For many years I struggled with my introversion. I forced myself into situations that made me feel like a square peg in a round hole. I attended social gatherings which left me feeling drained and grumpy, and accepted invitations when I would much rather stay at home with a good book. Being labelled as boring if I didn’t want to do certain things – I thought there was something wrong with me for not always seeing a night out as fun.
I’ve always been an introvert, frequently describing myself as socially awkward. As a kid, I was described as shy, my mum having to sneak away from birthday parties while I was otherwise distracted. I preferred one-on-one interactions or quietly loitering in the background compared to large groups or being the centre of attention. I still do. But it wasn’t until I read Quiet by Susan Cain that I fully understood what everything meant. Page by page, I found myself nodding along in agreement with everything she said. My shoulders dropped while the weight became lighter as the burden I’d been carrying around started to lift. Somebody finally got me and understood the inner workings of my mind.
Connecting the Dots
I was in my late thirties when I first started connecting the dots, but into my forties, before I joined them all up. Once I did, I realised that everything I’d been experiencing was okay. In fact, it was more than okay – it was normal. I could breathe a sigh of relief and finally start working with my personality rather than against it. I like solitude, peace and quiet with time to read, write and just be, and when the pandemic hit, it confirmed what I already knew – it just made it more acceptable.
I’m a thinker, a listener, and an observer, and I welcome silence in which to meditate and reflect. I like quiet nights with my husband and curling up with a good book. I’m an early to bed, early to rise kinda girl; lights out before 10pm and up before 6am, running early in the morning when the streets are empty, and people are still sleeping. I like hiking in the countryside far-away from the hustle and bustle of crowded streets, exploring lush green valleys and rolling hillsides while breathing in the fresh, clean air. I take my time when getting to know people. Don’t get me wrong, like many introverts, I have a few extroverted personality traits. But I save these for my nearest and dearest, the people who know me well.
Embracing my Introversion
I didn’t always pay attention to what I needed, saying yes to things when I really meant no. Whereas now, I listen to what I need. I embrace my personality rather than curse it and accept myself for who I am. Someone once asked me if I wished I wasn’t this way, to which I truthfully responded no. Because being an introvert doesn’t prevent me from doing anything. I understand what I need and what makes me tick, what situations are worth getting out of my comfort zone for, and which ones aren’t. I’ll wholeheartedly get uncomfortable for something that means something to me and adds value to my life. But I don’t believe in forcing myself to do something just for the sake of it. Every big decision I make has been thought out and made with intention, not carried out on a whim. I carefully weigh up what’s worth fighting for and whether it aligns with my values.
Introverts are good listeners and problem solvers, deep thinkers, and comfortable spending time alone. Fearne Cotton describes herself as 100% introvert, and other famous introverts include Steven Spielberg, Emma Watson, JK Rowling and Barack Obama. So, contrary to what some people think, I don’t need fixing. I just understand how to enjoy my own company without feeling lonely. I don’t need to be more social or interactive, loud, or outgoing. I’m fine the way I am; it just took me a while to understand that.