Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Extrovert's Nightmare

Imagine that it's your freshman year of college and you're just waking up in your single dorm room. It's 9:00 a.m. and dead silent.  No one plays music here, or talks too loud, and even if they did, your walls are soundproof.  You've made some close friends in your dorm and have had some fun times together, but you wish you saw more of them.  Everyone on campus lives with their doors closed and spends a lot of time doing their own thing.  They socialize with you when they want to, but it just isn't enough for you.  You leave your door open hoping someone will come in and talk to you, but everyone either ignores you or stares at you like you're weird. Why would anyone come to college and leave their door wide open? You're missing out on the experience of being alone!

You review your housing application for next year, in which you practically beg for a roommate, but you know the chances are slim.  Your school was designed for people who are okay living alone.  While it's a known fact that there are many others like you who would love to have a roommate, there are nowhere near enough double rooms to accommodate all of you, and your chances of getting a triple or quad are close to zero.  It would be so much fun to live in a quad, but every time you find three friends who are interested, they always find a "better deal" with two double rooms instead.  You are probably the only student on campus who would rather live in a suite with more roommates than in a regular room with fewer. 

You head to class, where you're always bored out of your mind.  You think back to elementary school, when you could answer questions and go to the blackboard and work in groups.  But every class at your college is a lecture with no participation, because that's what learning is about.  You feel so trapped at your desk that you begin to hate even the subjects you once loved.

Lunch time rolls around. You take a seat with a few of your closest friends and share personal stories.  You love your friends, but sometimes the intense one-on-one conversations tire you out. Sometimes it just gets boring.  Sometimes you wish people liked to hang out with larger groups.

You do your homework, then head to ultimate Frisbee practice, band rehearsal, and a student council meeting.  Your friends can't believe that you do so many things. Almost everyone you know has only one or two things that they're focused on, and plenty of students don't do any activities.  You like being busy, but whenever you mention how much you do, you get the same comments: "How can you do all that?" "Aren't you spreading yourself too thin?" "You really should think about quitting something!"  If someone mentions a campus event and you express interest in going, it's always, "You're gonna do that too???" A day doesn't go by that you don't get pressured to quit an activity, not go to an event, or to put personal time at the top of your list.

You catch your friends at dinner to see what's up for the weekend, which is often a disappointment to you.  It's no use saying that you want to go to bigger events and meet more people, because they just call you monophobic - someone who is afraid of being alone.  Everyone calls you monophobic when you discuss these feelings. You explain that you're not afraid of being alone - you just don't enjoy it, but no one understands.  Everyone just tells you to try again, to get out of your comfort zone and really try to have fun by yourself. And every time you tell them that you had no fun at all, they say you weren't trying hard enough.

You may never have experienced a day like this, in college or otherwise, but plenty of people live the reverse of this every day.  This is what a typical day would be like if introverts ruled our culture, the same way that extroverts do now.

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