Introverts Anonymous

My name is Sarah, and I am an introvert. I am generally quiet, soft spoken and have little to say. Though I enjoy the company of close friends, I prefer solitude. When I’m in a large-group settings, I tend to stick to the sidelines and still find my energy quickly drained by such events.

Being an introvert isn’t a conscious choice. Most likely the result of both my biology and upbringing, I have always felt more comfortable on the sidelines, observing and analyzing. Even as a very young child, I was pensive, and often lost in the imaginary worlds I dreamed up. From very early on, I was known as the quiet one, but it wasn’t until about the 7th grade when it became clear that it was a bad thing. Like many introverts before me, my quietness was often misinterpreted by my peers as “antisocial”, “closed-off”, “snobby” or “aloof”. Since this realization, I saw my introversion as my most notable flaw.

I tried to appear as outgoing as my peers, but at the same time, adolescence kicked in and I also became very concerned about what other people thought of me (the combination adding yet another label to the mix: awkward!). While some accepted me for who I was, others were perplexed by my nature, and some were routinely insulted by it. As a result, I folded inwards and became even more introverted. My quietness continued to be a major source of insecurity through my teenage years, and even young-adulthood.

 

As a teenager, I was both shy and introverted. These terms are not synonymous. Shyness is a fear of social judgment, which can change as you become more comfortable with yourself. Introversion describes how you respond to mental and social stimulation. While extroverts thrive in environments with high amounts of stimulation, where they are surrounded by people, introverts thrive in low stimulation environments, in solitude or small groups.

After years of pushing myself to fit in, by trying to be ‘out there’ and take more risks, I have become more outgoing but lo and behold… I am still an introvert. I’ve come to understand that no amount of pushing myself out of my comfort zone will change the fact that most of the time I would rather listen than speak. No amount of socialization will change the fact that group settings exhaust me and the only way for me to recharge is to be alone for a while. Nothing will ever change the fact that where I feel most alive is here, with me, myself and a blank piece of paper.

After watching this TED talk by Susan Cain, it became clear to me that something is wrong with the way I have seen myself since junior high. Because we live in a society that values charisma and personality, I’ve made the assumption that extroversion is greater than introversion, but one is not inherently “better” than the other. As Cain states, there is zero correlation between great talkers and great ideas. Society needs introverted types as much as they need extroverts.

No matter how you identify yourself along the introversion-extroversion spectrum, you will do the world a favour simply by doing what feels natural and right to you. No one should feel like they need to change the core of who they are to fit into the current standard of popularity. Everyone should push themselves out of their comfort zones, whether that means daring to ‘speak up’ or daring to be ‘quiet’ once in a while. How about you be you, I’ll be me, and none of us take it personally?

My name is Sarah, and I am an introvert. Exclamation point.

This blog is in response to Susan Cain’s TED talk about ‘The Power of Introverts’. I highly recommend watching it. I haven’t read her book ‘Quiet’ yet, but it’s on my list!

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38 comments

  1. The Edge · · Reply

    Reblogged this on The Edge.

    1. I am so honoured! Thank you for sharing : )

  2. From one introvert to another, thank you! I enjoyed your post.

    Russ

    1. Thank you for stopping by! I love that more and more people are ‘coming out’ as introverts with pride. There are many of us out there!

  3. […] For about an eight-year span, I didn’t make any friends at all. Part of this was because of my introverted nature, and part of this was because of a very simple, yet prominent Universal truth that I didn’t […]

  4. I much prefer to be by myself but I am also an extrovert, not afraid of the crowd. Looking back in my life, most of the time when I go out, I am alone. It used to bother me but not anymore. I find that it gives me inner peace being alone than with among-st crowds of people. Wonderful post. By the way, thanks for the following. Will follow back. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your experience. It sounds like you’re an independent extrovert. That’s a great characteristic to have!

      1. Thanks for clearing it up!….All along, I taught I was introvert-extrovert..That gives my psyche a boost. 😉

      2. Most people have a bit of both in them. That’s not a bad thing! Carl Jung said that there are no pure introverts or extroverts; such people would be found in an insane asylum. : ) Have a great weekend!

  5. I am an introvert but you wouldn’t know it, as have been forced through life to act as an extrovert…that has helped. I loved your post and just sent it to my 14 year old daughter who is an extreme introvert….I hope it helps her.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I think there are many closet introverts out there. I don’t think I’ve been as successful at hiding my nature! What I loved about Susan Cain’s talk is that she made the point that introversion isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, the world needs introverts. I wish I had known all of this when I was 14. I can’t imagine how much more I could have done in high school if I understood what introversion was and that I didn’t need to pretend to be something different. Please tell your daughter to watch the video at the end of the post. It is so worth the 20 minutes!

  6. […] Introverts Anonymous (truthletsandthoughtbits.wordpress.com) […]

  7. […] Introverts Anonymous (truthletsandthoughtbits.wordpress.com) […]

  8. My name is Ben, and I’m an introvert… and I appreciate this wonderful post!

    Thank you for sharing this lecture, and for sharing your own story, your own thoughts. Peace and love!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Ben! It’s good to know that others relate to my story : ) Have a great week!

  9. This is Inion speaking and I just wanted to say how much I love your article. I’ve been an introverted person my whole life and society hasn’t been very accepting. My introverted ways made me a target for bullying in highschool, so it’s wonderful to see that I’m not alone. Thank you so much for this wonderful peice.

  10. Asifa · · Reply

    Am an introvert too… I too have such doubts often but now I guess that’s ok 🙂

    1. It is! Just be you : ) Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  11. Terrific post – you hit the nail on the head the whole darn way through. Have forwarded to my husband who is also an introvert 🙂
    anne

    1. Thank you so much for your kind compliment, and I appreciate the forward!

  12. I love the paragraph where you mention that no amount of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone or socialization will change your introverted nature. I so agree. I still do these things, because let’s face it, in this world we have to, but even though I may be better at it now that I’m older, it never feels comfortable.

    1. Yep, in my experience you can change shyness but not introversion. I read something the other day that people who identify as introverts actually have higher cortisol levels; a lot more internal stimulation going on in the brain, so at times, outside stimulation can be excessive and overwhelming. Makes sense to me, and now I don’t feel like such a weirdo!

      1. Yes, it’s nice when there’s a bit of science to back up what we’ve always suspected. 🙂

  13. […] Introverts Anonymous (truthletsandthoughtbits.wordpress.com) […]

  14. You have grasped the most critical factor. It is important to be comfortable with who you are. I have learned that you can never please all of the people all of the time, so it is just best to be you. Furthermore, someone who is as cautious as you are has more time to assess a situation and give an appropriate response. You are fine just the way you are.

    I have a post here you may want to check out. When you have a free moment, please go to http://essaykaywrites.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/ive-been-tagged-a-spider-web-game/) . I hope it brings you joy, and feel free to pass that joy around.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for the game link : )

  15. I’m both extrovert and introvert, which really throws people off LOL I tend to be quite extrovert at work – my job kinda requires it – but at home and in private I’m often quiet. I often feel nervous about meeting new people.

    Many moons ago, I did charity work and my area manager nominated me for an award. I had to go down to London, to this big, fancy “thank you” reception for all the nominees. I didn’t know a soul.

    No word of a lie, I sat in the corner, on my own, reading the charity’s financial statement for almost the entire evening. Someone came and chatted to me for a few minutes but that was because she saw me on my own and felt sorry for me LOL

    I honestly think I’d do the same thing again if I were in the same situation. This, despite the fact that I clown around and make people laugh at work.

    Perhaps it’s no wonder I’m getting a divorce, but hey, when you marry a Gemini…

    1. Ah, you’re an ambivert! You’ve got the best of both worlds, my friend. As Carl Jung said “there was no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert — such a man would be in a lunatic asylum.” While I can be outgoing, and publicly speak when I need to, I don’t think I’ve ever felt ‘recharged’ in a group setting like extroverts are… nope, definitely never experienced that phenomena, haha.

  16. Looks like a great read by an interesting and thoughtful author! Worth a read for those of us who are not introverts too 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing with us!

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I wasn’t too sure how extroverts would respond to this one, and I really appreciate the feedback!

  17. Absolutely fantastic blog post! I am an introvert and I am no longer a “young” adult. Once I get started in the “talking” category I am fine, but it takes the right person to come along to get me there. Thanks again! It was nice to be reminded to just be me, but continue to push pass my comfort zone when necessary. 🙂

    1. I’m the same way. I can be quite outgoing at times, but the energy of the people has to be right… all the stars have to be aligned haha. There must be some magic formula to it. Thank you so much for commenting!

  18. […] Introverts Anonymous (truthletsandthoughtbits.wordpress.com) Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestTumblrDiggStumbleUponEmailLinkedInRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  19. I totally here you on this. I grew up with people thinking I was snobby or rude, but really I was just very introverted- still am. I much prefer quiet nights in alone or with a couple friends than nights out and parties. I used to be self conscious about this as well but now I embrace it 🙂

    Great post. I will have to look for the book!

    1. It is good to know that I’m not alone. As introverts, we don’t often seek each other out and it can feel that way : ) Thank you for stopping by!

      1. I totally agree. The blogging world is so awesome- we can all find each other now 🙂

  20. Excellent talk…and you are going to love the book…it provides great insight into how we learn to “value” people.

    Be encouraged!

    1. I really related to her talk, so I can’t wait to read her book. Thanks for the feedback!

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