I’m Just Introverted

Introverts always seem to be the square peg in a round hole. We need to change that, understanding and not judgement will move the needle.

Why are introverted people made to hold the shame of being who they are? Maybe not all introverted people carry the guilt of being one, but I know I have. When I discovered that I was introverted, I almost felt diseased. I felt like in a world filled with noisy extraverts; I was the party-pooper, the silent oddball, or the Debbie Downer. I’m none of those, I’m just introverted!

Why are introverts so misunderstood?

There are all kinds of reference materials out there for us introverts to consume. As if we are the humans that didn’t come with a proper user manual, we’re the ones left trying to figure out how we fit in. If you can’t understand this feeling, then you must be an extravert (or an introvert in denial.)

So why are we left to figure this out? Well, I think it has to do with the fact that we are the ones who need to think everything out before we act and speak. Many of us just haven’t figured out who we are yet. If we can’t figure ourselves out, then how we expect others to figure us out?

For many years after being labelled an introvert, I felt at a loss as to what this meant. I knew that I felt uncomfortable in social situations -especially impromptu ones. The more people that surrounded me, the more I felt awkward and drained after just a few moments. The more voices that entered the room and the volume went up, the more I couldn’t hear any one of them -even if they were speaking right beside me. I just figured I was going deaf.

After a while, I began to feel anxious before social engagements where I knew there would be new people that I haven’t met before. Don’t get me wrong, in a quiet situation with minimal people around; I don’t mind meeting new people. But, in a party situation, my anxieties spike. What if they talk to me? I wouldn’t be able to hear them! They may think that I’m stuck-up or conceited. When in reality, when more people are talking, I can’t distinguish one voice from another.

I just thought I was broken, and felt shameful because of it.

For so long, I’ve struggled with the idea of being an introvert. Can it be cured? How can I be fixed? Do I just fake being an extrovert? To ease the pain, I avoided parties and social gatherings. I didn’t want to be judged. After a while, I felt socially broken. Perhaps, I belonged on the island of misfit toys. Then out of the blue, it all changed.

Introverts aren’t any more broken than extroverts are fixed.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Susan Cain speak about the topic of introversion. In the first few moments of her talk, she explained as clear as day the physiological effects of introversion on the body. She compared our energy levels in social situations to a battery. For extroverts, being among a group of people charges their battery and thus, they feel energized and ready to party all night long. Whereas introverts, the stimuli to being in a social gathering depletes our battery and leaves us running home before the party just begun. This concept deeply resonated with me.

It all comes down to the stimulation of our nervous system. Introverts are negatively stimulated in social situations, and extroverts are positively stimulated. There goes the negativity stuff tied to introversion again, but hey, it’s simplistic and helps explain a little piece of my life; I’ll gladly take it.

Susan’s explanation of how introverts function was the most relatable piece of information that I’ve ever heard on introversion. With that, I could now build around it and change my internal narrative about introversion. The way that I function now makes sense to me. When I’m alone, reading, writing or working on a problem, I’m positively charging up; my battery gets filled, and I could stay there forever. What is so wrong about that? It lends perfectly to my career as a writer!

I learned to get over the hump with knowledge

Now, at social functions, when the voices get many, and I struggle with hearing any one of them, I seek a moment of silence. I take a more extended bathroom break or move to a less crowded room for a few minutes. It doesn’t take long before my battery recharges and I can go back out and face the faces again. It works like a charm!

So, introverts, raise a glass! Be proud and fully embrace your introversion. It’s not something you need to fix or a problem that you need to solve. Being an introvert is just a small piece of who you are and a big piece that you can leverage to being of better service to those around you. There’s no shame not being an extrovert. You are an introvert, now proudly be one!

I’d love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment if you are a proud introvert or an understanding extrovert! I enjoy hearing the thoughts of my readers. A roaming mind is a mind moved to action.

6 thoughts on “I’m Just Introverted

  1. I’m a proud introvert! Not everyone gets me but I’m okay with that now. My office is at the end of the hallway and has a door. That’s important to me, I can hide there when it’s necessary. 😊

  2. Thank you for this post! I am absolutely an introvert but with what HR professionals would call a customer service personality. So tendency was that I pushed and pushed through the uncomfortableness of meetings, presenting to rooms of medical doctors and dentists and call after call from pensioners looking for retirement advice only to go home to the soccer field and hockey rink activities, giving the last drips of energy to my partner and kids . Till the wall came down hard! Full burnout… I had to unlearn the guilt that I programmed for “ retreating to isolation in my room “ as a teenager, for “get more involved in your children’s activities as a volunteer “ , for “will you lead the charity drive or social committee at work” for “ join our group workout class with the girlfriends “…. those took my energy, my motivation and drained my spirit. No guilt, I know how much I can give out and I know the signs of when to recharge… non negotiables . Those who matter to me respect and understand because they see me thriving

  3. I can relate to so many of your topics Jeff..but this one in particular, strikes at the core of my being. I have spent so much of my life being referred to as “the quiet one” or “the shy one”. It was many years into my teaching career when I had the opportunity to complete the Myers Briggs test…and lo and behold my results did indeed show my introversion. For many years thereafter I did try to be more extroverted but to no avail…I am a loner by nature. In fact, I cherish my alone time. I am comfortable in small group settings, but even then I am more apt to be “the listener” in the group. I no longer want to be anyone but “me”…I was often referred to as “the quiet leader” in my 35 year teaching career…and I am totally fine with that moniker. Every classroom needs extroverts and introverts…as does every successful business…as does humanity in general.

    Keith was my wonderful, loving extrovert. We were total opposites but we fit together perfectly. He always “let me be me”.

    I read one of Susan Cain’s books a few years ago and found it so insightful….so much so that I shared it with others.

    So I join you Jeff in raising a glass and toasting the power and strength of introversion. Chimo!

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