Hello I'm an Introvert!
Hello I'm an Introvert and Proud of It!
I wrote a post some weeks ago for Health Central entitled, How to Win Friends and Influence People When You are a Depressed Introvert.
This topic seemed to really resonate with so many people so I thought I would expand upon the theme. The wonderful thing about writing here on this site is that I quite often get back a lot more than I give. The comments I had received from all of you helped me in a lot of ways. So many of you expressed the idea of accepting oneself and this includes accepting our own unique personality traits. I think that acceptance is ultimately the way to promote good self esteem. Although this can prove difficult for introverts, who are a minority in our extroverted world. Jonathon Rauch, in his article, Caring for Your Introvert, estimates that only 25% of the general population is comprised of us introverts. So it isn't your imagination that we seem to be the odd man out. Introverts are clearly outnumbered by our extroverted neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Being in the minority sometimes means that we are made to feel inferior for things that are just part of our personality.
I remember when I was a little girl visiting my uncle who is an extrovert. He was getting ready to introduce me to his neighbors and prefaced his introduction by saying this about me as I stood there, "She might not talk much. She is slow to warm up." To this day I feel stung by his words. Growing up I felt like something was wrong with me because I was shy. Then there was the time in high school when I went for a sleep over at a friend's house. She was the kind of friend who always thought more was better as in being surrounded by more people. Having just me over seemed to not be enough and she wanted to call more friends to come over. I remember feeling bad about myself and I asked her if we could just spend time together without others around. Her retort was sharp and mean, "You are so boring! What is wrong with you?"
And throughout my life I have wondered if, indeed, there was something wrong with me because of my shyness. I have been told things like:
"You think too much."
"Why are you so serious?"
"You are too sensitive."
"You are too intense."
So in other words, some people wanted me to be a shallow, insensitive smiley chit chatterer. Seems humorous when you turn the words around.
Being an introvert doesn't weigh me down, it is putting up with the negative and hurtful opinions of my personality which is the hard part. It does get a little easier when you are an adult and have more choices but still the pressure is there to conform and be a super social butterfly. The notion of success is still rooted in some mythological personality type which may not even exist. Even extroverts have their share of interpersonal troubles.
Speaking of success, let's debunk the myth that introverts cannot be successful. Here is just a short list of famous introverts which include: Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, David Letterman, Diane Keaton, Steve Martin, Jacqueline Kennedy, Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln.
Some introverts write books such as Elizabeth Wagele who celebrates being an introvert and has written a book called, "The Happy Introvert: A Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self. There is another book emphasizing the positive aspects to introversion and is called "The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World" and is written by Marti Laney, PsyD. You may find this author's web site describing this advantage here.
Have you ever wondered which states have the most introverts? I found this interesting statistic that the most introverted states in the United States are Maryland, New Hampshire, Alaska, Washington, and Vermont. I wonder if weather or climate has something to do with our temperaments.
There are numerous resources to read about introversion and here is an excellent site which lists many of these resources for you to pursue.
In researching this topic and in talking to others who are also introverts I have come to the conclusion that the world does need us. The world needs thinkers who are passionate about their ideas. The world does need more people who can quietly focus on projects with a fierce intensity. There is nothing wrong with being serious and responsible. I say it is a good thing to be reflective and to think before speaking. What is so bad about wanting alone time before and after engaging in social events? Is it so bad to relish one on one time with people instead of the desire to be surrounded by a crowd? Is it so bad to enter social situations with a little caution? Is it so wrong to favor peacefulness and tranquility over chaos and crowds? I think it is time to embrace those qualities inherent in being an introvert as good qualities.
Being shy or introverted is not an aberration to be fixed or transformed. I have no desire to become an extrovert nor do I have the capacity to become one. But I can be the best me that I can be. And that means that I accept myself as I am, shyness and all. I am an introvert and proud of it!