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Joshua Oyenigbehin: Being an Introvert in a World of Extroverts

Joshua Oyenigbehin

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My childhood years were not enjoyable.

I remember thinking that I was being picked on by my parents for being different; they always complained that I had few friends… compared to my other siblings. They wanted me to socialise; to be out there. The pressure they placed on me made me think that I had psychological concerns; maybe I needed the intervention of therapists and even religious specialists. I felt I was too different to be normal. Then, I discovered that I am a very special kind of human – I am an introvert.

Introverts, like me, are often misconstrued; little is known about them, since they have succeeded in creating cocoons that assure them of solitude. These individuals have created a familiarity with their inner self, haven indulged themselves to be, not only self-conscious, but also self-immersed. This makes them buffered from the judgment of everybody else. Their personality has been tagged with all sorts of synonyms and adjectives such as: anti-social, asocial, shy, paranoid, snobbish and other derogatory words.

It has been observed that this human personality has been understudied and mythicised by a society where extroversion is socially accepted and acknowledged as a personality of conformity.

The lens of abnormality through which introversion is being viewed has created the impression of a disease that is undesirable; one that needs urgent cure. This is because most individuals, unfortunately, have not experienced the luxury of being pleased and satisfied with the innate and internal energy that is inherent within the human soul.

It is believed that introverts make up 25% of the world population. However, because of the uncommon nature of this trait, extroversion, which is the direct opposite of introversion, is seen as the ideal socially acknowledged personality trait, making introversion almost outlawed and undesirable. In our society today, it is normal and preferable to be an idiot with a sharp mouth – as long as you can talk without thinking, make ridiculous jokes in the midst of serious situations or events, and also have the flair for attending as many social events as possible without freaking out; showing off craze without hesitation.

Introversion is characterized by love for quietness and solitude. In the words of Susan Cain, an expert of introversion, “Solitude Matters, and for some people, it is the air they breathe” Introverts are known to be inward thinking. They are usually absorbed in their internal feelings and mood.

According to numerous personality theories, every individual has these two traits – introversion and extroversion. However, some humans tend to sway to one extreme. Unlike extroverts who are stimulated or emotionally charged by their interaction with social realities and people, introverts are internally charged and stimulated; they are worn out by being amidst people they are not familiar with. They enjoy the space they get in their own zone. They are quiet, reserved and thoughtful, most of them know what they are and what they want out of life.

This set of people are usually not bugged by what people think of them, neither are they concerned that they have a small group of people they can call friends. Introverts treasure their family members, and the long standing friendships that have been built over years of familiarity – especially with people who understand them. Unlike introverts, extroverts reach out to accumulate more friends through their obsessed interaction with new folks, sometimes foregoing the friends they have in hand.

Small talks seems to be one of those things that pisses introverts off. An introvert would slip away quietly when extroverts engage themselves in not too beneficial discussions – they hate and shun any form of useless talk. Nevertheless, they don’t hesitate to speak out when important matters are been discussed, especially matters that concern them. While extroverts are conversing without deep-seated thought, introverts would take their time in thinking through the matter before coming up with opinions that can be beneficial to the discussion. Introverts are very thoughtful and can be great listeners if you need them to be.

Introverts are many things but not necessarily shy. Introversion has been erroneously equated with shyness or social anxiety. Shyness, in it real sense, means the fear of negative judgment and adequately not synonymous with introversion. Although, shyness and introversion has been said to have strong links, some extroverted personalities have also be discovered to be shy.

Barbra Streisand, like many other extroverted celebrities, has grappled with chronic stage fright in time past. While famous folks like Bill Gate, Christina Aguilera, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, to name a few, have shown how introversion does not make a person liable to shyness. Do not, also, associate depression with introversion; extroverts suffer from depression too. Introverts are rather thoughtful and self-conscious, but not emotional unstable.

Introverts are not socially anxious, snobbish or arrogant – as most people presume; they not stupid, suicidal, awkward or mentally retarded. They are individuals who would rather prefer to stroll alone through the park, savouring the serenity of nature and exploring the complexities of their thought, than dancing on the floor of a club. Introverts are usually obsessed with a corner in their apartment where they can read a good book, write a profound poem or scribble down an emotional story.

They would rather sit for hours in their offices before their computers writing codes, working on a graphic project, painting and drawing, or listening to or writing a good song. This amplifies the fact that introverts are always in love with their hobbies. They are more productive when given the private space to work. Introverts are not merely wallflowers who go unnoticed at social events, some have proven to be show stoppers. You might be surprised that they are not as socially handicapped as you think.

Without a doubt, introverts can be better leaders and parents; they are sensitive and patient enough to listen to the opinion of their subordinates. They are thoughtful and strategic. Even though they are not very assertive, they can be very persuasive, if they have to be.

For any introvert to be successful, he/she needs to understand who he is and also seek out what drives his interest. All personality traits have its desirable and not too desirable makeups. Nevertheless, it is important that we understand, appreciate and respect people for who they are  – without any form of stigmatisation and approval of one trait over another.

Photo Credit: © Jhandersen | Dreamstime

Joshua Oyenigbehin is a Freelance Writer, photographer, and publisher of www.stationmag.com. His articles and write-up have been featured on top Nigerian online platforms. He is a passionate introvert. He shares networking tips and articles about Introversion on www.facebook.com/stationmagonline. His debut novel “The Sceptre’s Trail” has been published on Amazon and other online publishing platforms. Get your copy. He offers his digital writing services, including content writing, copywriting, book review writing and others via www.smwritingservices.com

9 Comments

  1. Em

    July 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Wow…. Nice piece!! I’m an introvert and always misunderstood. This explains how an introverts mind works.

  2. www.thelmathinks.com

    July 21, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    This is a rather dire picture painted of introversion. It really isn’t that deep or that serious. And BN, this your picture I’m not understanding, introversion is not depression or sadness or loneliness. The boy in that picture looks pretty sad to me.

    Joshua in your effort to shed light on introversion and introverts, you kept bashing extroverts. You said they’re “obsessed” with new interactions, they engage in “not too beneficial” discussions and speak without “deep seated thoughts”. Sounds like shaming to me. Do you see what you’re doing here? The same issues you raised, being shamed or ridiculed due to people’s misunderstanding of introversion is the very same thing you’re doing to extroverts. Tsk tsk.

    The truth is that many introverts admire and envy extroverts. We wish we can be more like them. We wish we are as carefree and outgoing and charming as they are. We wish we could just relax and let our hair down. We wish we don’t have to overthink everything before speaking, sometimes the conversation moves on just before we come up with a thought-out response. Oh well, introverts like me are happy introverts sha, once you understand your personality and what works best for you, you immediately become liberated. There is no need to defend what you are, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and are all beautiful in our own ways.

    • LIN

      July 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Thelma, i suggest you read through the article once more, then come back and correct your comment. As in, gp through again, word after word with eyes wide open..dear Madame extrovert

    • www.thelmathinks.com

      July 21, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      @Lin, I am an introvert, through and through. See where I said “introverts like me…” Ok.

      @Temijay, thanks for reading my blog. ?

  3. temijay

    July 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Lol Thelma calm down and read boo boo. Same ish you do on your blog.

  4. ANTHONY ADIBI

    July 21, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Joshua did have some good thoughts to share with us to aid our understanding of introverts. However there were a few generalizations about extroverts like “extroverts are conversing without deep-seated thought, introverts would take their time in thinking through the matter before coming up with opinions” is not the case in reality. Anyways, well done Joshua

  5. chi

    July 21, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    culled from nairaland…..

    These are the things only introverts will understand. Some of you may find them weird, but introverts will not care what you think. Although some introverts may seem like kill joys to you, they are just happy celebrating their individuality without any complications. Introverts, rejoice! And if you’re an introvert, you can surely relate to some of these:1. Rehearsing a conversation between yourself and a person or a group of people that you will probably never talk to.2. You really need downtime to recharge after long hours of socialising.3. You love to hang out with your friends, but it gives you more pleasure just to sit inside the house to think of world domination or catching up on your favourite TV shows.4. You don’t know how to stop an extrovert form talking when you want to end a conversation.5. You like to write things out or email your friends to answer close-ended questions.6. Introverts need some quiet time with the ones they love, without doing anything draining or that needs to much effort.7. Your parents want to invite more people to your birthday and you want to say no without sounding like a bad friend.8. You don’t know how to deal with too many visitors in the house and just lock yourself up in your room reading The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.9. When someone barges in your room un-announced you want to kill them but you really can’t.10. A party that you’re invited to get’s cancelled, and you laugh out loud from reliefand happiness.11. When someone attractive flirts with you, you freeze like an iceberg in the north pole during winter.12. If you decide to go to a party, it’s not to meet people but to hang around people that you’re really close with.13. You get easily distracted or confused when there is too much happening around you. You like to be focused and finish whatever you’re doing.14. You get slightly annoyed when people utter the words “be more social”… You are social, just not with everybody.15. Introverts will only open their hearts to the most special people.16. Introverts can do anything extroverts can do and really enjoy it, but sometimes it will take days for them to get fully rechargedand mingle again.17. When your office mates invite you out for a pub crawl, you politely decline and just spend the night at home with a beer and your favourite loud music playing.18. When you realise that you’re slowly turning into a hermit with a very pale skin… You need to get out and get some sun, son!19. When you have visitors for a couple of days, which is a nightmare to you because you will be required to be present all the time.20. It is total bliss when you have a clear schedule during weekends. It means more time for you to be alone and enjoying your “me time”.21. When people try to make small talk with you, you just can’t do it. You either smile, nod or just leave.22. Talking to another introvert can either bea wonderful experience or such a hassle, depending on your moods.23. Your downtime is not as unproductive as some people think. You can get a lot of stuff done when you’re alone!24. Sometimes you’re silent and have nothing to say… but it doesn’t mean that youcan’t say anything worthy or funny.25. You tend to stay up late, especially on weekends, to have more alone time.26. If you’re in a relationship with an extrovert, you know it’s a good way to balance things out in your life. Even if they are a little loud sometimes.27. When someone asks you if you’re ok because you’re being too quiet. You just nod or give a thumbs up and then go back you what you were thinking.28. Introverts value listening over talking.29. Introverts like to think and strategisefirst before getting into an argument.30. If another introvert chooses to be with you and spend quality time with you, you value it! You’re in this together.

    N.B introverts hate long phone conversations and we tend to run out of words and talks

  6. Nkem

    July 22, 2017 at 1:12 am

    This article came at the perfect time. I am an introvert who is misunderstood most of the time.

  7. oloye1

    July 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    this is a good paint of introverted traits….most often seen being weird most especially in a thoughtless clime such as ours…anybody just blabbs and readily welcoming craps…applauding stupidities and this its a reflection of what state we have found ourselves as a nation…

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