Sometimes I think the world moves on the energy of extroverts, but it is the introverts that silently plan the route and design the guardrails that keep us from falling off the edge. We need each other, but don’t understand each other. It’s like that in so many situations.
Today I received my college midterm grade in one of my classes. A recurring dialog between the professor and me involves my quietness in class. I struggle to compete verbally with my classmates because the majority of them love to talk, and I do not. If there is something I believe I can add to the discussion I will try to speak up, but if there are already three students talking over each other to make their point, I sit back. I don’t need the drama or the loudness required to be heard. It doesn’t fit me. My professor feels if I’m not talking I’m not part of the class. It’s a dynamic that sets me up to decide if I want to please him, or if I want to be true to myself.
Granted, the exuberant energy that feeds extroverts is dazzling to be around. They tend to be animated and expressive, and they think as they talk. Sometimes they haven’t a clue where they’ll end up in their discussion points, but what the heck! They have the floor and life is good. Those of us with a different approach seem dull and perhaps unprepared by comparison, and that is what hurts.
The reality is that I am fully prepared when I arrive forty-five minutes before class even begins. I have great conversations…one on one…with students about the work and readings. Sometimes I’m left to carry the ball on a team assignment because the extroverts have been too busy socializing to help out. All this happens quietly and at a pace that suits how my mind works. I’m the plodding worker, and the extraverts are the party. Who doesn’t prefer the party in our society?
I’m frustrated that I don’t seem as brilliant as my talking classmates, but it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to decide what matters. It will take a toll on my grade, but I’ve decided I will not apologize for being quietly thoughtful. I pay my tuition to learn about subjects of my choosing, and not to be forced into someone I am not. When my life is ending, and I reflect on whether I was an authentic person, I’ll know I made the grade.
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