Introversion in the Classroom

how-to-piss-off-introvertsI have a confession to make. I am an introvert. 

Gasps, anyone? Maybe throw me a look of surprise? No? Well, I mean, I am on the internet. I do have a blog. I don’t talk about my crazy party life/post crazy party pictures.

But I party. I’m loud. The phrase I hear the most is “Shhh! We’re in a restaurant!” Although that may mean I’m constantly in restaurants—while that would not be a wrong assumption—it’s more the “shh” part we should focus on. When I tell people that I’m actually introverted or that I used to be a shy person (there’s a difference between introversion and being shy), the people I know in real life are actually surprised.

No, I will not post a crazy party picture for y’all. You should thank me because I tend to make huge ugly faces instead of the usual I’m-a-hot-bitch pictures.

Anyways, I’ve conquered being shy in most situations except for one. The classroom. Call me Asian, but that’s one place that I’m scared to offer my intellectual opinion, mostly because of my need to seem intellectual. And my teachers and professors always accepted it; I also accepted the slight dip in my grades due to low participation, call it my little retaliation on our extroverted society. It never bothered me.

Until last semester.

I see this incident as both the most negative and most positive defining moment of my life.

One of my English professors accused me, to my face, of plagiarism because my work was too high-leveled (graduate student quality, she said) for the “persona I cultivated in the classroom.” Basically, she didn’t believe that I wrote the response without help because I never participated in class. Uh, hello? Has she ever had an Asian student? That’s basically all we do, bro. We’re selfish, we don’t like sharing our intelligence.

It was a sucky experience because I couldn’t even bask in the backhanded compliment she was giving me! Graduate-level work? Well, color me flattered. It was also sucky because I was exposed to another world of my prestigious institution—the snobby professors.

But this semester, I really started learning my lesson. And for those of you who also have trouble participating in class discussions, I’ll give you some encouragement to try. Yes, although the first few times were mortifying and I still blush doing it, the reward far surpasses the price.

First of all, you’re more invested in the class. I don’t know if it’s the topics or if it’s my active participation this semester, but I love all my classes. I can’t wait to attend class, I can’t wait to discuss the readings with other people. It really rounds out your classes and gives it another dimension of enjoyment.

Of course, you’ll have to be extremely prepared for class every time you go. For introverts, or maybe just me, it’s hard to think of exactly what to say on the spot unless I know the reading inside and out—I know the arguments and have formed a semi-strong opinion about them.

The first few times, you’re going to say embarrassing things. For example, in my essay writing class, the professor was trying to remember some hilarious “some ecards” examples and I thought she was just talking about some e-cards. So I raised my hand and excitedly provided an example of how they have those holiday greeting cards now where you can slap your friends’ faces on them. A brief 30-minute pause followed what I said and I’m pretty sure most of the people thought I lived under the biggest rock. But, five minutes later, my hand was back up. Mostly because I wanted to redeem myself.

Yes, it will take more out of you and it will leave you drained by the end of the day, but it is so worth it.

So just give it a try!

Did you ever have trouble participating in class? What got you over it? 



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