“You’re so quiet”, “Are you okay?”, “You’re not chatty enough”, “You need to speak up”.
If you’re an introvert (like me), you’ve probably heard these phrases, and many more, countless times. You probably also have felt pressured to always explain that you’re not “anti-social”, you’re not that shy and you’re not rude. You don’t prefer to be alone, you just prefer to be left alone. Not everyone understands that, especially our extroverted brethren who try desperately to pull you out of your “shell” and get you to be as extroverted as them.
I just want to set the record straight and speak for all the misunderstood introverts out there. I’m not shy and I’m not quiet, whatever that means. I speak when I have something to say and most of the time I’m so consumed with my thoughts and ideas and processing feelings that talking would interrupt that. I hate small talk and small talk usually goes like this, “how are you”, “how’s it going”, “the weather is nice”, “how’s your job”, and so forth. I would much rather use my energy to discuss important matters, things that are relevant and topics that interest me. It’s a struggle for me to carry on in small talk and it’s usually uncomfortable and annoying which I why I don’t like talking on the phone either. I’m not anti-social, which is a term that is so misused. Anti-social personality disorder is characterized by lack of empathy or a disregard for the well-being of others – that’s not me. I’m a social worker. And back to the quiet thing, what am I supposed to do? Run around yelling?! I just chill, observe, watch and listen. I process and process some more and then if I have something to share I will. Period.
And to clear up the shy thing – shyness is about fear of social judgement. Introversion is more about how you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. Extroverts crave a lot of social stimulation, whereas introverts (like me) gain stimulation and energy in quieter, more low-key environments. I can be shy in certain situations, but I don’t consider myself to be shy person.
Sometimes I find myself getting jealous of my husband and friends who are extroverts because their personality type is more favorable and valued especially in the work world. They are able to make quick, assertive decisions, they usually have infectious enthusiasm, they are creative and outgoing. Just like my husband, they are natural born salespeople. That sounds great doesn’t it?! Well, in a world that never stops talking there’s a place for introverts too, we’re the listener. Introverts are creative as well, reflective and cooperative. Introverts, with their soft spoken authoritativeness, make just as great of leaders as do extroverts.
“Are you an introvert? Good for you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Are you tired of trying to hide your “disorder”? Me too. I would love to be able to snap my fingers and have the world value us instead of trying to call us disordered. Unfortunately that is not likely to happen any time soon. Do I think introversion is bad for your health? No. Do I think being forced to work in an extroverted environment is? Yes.”
For my fellow introverts out there who often struggle with having to explain why you are the way you are, question whether you are normal or not, or fight yourself trying to be an extrovert, I just want to encourage you to first accept the way you are. I honestly thought I was crazy after hearing countless times how “quiet” I am and being asked if I’m okay. I learned that I am an introvert and that I operate differently and once I understood I was able to accept it. If you try to change who you are or force yourself to be something you are not, it’s only going to get exhausting and you’ll only hurt yourself in the end. We need our downtime and alone time for a reason. Enjoy it. If you work in a high energy atmosphere remember to give yourself breaks throughout the day to recharge. It sounds crazy to many, but it’s real. And one thing I had to learn is to be happy with who I am and stand up for myself. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about being “quiet” (I hate that) or pressure you into being as extroverted as they are. The great benefits of being an introvert don’t come from faking extroversion. They come from honoring yourself, knowing what’s best for you, and living that as much as possible. Be true to yourself and you’ll find being an introvert is not nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. You’re not crazy, anti-social or weird. You’re an introvert – be proud.
Here are some funny memes to help you feel better about yourself:
If you’re an introvert let me know what you think. What are some things that annoy you?
Until next time…