“Quiet”. “A polite, kind member of the class”. My school report cards said the same thing. Over and over. I was a good, mannered and friendly girl who kept to herself. But what did they know? I never spoke enough for them to know me. How I wish they would have said I possessed introvert characteristics, and just needed some extra care when socialising. I was made to feel like a quiet, lonely failure.
That was as a child and as a teenager, I just kept myself to my close friends. We live in world where life is encouraged as one full of nights out, activities and loud confidence. You have to speak above to get ahead. Success is for those networking – those willing to never spend an evening alone. So, how do you embrace introvert characteristics? How do you regain power?
What an introvert actually is
According to verywellmind.com, “Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation.” The piece goes on to say that 25 to 45% of the population are approximately introverts. Though there are many signs – needing time alone after socialising and finding crowds stressful, Lifehack mentions being a writer, being called an old soul, and not enjoying meeting new people, as possible clues.
Our personalities are not cookie-cutter. Many of us find ourselves confused, because we feel like introverts, and yet we love going out to parties. Or we enjoy standing up and giving presentations. As a Yahoo article explains, “Most of us actually fall more in the middle of the personality spectrum.” There are varying levels. You may find yourself unable to relate to several introvert characteristics.
Perhaps you are ambivert. Discussed on Yahoo, this means you have an equal number of traits. You couldn’t spend every weekend in a large group, and you couldn’t always hang out with just a few friends. The take away point, is to remember that the scale is large. You don’t need to embody each sign to classifying yourself.
How to embrace introvert characteristics
It helps to know what the benefits are. Published on Time.com, introverts can flourish and achieve more, when they understand their strengths. This includes super observation skills – understanding interpersonal communication by noticing facial expressions and body language better, knowing how to choose good friends, and being the best romantic partners. As introverts are aware of personal space and needing time alone, they can give that to their relationships.
It’s about accepting who you are. Instead of saying – I’m an introvert and I hate work meetings because I feel awkward. Say – I’m an introvert, and I’m going to harness my skills to stand out in this meeting. Learn what they are. Don’t compete with extroverts. The Time editorial I have linked, shares how introverts can advance with their unique abilities.
There is also this article on ABC, full of tips on how to make socialising easier for introverts. I myself am not the easiest to form connections with. If someone is instantly similar and there’s an obvious bond – I will laugh aloud and blabber away. On the other hand, if they are dominating, or if they don’t immediately like me, I break down. I become shyer than leaves on a tree in autumn.
Realise what it’s not
My older sister is a strong extrovert. That created negative comparisons, for me. I was antisocial, boring; plain. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”, “I can’t believe you’re related… you’re so different”. She bossed me around with my extrovert mother, unintentionally confused as to why I wasn’t moulding the same way.
The misconception is that introverts are shy and uncomfortable in social settings. Some are, but it’s about liking our own company, not always wanting to spend time with others. It doesn’t equal a lack of confidence. Often, the people who seem to own bouts of self-assurance, are secretly masking deep insecurity. Introvert characteristics are not equal in everyone.
It’s surprising to think that celebrities in the spotlight, have found success and fortune in an extrovert industry. Audrey Hepburn once remarked that she can happily spend an entire weekend by herself, without speaking to anyone. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Christina Aguilera, Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie are all reported introverts. Proving, our introvert characteristics are worth embracing.
Are you an introvert? If so, are many of your friends extrovert, and have you struggled with fitting in?