Movies portray college as the best four years of your life. A time for partying, finding love or countless partners and the occasional act of hitting the books. Reflecting on my own college experience, however, I find that none of these stereotypes fit my life or experiences at all. There have been no parties other than work-related ones, only the occasional date, nothing more, and I know my textbooks better than my friends’ social lives. When you think about it, my life sounds pretty boring, but in reality I live an extraordinary ordinary life, and I would not have it any other way.
If you have not already guessed, I am an introvert. One who would rather ponder my own thoughts in solitude and spend time reflecting rather than jump into things. Basically I like to think first, and then I will speak. Silence is common, as well-planned thoughts take time to process, and I am typically thinking how to phrase things in politically correct ways. For many, the silence bugs them and is often misperceived as me being pissed or confused. But no, I am just thinking.
Large groups or continuous social interactions overstimulate my senses and often stress me out; thus the idea of parties or even school dances are uninteresting to me. If I were to attend, I would be that loner standing against the wall, observing people’s interactions or looking for that individual who wanted to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time in-depth. Conversations are what I find rewarding, not how many people I know or where I am in the social ladder. It is not that I fear participating in these activities but that I would rather spend my time doing more worthwhile things, things often looked down upon in our society, as ours is a very extrovert-biased world.
Being an introvert, though, should not be confused with being shy. We are fully capable of putting ourselves out there, but we probably come off as more reserved to the extrovert eye. Again, this does not mean we dislike spending time with people, but that we often find it mentally draining, and we find solitude refueling. Engaging in nature and being immersed in the calming serenity it offers is what I prefer. It creates the perfect environment to reflect and collect thoughts, but it also ultimately refuels my active mind with the intrinsic nutrients it offers.
In a large group conversation, I am probably less likely to actively speak my thoughts or opinions, but I would react differently to one-on-one or smaller group interactions. Being the center of attention or receiving noticeable recognition is not needed, as we would rather blend into the background than be constantly acknowledged for our achievements or thoughts.
I often find it easier to express myself through writing and photography, in which the image or article expresses who I am instead of demonstrating it via social interactions. This allows for multiple interpretations and a continuous mystery. Although misconceptions arise, I find it comforting that I am not an open book, but rather a complex individual. See, if individuals take the time to get know an introverted person, they will find out they are actually genuinely interesting. It may take a while for them to open up, as we are typically guarded about the information we distribute and those we let in. Trust will build over time, so be patient.
Keep in mind there is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Depending on the situation, qualities either outgoing or reserved may apply. As mentioned earlier, we live in a very extrovert-biased world, in which a more equal balance of personalities is needed. With only one third of individuals claiming themselves as introverts, we are outnumbered greatly, especially in leadership roles. Be proud of your personality, extroverted or introverted. There are strengths and weaknesses in being an introvert; however, you can use your talents to do amazing things. Go forth and ponder in the solitude that makes you who you are.
Kelly T. Knutson 15′ is an opinion columnist for the Concordia who focuses on environmental awareness / concerns in his entries. Originally from the upland prairies of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kelly recently transplanted to Bemidji where he calls the conifer forests of Minnesota his home. Being ecologically literate and knowing his roots comes at high importance to Kelly. In his spare time he enjoys being immersed as well as fascinated by nature through hiking, birdwatching, mushroom foraging, camping etc. At Concordia he is involved with Sea – Student Environmental Alliance, Concordia Chapel Choir, Eco-Reps as the Coordinator, 2014 Sustainability Symposium planning committee, coordinating the 2014 HILT High Impact Leadership Trip for spring break, and a Lab TA for the Biology department.