is what society tells us, anyway.

Introverts are at a disadvantage when it comes to certain things including in the workplace and schools. The world favors the extrovert.

Especially in the hiring process for jobs.

The interview process is geared toward finding the most outgoing and energetic candidate along with the most qualified. There is a focus on “connection” that the introvert may not display in a typical interview environment. This favors the extrovert.

There has also been a push trying to explain the introvert or how to harness your power as an introvert. Numerous books have been written on the subject, probably the most famous being Quiet by Susan Cain.

In the book, Cain talks about how both school and the workplace are built for extroverts. She discusses how the classroom is high stimulation due to the large classroom and the way desks and the environment is set up. She also talks about how brainstorming in the workplace and meetings full of people also favor the extrovert.

In both places, introverts may not be willing to share ideas due to their nature and therefore be looked upon as not participating or caring. Again, all of this favoring the extrovert.

While I applaud what she is trying to do, how she is trying to help, and she says introverts need not be cured, she pushes the idea through her Quiet Revolution organization that introverts need to be empowered to survive and thrive.

But if you are an introvert, you don’t need to be empowered to survive. You are fine just the way you are.

Fixing The Introvert

Photo by Sidney Pearce on Unsplash

The popularity of Quiet has inspired many other books trying to “figure out” or “help” the introvert.

Books with titles such as The Secret Lives of Introverts. Like we are some kind of cult. Or hidden in the forest somewhere.

Another one is called Hiding In The Bathroom. This must be from all the extroverts pounding on the door to get in. It’s also after we moved out of the forest into the bathroom I guess.

And to be irresistible as an introvert, you must read The Irresistible Introvert.

I’ll be resistible, thanks.

The titles alone push the idea the introvert is someone who needs to be fixed.

I also read an article about how someone “overcame” their introversion and could finally approach people. Other people no longer saw that person as an introvert and he could now have confidence.

Being an introvert is not something that needs to be “overcome.”

If people see you as an introvert, there is nothing wrong with that. Why would anyone be concerned about being seen as an introvert? It’s not a bad thing. In fact, I would argue it is a good thing. The world needs introverts like it needs extroverts. Neither is better than the other. And in reality, we all have traits of both types. 

Unfortunately, society has taught being an introvert is something which we need to “overcome” or “fix.”

But this is untrue.

We need to be exactly who we are. Not some contrived person who fits into what society deems appropriate.

The Solution?

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

― Anne Lamott

I don’t know if we will ever solve the problem of trying to cure the introvert. There will always be people who believe there is something wrong with introverts.

But why aren’t there books about making extroverts more introverted? Why doesn’t society see extroversion as something which needs to be fixed?

It’s because society tells us being an extrovert is more desired. This is not only true in the way the world operates but also in how we are taught from birth.

We criticize kids for being “shy.” We demand participation in the classroom and even count it as a grade in some schools.

Going on vacation, out to eat or to the movies alone is seen as strange. And having fewer friends (typically by choice) is equal to being unpopular.

We celebrate people who are outgoing and social while looking down upon those who are more reserved and introspective.

But there is nothing wrong in being an introvert.

So instead of trying to cure introverts why don’t we cure how we perceive them?

Why don’t we focus on making society more friendly towards introverts instead of making introverts more friendly towards society?

I know this is easier said than done given the way society is. But introversion is not something which needs to be cured. It is not a problem which needs to be fixed. If you are an introvert, you don’t need to overcome anything.

Because introversion is something which should be celebrated. Being yourself is something we should be proud of. Don’t change yourself to fit what others believe is correct. It will only make you unhappy.

I’m an introvert and proud of it. I don’t need to be cured. 

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