[Nov. 2016 Opinions] The not so great perks of being a wallflower

By Amelia Brown ’18


You walk through the halls to your next class, saying hi to a few people on the way. Once you sit down at your desk, a friend comes over and you talk until the bell. During class, you raise your hand a few times to make sure you get your participation grade. You meet with your group to finish a presentation. The bell rings. Repeat seven more times. That is an extraordinary amount of socialization and human interaction in one day, especially for introverts like myself. With the growing push for collaboration and class participation, we introverts are being left to fend for ourselves (and while normally we like being alone, this is an exception).

There are a lot of misconceptions about introverts, so let me clear things up right off the bat. By definition, being an introvert means that after socializing, we need quiet time by ourselves to think and re-charge. Basically, it’s physically and mentally exhausting to be around other people.

Now, school is exhausting for everyone just based on the fact that it starts so early. But for an introvert, constantly being surrounded by noise and people makes it extra hard to get through without a nap. I understand that there’s no way for the school to enforce a silent passing time or create individual classes, but changing the way group work and participation play into each day would be beneficial to introverted students.  

Question: What is an introvert’s kryptonite? Answer: Group work. Working with others is an important skill, and, most of the time, the problem isn’t with the people in the group. It’s just that I’m pretty sure group projects were created by an extrovert with the intention of causing mental anguish to introverts.  

My freshman year social studies teacher gave my class a choice to work with a partner on a presentation or work alone on an essay. Guess who was the only one to write an essay? And the thing is, I was so happy to just be able to get out of group work that I didn’t mind doing the less fun and more difficult assignment.

Even big companies are starting to focus more on creating a better environment for their introverted workers. As reported by The Economist, Amazon now requires each meeting to start in silence as everyone reads the memo, focusing more on knowledge rather than participation. Hint, hint.

In bigger groups, like, oh, I don’t know, an entire class, it takes an enormous amount of effort for an introverted person to be social while thinking, especially since, “you may focus a good deal of your energy on your own inner world,” according to Susan Whitbourne in her Psychology Today article about how introverts think. To vocalize our thoughts to other people is not something that comes as naturally as it does to extroverts. Having either written participation check-ins, or not having participation grades at all would even the playing field.