“If your natural preference is introversion or you’re on the border, you learn to be extroverted because that’s what’s expected.”
There are about 750,000 fraternity and sorority members in college and more than nine million alumni in the United States, and 42% of Tulane students participate in Greek life. New Orleans holds over 130 festivals per year, even not to mention the well-known Mardi Gras every year that attracts tourists all over the world. The social media users in America reached approximately 4.2 billion in 2021, which is about 82% of the U.S. population. All these data indicate how much American love social gatherings.
Under the extraversion popularity in American society, where extraversion is valued, the image of introversion is always related to shyness, lack of assertion, and not being sociable. Introverts are also usually depicted in a negative way or as marginal characters in American popular culture. For instance, Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory is an introvert that generally works alone and stays in a small friend group. He is depicted as an “outsider” both in school and the workplace because he lacks interpersonal skills. He rarely stands in others’ shoes and only focuses on his own thoughts. When people adopt the society that “extraversion is better” becomes comprehensively rooted, they will reject being treated as “outsiders” as introverts by avoiding spending time alone. Many Americans feel uncomfortable and anxious when they are alone because they would thus feel they waste their time based on their negative perspective on being alone and being introverted.
Audubon Park is a place that allows one to stay alone, without judgment from “the extraversion world.”. Audubon Park is within a five-minute walk from the Tulane campus. Crossing over St. Charles and the three blocks of parked cars trying to be sideswiped by the constant traffic, the park’s entrance opens into a space where the sound of water instead of engines is heard. Bikers, walkers, and joggers circle around on the 1.8-mile walking path that surrounds a middle field full of green. The trees, the grass, and people playing golf on it. Walking down the alley, the crowd is left behind. The sloping lawn hides a different side of Audubon Park. The 20-feet willows block the view of people on the main walking path, creating a natural shelter for the lawn. It is grass designed for golf, but usually, there is no one playing there because it is close to a pond. The pond is about the size of a kindergarten playground, and it reflects the surrounding trees and grass like a mirror. If there is no sunshine and wind to make the surface sparkle, the reflection could disguise it as the natural landscape.
This spot allows people on the sloping side to see others on the main avenue and people playing golf on other hills about 300 feet away, while others cannot see in a back way because the pond is downward. Thus, this lawn does not put the pressure on socialising like a fraternity party, and it is people’s own choice to go to socialise or not because they get the initiative. socializing is not the primary goal.
However, is being alone and being an introvert that terrible that people tend to avoid? Does the depiction of introverts reflect what introversion is? In fact, introversion and extroversion is not a binary system in which one is either introvert or extrovert. It is rather a spectrum that everyone falls into a different percentage combination of introversion and extroversion. People should also understand the true definition of introversion, instead of mixing introversion with shyness or lack of assertiveness which is addressed by popular culture. Introversion is how people respond to stimulation, including social stimulation, while shyness is a fear of social judgment. In addition, introversion does not necessarily connect with a lack of interpersonal social skills. The difference between introversion and extraversion is how socialisation functions in their lives. For introverts, socializing is energy consumption; in contrast, extroverts gain energy from socialising. Since socialising consumes too much power, introverts may not be socially active in large-scale social occasions but more involved in socializing in intimate settings. In other words, introverts may be quiet and listen to others’ conversations at drinking games at parties, but they could talk for three hours in a one-to-one meeting. Since the small-sized conversation cannot open up to more people, the false expression of an introvert cannot socialise spread by only seeing the taciturn side of introverts. It also takes time for introverts to open up, and their charms can be seen when they do so.
In Audubon Park, people get the freedom to recharge from daily life by sitting down on the grass, staring at the sky, and maybe deciding to lay down, giving body and mind to nature. Time slows down, and even one second can be long enough for a film going through. In Audubon Park, socialising may become unnecessary and even disturb people who are connecting to nature. This is a place where shared space, the whole park, and private space are appreciated. The blue of the sky collided with the green of the grass, providing visual pleasure to calm down. Nature has the power of calming because it has a therapeutic effect that relieves stress and restores attention. Nature is also associated with a pleasant experience that allows people to escape from the busy and noisy crowd. Around nature, being alone can bring benefits and be appreciated. People can generate the feeling of detachment from daily life, and have the opportunity to step back, clarify thoughts, hopes, dreams, and desires. No matter extrovert or introvert, Audubon Park would be there. It makes no difference to nature, and nature would embrace and recharge everyone.
The Korean observational reality show MBTI Inside gathers sixteen people with sixteen different MBTI personalities to live together for five days and gives a prize to the winner who gets the most ‘like’ votes at the end of this journey. Three people won the award, and two of them belonged to introverts. Introverts can be popular, and there will be someone finding out. Go to a place where you feel peace in mind like Audubon Park and enjoy the wonderful self-time with nature. This place is free of mandatory socialisation and stereotypes about introversion. Give yourself time to explore yourself truly. Nature will tell you: it is fine to be introverted.