Illustration by Gulsim Azirakhmet

The Power of Introverts

What is the meaning and purpose of assigning people personality characteristics based on how they socialize? Perhaps it is to form communities or to discriminate. In any way, there is a power hidden in our ability to embrace them.

Apr 9, 2023

In an effort to understand where we fit in a world that constantly bombards us with information about ourselves, we grew up taking online personality tests. From MBTI, enneagram, or even the BuzzFeed quizzes telling you what kind of fruit you are, we have been raised in a world where we have to fit into certain boxes and tick specific requirements. However, one of the most notorious methods of categorizing oneself is by determining whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. Because of my ability to talk a lot while I’m around others but also be lively and energetic at any necessary moment, I have immediately been labeled an extrovert. I fit the mold. It was only when I came to understand the nuances of introversion and extroversion, and what it means to be either that I finally gained a clearer understanding of myself. These labels were first produced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the 1920s, and he labeled introverted people as ones that gain energy from being alone while extroverted people are those that are fulfilled when around others. We now understand that humans exist on a spectrum and that no one is completely one or the other. So why is one villainized and the other praised?
In the wake of hustle culture and toxic productivity, every waking moment needs to be filled with an exciting new endeavor or something that further benefits your work, academic, or social life. A weekend at a party could be where you find your next business partner or lifelong partner. You need to be actively putting yourself out there, talking to as many people as you can, and building a network of people so large that you will never be able to get through all of them. Still, they are there regardless. Being social is not only expected; it is the only acceptable way to exist if you want to achieve anything in your life, or if you want to have stories to tell your future children and grandchildren. If you’re sitting at home watching a TV show, what are you ever going to post about on social media? Especially as a teenager or young adult, you are perceived as strange if you do not go out with your friends every weekend or if you do not take every opportunity to get off the NYUAD campus. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I sometimes even find it difficult to muster up the energy and emotional capacity to sit in D2 while having a meal. As somebody who has witnessed both the benefits and downfalls of being an introvert, I want to share them with you.
If you do view yourself as an introvert, here are some of the most famous introverts for you to relate to when the world tells you that it’s a negative trait: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Meryl Streep, Warren Buffet, and Emma Watson. So, if anything, you will also likely be rich and famous one day! It is crucial to tackle the aforementioned misconceptions about introverts, and this job should be made easier by these celebrities. A 2008 study discovered that introverts take longer to process information than extroverts, but this is because they process information more thoughtfully. Introverts can also be better listeners because of this increased processing time. This also allows them to choose their words more carefully and ensure that their words have an impact. This makes them the people we go to rant about our days or when we have good news to share. They are the caring best friends that you have or the loving partners; the thoughtful networkers and the compassionate leaders. This does not mean that extroverts do not share these qualities; it is simply stating that they might come more naturally to introverts.
Therefore, whether you classify yourself as an introvert, extrovert, ambivert, or anything in between, you are powerful, and you have qualities that the rest of the world can admire. We need every type of personality, every MBTI, cupcake icing, or Harry Potter character that BuzzFeed decides you are. It is also important to recognize that people are nuanced, and just because society has compartmentalized us and placed us into digestible categories, it does not mean that we need to stick to them, or that they are universally true. Personalities should ebb and flow, and you deserve the space to change throughout your life. Do not be scared to break these boxes.
Dana Mash Ai is Deputy Columns Editor. Email her at
gazelle logo