When I was young, people used to ask me, “Why are you so quiet?” I used to hate it. What are you supposed to say to that? What could they possibly want me to say? All these years later I still don’t know.
What is an introvert?
I’ve always been a quiet, shy introvert. I say that because there is a difference between being quiet and shy and an introvert.
Being quiet means that you don’t talk a lot. Being shy means that you are afraid to talk. Being an introvert means that you recharge by spending time alone, or with a small group of people, like one or two usually.
Not all introverts are quiet or shy. Some love people and love to be around people. But they recharge by being by themselves. That’s the important thing to remember when thinking about extroverts vs introverts.
A world made for extroverts
It’s important for us, as introverts, to embrace our introversion and celebrate it. This probably feels like a whole new concept, because from a young age most of us are told that we need to change, that we are wrong for being quiet and wanting to spend time alone.
When I was young, I loved school. I loved the learning part. I hated the socialization aspect. Every time I walked into class and it started with “Ok, get into pairs,” or “choose a group to work with,” I would look around wanting to die. I often asked if I could do the whole project by myself. It didn’t work most of the time though.
Because I was so shy and quiet, I never really had a go to group of friends to pair up with. I was usually the one that was left over that was either forced to join another group or worked with the teacher. I hated being singled out that way as well.
When I got to college we had whole classes designed around group projects. If the group you were assigned to didn’t get along, it was your problem and you had to work it out. It was like some kind of purgatory.
Looking back it was good life experience though. I have been in that situation at work so many times. It’s something that comes up over and over again. Not only have I had to work on group projects at work, but I have been forced to work in an open office environment with so many people and so much noise that it is impossible to concentrate on anything. I go home feeling drained just from all of the chaos all day long.
So much of our society is made for people who like people and who thrive in situations around people. Our world was designed for extroverts, by extroverts who never took the time to think about the fact that there are other people in the world who are not like them. People who don’t like noise and distraction. People who work better by themselves than in groups. People who connect with others one on one rather than in large groups.
As a result, those of us who are introverted grow up being told that we are wrong for liking things quiet. We are broken for not wanting to have a whole bunch of friends. We are messed up because we don’t like to go out every single night.
But the thing is, we are not wrong. We are not broken. We are not messed up. We are different. And there is nothing wrong with being different. Nothing.
How do you embrace your introversion?
The first step is to accept that you are introverted. You don’t need to change for anyone. It is perfectly fine to stay home on a Saturday night rather than to go out. It’s ok to read a book rather than talk on the phone. There is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect just the way that you are.
Once you have that realization that you are not broken then you can start to set boundaries with people who try to tell you that you are wrong or try to force you to do things that you aren’t happy about.
Setting a boundary means that you are able to say no to things that don’t serve you and stand behind that. You don’t have to bend over backwards to please the people around you, but you are willing to stand up for what you need instead.
There is a sweet relief that comes from not trying to please everyone. It’s so nice to know what you can go home and enjoy your free time rather than having to do something all the time to keep up. It’s also nice to be able to embrace the things that make you happy, like writing and painting and reading.
More than anything, I hope the message that you take away from this post and from everything that I write is that it’s ok to be you. You are enough! You are lovable and amazing just the way that you are. You don’t need to change to be accepted and understood. You don’t need to be more talkative or have more friends or open up if you don’t want to. You are perfect just the way that you are.