The challenges of being an introvert are derived directly from the fact that much of the western and industrialized world emphasizes extroverted behavior. Susan Cain speaks on behalf of introverts living in the world of extroverted bias, “Our most important institutions, our schools and our work places, they are designed mostly for extroverts and for extroverts' need for lots of stimulation.”
Extroversion is reinforced constantly in this atmosphere. College campuses reward students who attend social gatherings put on by residential advisers. High schools give badges and shiny things for students who excel in extracurricular activities that involve being around many other like minded individuals. Companies and businesses put on social events for their employees and popularity and opportunities rest on attending such gatherings. Introverts, are commonly forgotten. Friends call and ask, “What's wrong, why aren't you at such and such event?” And employees talk behind backs saying, “I think that person is a loner, they just don't like people, they're a hermit.” Immediately, the introvert is set aside.
With such intense pressure to conform and be active in such activities, the introvert begins to feel that there is something wrong with their way of life. This life including things like painting, playing music, writing, reading, learning, going on long walks by oneself, pondering things no one else would dare to think while peacefully far away from the rest of the world's incessant demands. It is easy to see the introvert's conflict. They need time to be alone to reflect, but the second they take time to themselves, the extroverted world starts becoming concerned that the introvert has locked up all their feelings and will never come out of their hermit world. And when this occurs, the introvert becomes bombarded with concerns from friends, family, co-workers and before long, people think the introvert has become severely depressed. “They don't want to hang out with anyone.” Something is definitely wrong.
This view of wrongness often manifests in the diagnosis of depression. The criteria for depression includes well known introverted traits. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illness reads, "depression is marked by, “markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)” Here it is important to note that this criteria for diagnosis is based on other people's subjective perceptions. An introvert may still be interested in doing his own thing, but to others, this may come off as diminished interest in, “extroverted” things. How can the extroverted dominated world know the introvert is still interested in things when they do those things by their lonesome?
Another problem comes from the criteria for diagnoses, “depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others” – The stress put on introverts to conform to the extroverted world can easily lead to a feeling of draining and emptiness. The introvert's personality is in complete conflict with the extroverted world as introverts get energized by being alone. The pressure to be out and about with people forces the introvert into a state that is empty. And empty can feel a lot like sad especially when everyone is feeling sorry for the introvert because he wnts some alone time.
Introverts, because of these criteria, are diagnosed more frequently for depression. This goes against the arguments that attest introversion and depression are genetically linked. Depression and introversion are linked because of the social components. They are not linked because of genetics.
It's not easy being an introvert living in an extroverted world. Introverts are exposed to over-stimulation and are left to feel like outsiders because of their inherit desire to drift freely in their own minds apart from other people. Revenge of the Introvert from Psychology Today reads, “Introverts would rather be entertained by what's going on in their heads than in seeking happiness. Their big challenge is not to feel like outsiders in their own culture.”