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I don't need excessive chatter

July 31, 2007|By ERICA COLLIFLOWER

Rant

Can you describe an introvert?

On the surface, introverts might seem as though they never talk, don't really like people, and might seem a bit snobby. But, take it from an introvert, quiet people do talk, they do like people, and they are probably the furthest thing from snobby.

Trisha Mose, 17, a homeschooler from Hagerstown, says that an introvert is "someone who prefers to observe and stay on the sidelines." "Webster's Dictionary of the English Language" says that an introvert is "an individual with strongly self-centered patterns of emotion, fantasy and thought."

There are other definitions.

"Introverts may be common, but they are among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world," Jonathan Rauch wrote in the March 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. His article, headlined "Caring for Your Introvert: The Habits and Needs of a Little Understood Group," is online at www.theatlantic.com:80/doc/200303/rauch.

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It's true. A lot of emphasis in American culture is placed on the outgoing, people-loving persona, while inadvertently creating pressure for introverts to be outgoing and talkative. Many times, quiet, introspective people are considered abnormal and urged to change to fit a social norm.

"Being an introvert does not equal being stupid or backwards," Mose says. "People jump to conclusions about introverts. They assume that a shy person is antisocial or suffers from low self-esteem, which may be true for some, but not the majority of self-thinkers."

Morgan Wright, 17, who will be a senior at North Hagerstown High School, says that "even though they're quiet, they're still a genuine person and worth getting to know."

Introversion is not a defect. It's how some people are made up. Introverts contribute a lot, but they are thinkers rather than instant doers. They can be good listeners and good friends. Mose says that introverts "can be very valuable friends because they are more interested in forming personal friendships and not ... influenced (by) group thinking."

Though introverts are quiet and introspective, accomplished introverts show that success is determined by using their talents, even if talking and socializing aren't part of their gifts. Our world today would be very different had it not been for the influence and accomplishments of people like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, all of whom were introverts.

Although introverts are a relatively small group of people in the U.S., they make up about 60 percent of the gifted population, according to Carol Bainbridge at Giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/introvert.htm.

Yes, introverts do, at times, need to push themselves out of their comfort zones. But they should never be considered slow or worthless because of their lack of words and their need for quiet.

They just need a little space.

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