Ah, introversion: the quality your teachers always told you you'd need to grow out of eventually. After all, adults can't be shy, bashful, or soft-spoken. It's a big world out there! How ever will you succeed if you're quieter than a mouse?
Here's the thing: I never grew out of my introversion, because as it turns out, your inherent nature isn't something you grow out of. But that's a good thing. Not only is there nothing wrong with introverts, but they're actually needed in order to juxtapose the wonderful beings that are the extroverts!
Your inherent nature isn't something you grow out of. But that's a good thing.
Growing up with an older sister who is the true definition of an extrovert, I often wrestled with my own natural tendency to keep more of myself hidden and my hesitation before speaking. My inner world was the safest, most restful place for me to dwell, and it was also something I seldom shared with another soul, and when I did, it almost felt dangerous to be doing so.
Being an introvert was a facet of myself that I truly hated for years. I poured over blog after blog about how to be charismatic and engaging. I watched popular kids with envy, hoping that if I studied them closely enough, I could mimic their more desirable traits.
Strangely enough, the introversion I'd always considered a curse is now actually one of the things my extroverted husband likes most about me. He likes my inner world, which I ever so slowly allowed him to come into. He likes that I bring peace and quiet to his chaotic world, that I'm a safe place.
These are things I've started to like about myself, too.
And with that, since the one thing introverts love talking about the most is being an introvert, I've compiled a Rory Gilmore pro and con list. Behold, the five worst and five best parts of being an introvert!
Let's Start with the Worst:
1. Being asked why you're so quiet your entire life.
This question is downright silly. I don't ask extroverts why they talk so much. It's obviously just their nature. As for introverts, we tend to stay quiet a fair amount of the time—that is, until you've been deemed our person. Then you can't shut us up! Nonetheless, my silence doesn't mean I don't like you; I'm probably just assessing the situation.
2. Having to deal with small talk.
Both hearing and saying, "So where are you from?" "Do you have any siblings?" ten times in a row is a nightmare for anyone, I'd say. For introverts, the pain of conversations such as these goes deep. We're already stressed asking and answering these questions once. But over and over again? Excuse me while I climb into this hole in the ground.
3. Being told introverts are selfish.
My shyness isn't due to only thinking of my own comfort. It happens to be my inclination. And while I sit silently, I'm often watching my surroundings more closely than you think—not just thinking of my own feelings.
My silence comes from observing my enviroment—not just thinking of my own feelings.
So just as extroverts are neither selfish for being confident and freely speaking of themselves, nor selfless for striking up a conversation, introverts are not selfish for being soft-spoken.
4. Constantly coming up with new excuses to not go to a party.
It's not that I don't want to go to your party. It's simply that by the time Friday night rolls around, I've depleted my energy throughout the week, rendering me unable to do anything without a night all to myself, recharging said energy. This need to recharge isn't always easily understood by my extroverted friends.
5. Phone calls are the bane of your existence.
Speaking on the phone—where you can hear each other's voice, you're expected to think of a perfect response on your feet, and completely focus your energy on the conversation—is highly stressful, to say the least. I think I speak for all introverts when I say we thoroughly prefer texting, where you can take your time crafting the perfect response, at your leisure, without a worry.
But Wait! All Hope Is Not Lost. Here Are the Best Things about Being an Introvert:
1. You're a good leader.
The idea of having everyone look to me as their leader is not something I'd jump at the chance to do, but there are advantages to having an introvert as a leader. The introverted leaders that come to mind (Queen Elizabeth, anyone?) are often regarded as focused, determined, measured, and prepared. Flashy leaders need not apply when you've got an introvert with these skills.
2. You're a really good listener.
I was once asked in a job interview what kind of animal I would be. I chose a cat because of their observational skills. Introverts love to observe, and we're darn good at it too.
Introverts love to observe, and we're darn good at it too.
This makes us great listeners, as we're perfectly happy dissecting your relationship problems with you, and even helping you find a solution if you ask for one. Nevertheless, if a listening ear is all you need, we're here for you.
3. You know how to prepare.
If there's one thing I've mastered, it's making sure I have everything covered. Whether it's taking extra socks on a trip, leaving 15 minutes early just in case parking is scarce, or rehearsing my lines for an acting gig for hours on end, I'm always prepared for all outcomes. Yes, it's tiring—but it's better than being late to an interview, or forgetting my lines!
4. You know your limits.
Healthy introverts do a great deal of introspection (it's kind of our thing), so part of being introverted is knowing yourself, your energy supply, and your limits. My limits are often different than others', and I know when I need to peace out at a party, for my sanity, and crash at home with some Food Network.
5. People are more likely to listen to you when you do speak.
Being the quiet girl in the corner who's never spoken before sure does get you some attention when you finally do choose to speak—and it leads others to take your words more seriously, too. Bonus: keeping quiet makes you seem enigmatic—turns out there's power behind thinking before you speak!
Whether you're introverted or extroverted, serious or silly, bashful or bold, I believe understanding and coming to love yourself, and what makes you the marvelously unique person you are, is integral on this journey of life.