Thursday, March 27, 2014

Extroverted España

I have always sort of reveled in my introversion. While I am quite social and enjoy interaction with my friends and other people, it is during alone time that I gather my energy, process my thoughts, and feel totally comfortable. Being an introvert has enabled me to write, to read a ton and to be able to live on my own with happiness and peace (relatively speaking..). I have always relished in my alone time, and for me it is necessary in order to live out my busy, interactive days successfully here in Spain. If I ask many people back home, they will agree with me that introversion is an essential component to a functional social life. 

I have noticed slightly different behaviors and attitudes towards introversion here. In English, there is an expression, 'still waters run deep.' I was explaining this idiom to a fellow co-worker recently, and they right away said that this expression would never exist in Spanish. A person who is quiet and calm would not be regarded as someone interesting or intellectual or thoughtful, rather, only strange. When I held parent-teacher meetings for some of my students, I was advised NOT to use the word shy (timido/a) to describe the student, even if in the nicest way. This, I was told, would probably be taken as an insult to both the parent and the child. I found this kind of strange.

This got me thinking, are there any shy Spaniards out there? I realized that everyone I know is quite extroverted. Even among the high school students there doesn't seem to be anyone who is on the introverted side, more reserved, quiet, etc. Has the negative connotation with this personality type in both language and culture affected how people act? Have other aspects of the country molded extreme extroversion? Or am I overlooking an entire population of introverts?

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