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Dr. Jennifer B. Bernstein

(516) 362-1929

How to Make Your Introversion or Extroversion Work to Your Advantage (Part 1)

Did you know that “the vast majority of teachers report believing that the ideal student is an extrovert as opposed to an introvert,” despite the fact that introverts earn better grades?

Do you really know what makes someone an introvert or extrovert?

Are you curious about how you can tap into the positive qualities of your personality traits and use them to your advantage in the college preparation and application process?

Then, allow me to introduce you to a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School who’s published what’s been described as a “potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit to both introverts and extroverts alike” (Kirkus).

Her name is Susan Cain.

I first discovered Cain about a year ago when I heard her NPR interview, which inspired me to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Lately, many students (those in my Get Yourself Into College® program as well as ones in my college literature classes) have been confessing that they feel their “quietness” is a flaw.

It’s painful for me to listen to bright, insightful students tell me they feel there’s something wrong with them.

Unfortunately, though, these feelings are fairly common among introverts.

According to Cain, our culture’s “bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain,” and, in her TED talk, she describes how frequently she “got the message that somehow [her] quiet and introverted style of being was not necessarily the right way to go” (6).

So what can we do about this situation?

Understanding what makes someone an introvert or extrovert is important.

Cain offers a useful summarization of psychologist Carl Jung’s definition of these terms:

“Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling. . .[and] extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough” (10).

 Introversion and shyness are not the same.  As Cain observes:

“Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.  Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not” (12).

This distinction is important.

If you’re not expressing yourself because you’re suffering from an overwhelming fear of judgment, then it’s probably a good idea to work through this trepidation.

However, if you’re quiet because you tend to introversion, you need to learn how to respect this part of yourself and work with it, not against it.

Curious about yourself?

Take Cain’s “Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or Extrovert?”

Both introverts and extroverts will find Cain’s “The Power of Introverts” talk illuminating, so give yourself a few minutes to enjoy it.

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK’S BLOG.  We’ll be covering specific strategies introverts and extroverts can use to excel in high school, college, and beyond.



Blog post image used: ©wrangler/