Everyone that is or once was a high school student knows the pressures of this stage in life, and one of the biggest stressors is standing out in the extensive sea of students. This means living up to an ideal that many schools emphasize: leadership. Yet some introverted students question the idea that the characteristics that we typically value in “leaders” are really what make people that will cause change in society.
Schools, especially prestigious ones, want to see leaders when they look at college applications. In an interview with Forbes magazine’s James Marshall Crotty, former Yale University application reader Dr. Kat Cohen stated, “Get involved in a project or activity that deeply engages you. If that’s football, or chess, or the math club, or theater, or social work of some kind, it’s all good.”
This advice, however, can cause students to put up with more stress since the aim of these activities is seen to be to help them become better leaders. There is even a part of leadership that involves students’ social lives, and being popular between peers can burden a student even more.
“Being introverted frustrates me sometimes, especially when it comes to putting myself out for the world,” stated an anonymous source who answered a JSR questionnaire distributed at the American School of Guadalajara in Mexico. “It feels like the confidence in an extroverted person is idolized by our peers.”
It can seem that extroverts have a easier time attracting followers as they take the initiative to expose their ideas to the world, while introverts struggle with having people recognize their work. Being left in the shadows is a big stressor for introverts. Society has made us think that boisterous confidence is what it takes to be a leader, but this can discourage people who are not naturally inclined to be that kind of person.
When Daniela Sandoval, another student at the American School, was asked by JSR to define a leader, she said, “A person is a leader when they aren’t afraid to take initiative, whether it is through silence or outspoken protests.”
“I think telling someone introverted that being the way they are is not going to work if they want to be leaders is wrong,” stated another anonymous source when asked by the survey if she felt that introverted people are overlooked by society.
“We should [find] the qualities in a person that would make them be a change in the world,” the source continued, “and give them a chance.”