The sun shines through the bright cobalt sky. Flowers are springing up on the overgrown grass as bees buzz around collecting pollen. For the first time in months, the weather in Eugene is not dark, dreary and rainy. Everyone is outside playing beer pong, partying and soaking up the sun. Music and loud voices blare from all directions.
But for introverts like me, spring is the worst time of the year.
Every day on my way home from class last week, I walked past students having way more fun than I was. As much as I would like to attend the outdoor parties people threw last weekend, my desire to cuddle up in my blankets and watch Netflix was too strong.
For introverts, parties are often filled with awkward encounters and the anxious desire to run away from everyone. Yet not attending these parties can make us feel lame or left out.
The party culture that is so prevalent on college campuses makes being an introvert difficult. The forced social interactions and the loud crowds can be overwhelming and draining. For me, parties and the small talk that goes with them aren’t that fun.
Yet there is a pressure in college to be social and to party. These outgoing, extroverted people make introverts feel ostracized at times.
In an article titled, “The Stigma of Introversion And Why It’s Wrong” the author says that, “Extroversion is seen as the ideal, and just as it is often said we live in a ‘man’s world,’ it can similarly be said that we live in an extrovert’s world.”
Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts, said in an interview that, “Our schools, workplaces and religious institutions are designed for extroverts. Introverts are to extroverts what American women were to men in the 1950s — second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent.”
There is a stigma, possibly created by this extroversion bias, that introverted means anti-social and awkward. In aPsychology Today
article, author Nancy Ancowitz says that the American Psychiatric Association considered including introversion as a symptom of mental disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2010. The definition they used included, “Withdrawal from other people, ranging from intimate relationships to the world at large; restricted effective experience and expression; limited hedonic capacity.”
If the APA decided to use introversion as a determining factor for mental illnesses, it would have been saying that being an introvert, even though much of the population is considered introverted, is such a negative thing that there may be something wrong with it. This could send a demeaning message to introverts.
I define an introvert as someone who enjoys and gets energy from being alone. It is someone that enjoys being with close friends, but not attending loud parties. Introverts are not necessarily shy though, which could be the cause for the stigma. To me, this definition is not a bad thing. Being introverted never seemed like a bad quality until I came to college.
Student orientations, mixers and dorm culture emphasize being social, and therefore, extroverted. So for us introverts, the desire to be alone or with friends that we feel close to can be seen as anti-social.
The negative connotation behind the word “introvert” is created by extroverts because they get energy from crowds and activities that require socialization, like parties. So someone who dislikes the party culture is strange to them.
As introverts, we can’t eliminate the stigma that goes along with our necessity for some down time. All we need to do is remember that being an introvert doesn’t make us weird or a failure.
We also need to remember that much of the population is also introverted. We are not alone, we just aren’t announcing our presence.