Principal Hardy started off our February 6 assembly with a question – more accurately, a series of questions. He asked students and staff to consider whether they:
- Prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities
- Like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members
- Do their best work on their own
- Dislike small talk, but enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to them
- Prefer to express themselves in writing
“Did you answer ‘yes’ to four or five of these questions?” Principal Hardy asked. “If so, you’re probably what is called an introvert.”
The concept of introversion has recently gained increased attention due to the bestselling non-fiction book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. The book explores the North American emphasis on extroversion, the negative connotations that often accompany introversion, and how being an introvert can actually work to one’s advantage in many situations. According to Cain, about one-third of people are introverts.
“Calling someone ‘shy’ is often perceived as an insult,” Principal Hardy said, “when really it’s just a different type of personality.” As psychologist Carl Jung first described, introversion and extroversion are about where one draws their energy from; extroverts gain energy through interaction with others, while introverts draw energy from within. Susan Cain advances this idea by illustrating why introverts prefer less stimulating environments and why extroverts prefer more stimulating environments. Ambiverts – those in the middle of the spectrum – can be comfortable in both kinds of environments.
“This idea ties into Greenwood’s goal of developing the whole person,” Principal Hardy said. “As you move forward in life, you will need to be both an introvert and an extrovert at different times. It’s important for introverts to learn to be a part of big, high-energy events, like our Spirit Week, just as it’s important for extroverts to learn to take time for quiet reflection.”
Principal Hardy also emphasized that many famous and accomplished individuals, such as Barack Obama, Gandhi, and Meryl Streep, are introverts. “Being introverted won’t stop you from being a powerful politician, or a successful businessperson, or an accomplished actor,” he said.
Whether our students and staff are introverted or extroverted, they’re a valued part of the Greenwood community. “There’s a place for everyone here,” Principal Hardy said, “regardless of your personality type.”