Think about people who received the most attention at work or in school. More often than not, it’s the social individual who is the first to stand up and speak in front of a crowd – the extrovert. In a culture that adores the extrovert, where does that leave the introvert? It’s important to understand that being an extrovert isn’t valued in every culture. Actually, it can be quite the opposite. In some cultures, extroverts can appear uninhibited, rude, brash, and impolite.
Extroversion is often affiliated with positivity and happiness in the West. As a result, those who prefer to remain away from public notice appear to be deeply unhappy with themselves for not thriving in social situations. When introversion is regarded as a weakness, like it seemingly is in the West, sadness and low self-esteem become prevalent. This is termed the “extroversion deficit”. With this in mind, introverts can also struggle with the feeling of authenticity as a result of comparing themselves to the cultural ideal and the social pressure to be outgoing. The introvert’s struggle to maintain a false self can also come with a psychological cost – depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety, etc.
In a culture that favors extroversion, people can feel much better about themselves by staying true to who they are and avoid adopting the “extroversion-deficit” mindset. Introverts should try to adjust their worldview and authenticity of themselves to become more comfortable with who they are.
As an introvert myself, I quickly adopted the “extroversion-deficit” mindset as I was growing up. After high school, my refusal to accept my authentic, introverted self drove me to consume drugs and alcohol as a way to appear social and extroverted. However, this never helped me when I was sober, nearly leading me onto a path of self-destruction and addiction.
I only started to accept my true self as an introvert within the past 3 years. Though I do struggle with social anxiety frequently, overall I do feel more authentic. Furthermore, the need to measure up to the Western cultural standard of extroversion ceases to exist in my mind. I don’t feel the need to adopt a different personality nor put on a front in any situation. This feeling of authenticity and acceptance has actually helped me to cope better in social situations, giving me more comfort in talking without worrying what the other is thinking of me.