The Challenge of Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Culture
When I grew up in America in the 1950s-60s, it was pretty obvious to me when I entered school that the really strong part of me that was introverted was not valued or encouraged in any way. Really I remember being really comfortable with myself before entering school and then suddenly being overwhelmed with needing to be an extrovert. American culture is about being an extrovert and not an introvert. My stronger nature was to be very calm and go into the internal world, but the pressure of the culture was always be more extroverted. I should have had meditation classes, but instead, when I wouldn’t talk to people, I was labeled shy. If the opposite were true, then I would have been ok while the extroverts would have been labeled loud and rude which is how Americans are usually perceived in many other cultures.
It wasn’t until I first landed in a different culture, a First Nations Reserve in Alberta, Canada, that I felt validated for being able to easily go into the inner world. It is place that is easy for me to go to. I can spend long hours there easily with no problem. And it is not like I don’t like the outer world. I love doing a lot of things with others. I am not saying that one is better than the other, nor am I saying that you can give the excuse of not being social because you are introverted or not being calm and reflective because you are an extrovert. Life requires big doses of both, but I think that in America it is much harder to be an introvert than an extrovert. And I think that this has something to do with the cultural fear about going inside and exploring the inner world. I cannot usually talk to too many people about what I can do in the inner world. I have to hold back about what I share because many people automatically are very resistant to it, a little bit like you are anti-religious or anti-American.
I am really not aiming this post at extroverts. I love you guys because you make life fun and enjoyable. I appreciate you for that. I am hoping to reach a few introverts who have extraordinary inner powers that no one is going to teach you about at home or in school, that you may even feel are wrong or demonic. The inner world is waiting.
In the next post I will discuss the dynamics of going inward with some easy tips.