What’s wrong with you?
Why are you so quiet?
Why don’t you talk more?
You should get out of your shell more.
You should go out more.
You should just say something.
If you are an introvert, you have likely heard these types of statements directed at you all of your life. If you are lucky, they just go in one ear and out the other. If you are less lucky, some of it may have stuck with you, scraping cracks into your self esteem.
When you go through life hearing comments that imply you are “not quite right” and “less than”… When you click on yet another Tips For Introverts article that just tells you how to act more like an extravert… It’s easy to start believing that there is actually something wrong with you. That it’s not ok to be you.
I know because I’ve been there. Disliking my true self. Trying to hide my introversion. Acting like an extravert.
And do you think acting like an extravert made me reach nirvana? Hell, no! I was miserable. I was living for everyone other than myself. I was hating my life and secretly struggling with depression.
Until I had enough and somehow managed to dig my way out. I learned to accept my introversion and love my introverted self exactly as I am.
In this post, I want to share the five steps I took along the way that have helped me embrace my introversion and become ok with who I am. I hope they will help you do the same. 🙂
1. Learn About Introversion
Introversion is a personality trait that we were likely born with. It’s not a flaw. It’s not something that needs to be fixed. It’s a normal personality variation that is pretty well documented in scientific literature. Introvert brains process and react to their environment differently from extravert brains.
Learning everything I could about introversion has really helped me see it as something “normal” rather than something “weird”. If you are ready to learn more about introversion, I would recommend the following books for starters:*
And while not all introverts are Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), many of us are, so I would recommend this book as well:
2. Discover Your Gifts As An Introvert
Not only is introversion a normal personality variation, it comes with advantages. Just like extraverts tend to be better equipped to handle certain types of tasks and situations, introverts tend to be better able to handle others. Many of us are able to focus for long periods of time on tasks that require quiet concentration or analysis. Some of us are deep thinkers capable of coming up with new ideas and insights. And most of us are good listeners.
A real breakthrough for me was to stop obsessing about things I didn’t do as well as extraverts and to start focusing on my gifts as an introvert. So I can’t keep up with the same level of social activity and stimulation as my extravert husband. But I can sit for hours reading and researching. I can sit for hours thinking about stuff and sharing my ideas with you.
Introversion is just one personality trait and the way your introversion interacts with your other personality traits determines what your particular gifts are as an introvert. But you DO have gifts and when you become aware of what they are and how you are either already using them or can use them in the future, your confidence as an introvert will skyrocket. Check out the articles below to get started. 🙂
Related: How To Make Your Brain Happy
3. Start Giving Yourself What You Need
Extraverts feel energized after socializing with other people. Introverts, on the other hand, have their energy sapped in social situations and need solitude to recharge.
It’s one thing to read about these differences and sort of understand them in theory. But what has really sold this theory to me is experiencing it in my own life. When I don’t get enough alone time, I feel tired, cranky, and even depressed. When I do give myself the time I need to recharge, I feel like a completely different person. I have a lot more energy and my mood is generally optimistic.
Once I fully accepted my introversion and started living accordingly (ie. making sure I got enough alone time), I felt so much better that a) it has convinced me I’m on the right track and b) it has given me the strength to go against some societal norms in order to stay on that track.
4. Find Your Tribe
I get that it’s kind of an oxymoron to tell a bunch of introverts to go out and find a community. 😉 But even if most of us are not foaming at the mouth to go to a real life Introvert Meet-Up every Saturday when we can stay home with a book, we are very much capable of feeling lonely. It’s also easy to feel like a misfit when you live in a society that praises and rewards extraversion. What helps big time with these feelings is to find other introverts who can relate to your struggles. Going to websites like Introvert, Dear or Introvert Spring and reading about the experiences of other introverts is guaranteed to make you feel less alone and less like a weirdo. Don’t forget that there are literally billions of us in this world!
5. Come Out As An Introvert
Many of us living in an extraverted culture have learned to hide our introversion or even “blend” as extraverts. I think it’s high time for us to stop feeling embarrassed about who we are and show some introvert pride if for no other reason but to encourage each other.
Now granted, we are not the types to be constantly yapping about ourselves, but every now and then, try to work being an introvert into a conversation when an appropriate moment presents itself:
- I think I’m going to stay home this weekend. I’m an introvert, so I need a good bit of alone time.
- I don’t get bored very easily. I’m an introvert, so I’m pretty good at entertaining myself.
- Let me get back to you on that. I’m an introvert, so I need to process things on my own before I make decisions.
When you say these types of things out loud and the world doesn’t come to an end as a result, you’ll start feeling more confident about who you are. Plus you’ll be surprised at how often you will get this as a response:
- I know what you mean. I’m exactly the same way.
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