When I wrote my last piece on introverts back in August, I never expected it to get the attention that it did or be part of a sudden introvert online revolution.
When I was younger, I would constantly look out for articles, blogs or videos of young people who were going through the struggles of being misunderstood as an introvert. However, most of the resources I found online and in books were written by adults and others who studied introverts but never actually experienced being one.
While most articles and news stories have focused on introversion in adults, not enough awareness is brought to young people who deal with introversion every day. In November, I had the opportunity to speak at many elementary schools and it was then that I realized that while the awareness of quiet people has increased, the misinterpretations still exist.
People say introverts live a secret life, so here's a look into the secret life of the introverted kid.
I just said two sentences worth of words and you still think that's not enough?
This was something I kept asking and continue asking myself. There seems to be a limit of words that defines the border line between introvert vs extrovert. I, like so many other young introverts, attempted to surpass this word-limit in hopes of entering the so-called bright and happy land of the extrovert. But for some reason no matter how much more we try to speak, it is never enough and all our attempted conversations turn out awkward (or so it seems).
A class where grades were dependent on class participation made you feel worthless
In the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is a scene where the main character Charlie holds back from raising his hand in English class, even though he knew the right answer. From the very first day of school we're all taught the art of "hand-raising" and from then on it is an endless routine until that final hand-raise at your high school graduation, when you throw your graduation cap up in air. Classrooms instantly turned into talk-shows and points were given for small talk. I never quite understood why the ability to make small talk was so important or yet why it determined how smart someone was. If you talk too much at school you're given a warning or detention, but if you talk too little you're penalized.
You effortlessly entertained yourself with the most efficient gadget -- your mind
While most kids your age couldn't last a minute in silence or being alone, you got caught up in tasks that allowed your mind to wander. People often caught you day-dreaming or talking to yourself and you most likely even had an imaginary friend. The conversations inside your head almost made you feel like there was an extrovert trapped inside.
To other people, quiet looks like weakness
Dear teachers, interviewers and TV/movie producers, if you rejected a talented kid simply because they weren't extroverted enough, then you've simply let the world's next biggest star slip away. Quiet has too often been misunderstood for weakness. People tend to quickly judge someone who is quiet, as having low self-esteem or being insecure. In a class of students why is it so easy to assume that the out-going, extroverted ones will be the next Presidents, CEOs and award-winning actors? Are people unaware or oblivious to the fact that all these positions might end up being filled by an introvert? Current well-known young stars such as Debby Ryan, Emma Watson, Hunter Hayes and Bethany Mota all were known as the quiet, awkward kids in school but looking at where they are now most people wouldn't believe that.
You re-defined the meaning of "social life"
The monopoly of middle school, high school and college was all about how many friends you had, how many people knew you or if you're living in the social media age -- how many group photos you're tagged in and what Facebook and Instagram shows about what you did on the weekend. As a young introvert you probably have a few close friends and you're okay with that. Your weekends are quiet and often spent alone. While society may not approve -- with the invention of Netflix, the internet and selfies, it's becoming quite obvious that the universe favors introverts.
You've heard the phrases,"Why are you so quiet?" and "You can't be like this when you grow-up, you won't be successful," so many times you eventually lost count
Nearly half the population is introverted. So does that mean nearly half are unsuccessful? Over the last few months I've not only come to know of a lot of introverts, but also of a lot of extroverts who are secretly introverted. What's their regret? Trying to be an extrovert all their life when they knew inside it wasn't really who they were. Introverted kids need to know that it's okay to be who they are. That's why all through the month of March I encourage all introverts to share their stories about being an introverted kid, through the contact page on my website.
Lastly, to all parents, teachers, or friends of an introverted kid, encourage them to follow their passions and be themselves. As for the introverted kid reading this, be the best person you want to be. While you might feel invisible in a world that can't stop talking, know that you're not invisible -- you're infinite.