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Shying away from stereotype

September 26, 2015

Introversion steps boldly into the spotlight and becomes the centre of attention



By KP See

Stereotypically, the introvert is the shy, socially-inept, awkward wallflower you see at almost every social gathering (which they rarely attend). But contrary to popular belief, the introvert is not necessarily the social butterfly’s polar opposite.

Introverts are not shy or misanthropic – they just prefer less social contact than an extrovert. An introvert may not chit-chat with you not because he is aloof (sombong) but because he doesn’t feel he has anything to say. But be warned: if you broach a topic near and dear to his heart, you may have problems getting him to shut up. Read more about the common misconceptions here and here.

Susan Cain, Chief Revolutionary and co-founder of Quiet Revolution gave an excellent talk on TED (a brilliant “platform for ideas worth spreading”) on the unique abilities and talents that introverts bring to the table. Christian Salafia concurs. Just like everything has a yin and yang, the world needs both extroverts and introverts.

Like any other personality trait, extroversion/introversion is on a spectrum. Individuals who are neither one nor the other are sometimes known as ambiverts. There are some who also prefer the terms, “extroverted introvert” or “outgoing introvert”.

Identifying where you fall on the spectrum can greatly help improve your quality of life – when you know what makes you tick, what conditions you function best under, you can maximise your performance, whether at work, or play. Knowing when certain conditions are sub-optimal helps you to make allowances for yourself and compensate accordingly. Awareness is the first step – you are only fighting a losing battle if you try to be someone you are not.

Simply put, we cannot really judge someone based on outward appearances and perceptions. We are better off acknowledging that we are all different, and accepting each other (and ourselves!) as we are. After all, isn’t variety the spice of life?

For more on personality or mental health issues, visit the Malaysian Mental Health Association (which isn’t just about mental illness or madness!).


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