Saturday, March 1, 2014

Is It Okay To Be An Introvert?

Do you consider yourself an introvert? How do people around you think about it? Most important of all, why does it matter?

A whole bunch of events happened recently, and as a loyal viewer of the Vlogbrother videos and a reader of the amazing Erin Latimer , I started to think a lot on this topic lately. And by a lot, I mean pretty much all the time, so I think I'll write a post here and maybe have a discussion with you guys!  (Well, if anyone is reading my blog) Keep on reading if you're interested!

I was never the outgoing type. Sure, I gush about things now and then, and act like a total maniac when I'm excited. However,  most times I'm immersed in my own little world, pondering my life decisions, people around me and the beautiful unknown that I'm going to reach someday; or simply studying and thinking about what to eat for the next meal. People regard me as quiet, quirky, shy, weird, and probably a bit awkward and nerdy.

 Ah, nerdy. That's the word.

I don't know about others, but in our culture, people value extroversion much more than introversion. These personality traits are important and crucial abilities for most careers, from physicists in CERN to artists. True. Very true. I would never deny the importance of those social skills; they are becoming must-have's because we are animals that live together since the times we were still ape-men, it's impossible to get things done if you don't communicate with people.

I don't hate communicating with people. It can be frustrating, but the moment when we reach the win-win situation is beyond satisfying. What I can't stand are noisy occasions, crowded places and lots of screaming and in-understandable dancing/jumping/chasing. In short, parties. Well at least, what people think are parties here.

See? I can be really crazy with things I love.

I had a fairly busy winter break this year, in which I joined two winter camps that took four and five days each. The first was fine. I guess. It was a huge astronomy-lover gathering, and we observed stars at night and take astronomy classes in the days. There were a lot of group activities and a campfire party.  I couldn't fit in, despite my love for astronomy. I got tons of assignments and things to study for the next semester, and I was too worried that I couldn't finish all of them in the short period of time remained from the camps. In the end when it was the time to say goodbye and go home, I felt nothing, while people around me leaving phone numbers and taking pictures with each other; some even cried. Me? I was touched, but I didn't have such a strong wave of emotion. Why? I stuck my nose in a book or solved equations while others socialized and make friends and had fun.

Seeing people around me having fun and me not, I promised myself not to do this again.

Guess what happened? I did it again.

The next camp was even more active, despite the camp name of "Engineering Science Camp". I thought it would be a camp where every one sits quietly and listen to professors lecturing and dealing with electric circuits and what not, every one nerdy and geeky.We did have classes about Engineering Science. Five lessons, two hours total, ten hours. In five days. The rest? We danced like crazy. We had parties. Every. Single. Day. I'm not even kidding, they always had a reason to get us to scream and yell and jump around, and wouldn't let us go to bed before 1 a.m.

Three out of four night were like this. It nearly drove me bonkers.

Don't get me wrong, everyone there was super nice and trying hard to create an extraordinary memory for us. I appreciated them and was really touched by their passion and kindness. It's I couldn't fit in. Again.

But this time, I have something to say in my defense.

I know it's necessary to have some fun and activities during a camp, even if it's a pretty academic one. I have tried to fit in. Hard. From my first party in elementary school to the last one just days ago, I strove to dance, to sing, to yell and to go wild in the "crazy" crowd and tried to feel how their "excitement" was. Occasionally I did, but the shrill came and went like it never existed; the other times, I didn't understand. I didn't understand why people go wild for such things, I didn't see the point, I couldn't relate to them at all, and I felt like a lost puppy lingering at the edge of their territory, not knowing what to do. Time and again, I failed to be part of them.

If there's something I have learned from our sick education system, it's that it's okay to be not successful in something, as long as you tried your best because that means you've been through it and you know what it's really like. By that, you don't judge it with your first impression anymore. You know how it's like, and your abilities just can't reach the ideal expectations. In some cases, people don't give up and try harder to break their comfort zone and achieve things others think too tough to be done, but sometimes, you have to give up because you can't own everything.

In this case, I decided that it wasn't anywhere near me. It wasn't in anyway part of my personality, I was born to not be engaged in carousals. At first, they encouraged me to join and try to be wild and happy with them. I tried, but I didn't like it. I told them my  , the reason why, and how I tried before; still, they pushed me into the crowd. They made me feel untrusted. That they think everyone is a party animal, it just depends on whether you open your heart and embrace the "fun", and that I didn't want to because I was restricting myself, and that I judge it with my biased first impression so I didn't even try. But it wasn't like that.

It wasn't their fault. I don't like parties, but I like them and admire them for arranging the camp with so many activities that took a crazy amount of time and energy to prepare. I understand that it's very important for them to know that everyone has fun and brings home lots of wonderful memories; that's why it was so hard to tell them what I feel. However, I think it's also important to respect others' decisions and personalities and that there are people who have needs that are often viewed as reluctance to participate but in fact just being themselves.

In a barbecue karaoke party (yes, that's a thing) in the camp, there was this senior girl who saw me standing in the corner of the square where they held the party. She approached and talked to me. She first asked if I was alright. I replied yes so she then asked why I wasn't singing and dancing with other kids. I told her that I didn't like it, and that I wasn't used to it. Hesitate at first, she started to tell her story. She used to be that shy girl who was afraid to talk to others, but she decided to open up, hence the "outgoing"and "happy" person she is now. She hoped her story would encourage me to open up or so. I wouldn't deny the effort she made to change herself, but meanwhile, but I felt more confused than encouraged. If felt like she was implying that I have to change myself into a bubbly, outgoing girl. But that's not me.

I can hardly fit in the social norm of valuing extroversion.

Maybe I am biased all along due to the intense viewing of youtube videos, mainly of the leaders of Nerdfighters, the Green brothers (namely the Vlogbrothers). Somewhere on the Internet, the nerd culture is rising and prospering, and I have to admit that I was deeply influenced by that.

It tells me that being nerdy is fine and that it's okay to be an introvert.

I am that kind of person who prefers reading and being alone rather than going out socializing, so when I found them, I feel that I have found a home, a place where I belong...until now.

I think this video explains my thoughts really well and goes even further on the topic. It voices my opinions far better than I do, so yeah, I strongly recommend you to watch it.

The experience of the ES Camp really made me think about it all over again and put doubt in the nerd phenomenon. I'm trying to find a balance between the mainstream, gregarious culture and the nerd culture, but it's hard. I don't know if it's worth it to change myself to meet people's expectations; when I do it, I am not happy. If we have to change ourselves to meet the expectations of our society, then what's left for ourselves? Isn't the beauty of our world from all those diversity and differences?
(What is being happy, and how, anyway? Wheezy Waiter has an in-depth view on it.)

I think I'll never be an extrovert, I'll continue being an awkward teenager; maybe I will work this out or maybe I'll never have the answer the the question of the title. For now, I got my thoughts that have been whizzing around my mind out here and said what I have to say. 
If this could provoke further thinking, I'd be really happy. If not, at least I got my thoughts out.

What do you think of introverts and the nerd culture? Do you consider yourself an introvert? How do people around you think about it? Most important of all, why does it matter?
Please comment down below, I really look forward to it and thank you for reading!

Another insightful video (I'm such a sucker of Youtube videos but ANYWAY)

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