Article by Carlos Po
Photo by Yoonhee Tian
Pretend that you have been invited to a party. It begins right after school on Friday at 4:00 PM, and will end at the same time the next day. There will be constant music, dancing and drinks, and once you enter, you cannot leave until the next day. How does this sound to you? Does this sound like A) an ideal weekend and something to look forward to, or does this sound like B) painful and exhausting, something you would avoid at all costs? If your answer was B, you are probably an introvert.
Imagine that everyone is born with a battery, and they wish to keep this battery as fully charged as possible at all times. However, everyone charges their battery differently. Some people recharge from interacting with others and lose charge from spending too much time alone; conversely, some recharge in their ‘alone time’. This is the simplest explanation of introversion/extroversion, which are the two extremes of a personality sliding scale. Introverts aren’t necessarily “basement dwellers”, and can be just as social as extroverts. The difference is, they have a longer solitary downtime. Self-professed introvert Connor Simmonds admits, “sometimes I can’t stand people.”
What’s the scientific basis behind this, though? What makes someone an introvert? According to Quiet by Susan Cain, the difference lies in brain chemistry. Cain argues that the more reactive your amygdala (region in the brain) is to external stimuli, the more solitude you will seek out to balance this. Extroverts have less reactive amygdala, and seek to constantly stimulate it.
Due to their intensively analytic nature, many famous scientists, authors, and mathematicians are introverts. Some examples are Albert Einstein and J.K. Rowling. However, proving once again that being introverted does not mean being asocial, other famous unexpected introverts include actors like Emma Watson and Keanu Reeves, activists Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi, and even U.S. President Barack Obama.
Still, do not make the mistake of assuming that introverts are inherently smarter than extroverts, either. “Quiet students and loud students are both important in a class,” English and Film teacher Keith Bailey claims. “Sometimes you want your class to be all listening, and other times you want your class to be all talking.” A balance of the two is a good recipe for success.
As Stephen Hawking stated, “quiet people have the loudest minds in the world”. So, keep in mind that if you are an introvert, it is perfectly normal to want some alone time. In fact, it is a part of what makes you who you are. And if your best friend sometimes suddenly acts aloof and exhausted, don’t assume you irritate them. They might just need some recharging.