Psyche: “Life as an introvert is rarely easy. Ever since I graduated, I’ve been compelled to work in open-plan offices. It’s exhausting. Imagine being engaged in a task that requires high concentration, such as looking for a lost earing in the middle of a tennis court. Now imagine that an automatic ball launcher keeps shooting balls directly at you. Wouldn’t you get tired quickly, and be much less efficient in your search? This is how I feel during my work, when sudden and repeating distractions are ‘shot’ at or near my desk. The struggle of an introvert doesn’t end in the office. Networking at conferences, some with thousands of attendees, is a central part of an academic career. Picture yourself entering a huge hall, with bright neon lights, hundreds of people in each aisle, and a background din that forces you to yell to be heard. In a typical two-hour poster session, you’re expected to acquire the information you need while also efficiently introducing your own work to colleagues. As an introvert, the experience is equal to riding a terrifying rollercoaster while having to maintain a big smile on your face…Today, as a psychologist, I know that introversion is a common trait. Unlike shyness, which is more about a fear of being judged negatively, introversion is defined as a preference for quiet, less stimulating environments. The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung was the first to propose differentiating individuals along an introvert-extravert axis. Writing in the 1920s, he described introverts as preferring to direct their attention inward, to their own feelings and thoughts, and how they lose energy during social interactions. Extraverts, by contrast, direct their attention outward, gain energy from social interactions, and lose energy during periods of solitude…”
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