Thursday, May 19, 2016

Introversion.

One of my most favorite YouTube personalities is EvelynFromTheInternets. (Just click her name to visit her channel). She's quirky, like me, just more funny. One of her videos that I was watching today (which I'll post below) approached the topic of introversion vs. extroversion. And in the description bar, she linked her viewers to an incredible TED talk by Susan Cain titled "The Power of Introverts."

Above is Evelyn's video, as you can tell by her darling expression. 

...And here is Susan Cain's TED Talk, The Power of Introverts. It's 19 minutes long but the information enveloped within it is well worth it. 

I was intrigued because I have always classified myself as an introvert since becoming aware of the term. I know that no person is solely introverted nor extroverted but I realize my personality and tendencies seem to align mostly on the introverted end of the spectrum. 

I could really relate to Susan's childhood story that she explains in the clip because I, too, had some of the same experiences. I was an excellent student for the majority of my childhood but my social skills weren't up to par in comparison to my peers. I was deemed too quiet, too shy, too reserved. Sometimes even as an adult today, I'm labeled with these words as if they're a bad thing. I'm told I need to get out more, live a little, don't be so uptight. It makes others uncomfortable for me to be so content with silence, solitude, and my own company. Unfortunately, they have never considered what my idea of comfort may entail. 

Being an introverted individual has its own social challenges, but compile that with being a dark-complexioned, African-American female. To those looking from the outside, it may seem trivial. What does race or skin tone have to do with an introverted personality? 

To put it simply, a lot. 

I've often felt that others expected me to have a grandiose personality because of my appearance. Being reserved and soft-spoken as an African-American female seemed to surprise many people I've met and I believe this is due to stereotypes placed on dark-skinned women. We're more aggressive (supposedly), louder (supposedly), more violent (supposedly)... There's a plethora of stereotypes associated with being a darker complexioned Black female. However, I never truly fit into those cookie-cutter personas other people readily held for me. And that didn't necessarily put them at ease.

Introverts in general are very misunderstood individuals. Society caters to the extroverted personality so very few take concern for us. As Susan mentions very early on in her video, many classrooms nowadays have done away with traditional school desks and have replaced them with tables--promoting "collaborative teamwork"(as if that is conducive to every student's learning). Those of us who reject those norms are seen as troublemakers and outsiders. It's not normal to want to retreat, be alone, and seek solitude for true productivity. And I believe there's truly something wrong with that. 

There are some of us who perform best when collaborating with other people. Teamwork motivates us to focus more, challenge ourselves, and become more productive. And that is perfectly okay. However, there are also some of us who function in the opposite manner. Being forced to engage in group efforts makes us less focused, less disciplined, and less motivated. It creates the exact opposite effect on us. We need the freedom to move at our own pace, with our own ideas, and solely with ourselves. That is how we craft the creations that truly represent who we are. 

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