Well, yes and no.In our extrovert-oriented culture, being an introvert is not easy.
While extroverts thrive on outer stimulation, deriving their energy from it, introverts need quiet time to let the energy tanks fill up – alone. Introverts think deeply before speaking, and as one researcher demonstrated, leadership in a group often goes to the person who speaks up first and most often. Thus extroverts more often end up leaders. Their ideas are more often listened to and implemented.
Because we are an action-oriented, full-speed-ahead culture, introverts can lose out, feeling marginalized, their expertise overlooked.
Many introverts nevertheless lead a satisfying life, immersed in an activity that relies on their ability to be alone and to focus deeply on that activity, supported by those around them.
Others are not so lucky, perhaps hearing the question, “Why are you so quiet?” or “Why don’t you get out there with the others and have fun?” too often from those who are not introverts.
To add to the challenge, the area of the brain that is involved with fear and anxiety is more sensitive in introverts.
The result can be shyness, a form of social anxiety that is rising in the United States, with 50% of respondents admitting to being chronically shy (all of the time), and another 47% being situationally shy (shy in some situations).
Does this mean introverts are doomed to live stressful lives? No, it means that we (I’m including myself here) must lead mindful lives, actively searching for and creating those “Islands of Peace” our natures crave, and being firm and quietly assertive with others who would deny them to us. Saying, “I need time to reflect on this” when faced with an event or a request for an immediate decision is a real and an acceptable response.
And does this imply that extroverts don’t have stress? Not at all. Being a leader of people who are sitting there quietly without sharing their expertise can be unnerving, for example. Think about it next time you choose not to participate.