Share the limelight, extroverts

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

After 18 years of grueling life experiences, we finally became college students. But despite the changes in intellectual and emotional maturity that college demands, there are still certain social dynamics that followed us into our collegiate years and will follow us throughout our lives. Only two weeks into the semester, it’s already clear who the outspoken, reserved or funny students are. These natural dispositions come with an unbalanced wealth of social, professional and emotional implications as a result of stereotyping.

In most social, professional or academic settings, a funny, sociable and conversational disposition is often preferred to more reserved, introverted or contemplative demeanors. As a result, individuals with more reticent personalities are often written off, disregarded or simply forgotten. They’re unjustly disadvantaged.

The term privilege is often used in the discussion of social inequalities to describe unearned rights or advantages given to members of one group, while members of outside groups are not granted similar rights. It is often used in regard to privileges associated with race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or social class. However, this term can extend into emotional realms such as disposition.

Reserved personalities lack certain social privileges that more outgoing personalities are granted. In the classroom, teachers often overlook quieter students and look to students who regularly voice their thoughts, even though a more reserved student might have something more valuable to share. In the workplace, less expressive people might not be considered for tasks, even if the job has nothing to do with one’s sociability. In personal relationships, friends with more placid personalities might be disregarded or overshadowed by their more gregarious peers.

Ultimately, society’s preference of more outgoing personalities often works toward the detriment of the whole. In a class setting, fewer ideas are shared and fewer perspectives are represented in the conversation if only extroverted or naturally social students are given the opportunity to share. In a professional environment, more expressive people with less experience might receive opportunities that a quieter or more reserved individual might be far more qualified to complete. In regard to friendships or romances, potentially valuable relationships are left unexplored when reserved individuals, with whom one might be highly compatible, are overlooked.

To combat the issue, more outgoing individuals should work to be more conscientious of the way they interact in social settings, ensuring that they are providing more reserved individuals with the opportunity to communicate their thoughts. Concrete examples of this might include waiting a little longer to raise one’s hand in class, considering the talents of every candidate rather that those of the extroverted candidates exclusively, or directly asking a more quiet individual what they’re thinking.

Implementing these changes will have a two-sided social benefit: Quieter individuals will have more opportunities to contribute their ideas and talents, and more outgoing individuals will have the opportunity to be more contemplative, hear a broader variety of ideas and develop more refined and intentional social habits.