As a child, I was aware that I'd been described as quiet and thoughtful, and I never saw this as a bad thing, until I entered my teens.
This was when I began comparing myself to others who were outwardly confident, popular and funny.
Not understanding what an introvert was at the time, I started to see my quietness and thoughtfulness as a weakness; equivalent to being shy, reserved, boring, and basically, not good enough.
I was so ashamed of my 'lack of personality' that I couldn't open up to anyone about it. I felt like I was the only one, and that no-one else would understand anyway.
This took a big toll on my self-worth and self-confidence which lasted up into my early 20's.
Thankfully, I reached a turning point which led me on a jounrey of self-discovery and personal growth - one which I now know I'll be on for the rest of my life!
I'll never forget the day I first learnt about what it means to be an introvert, from several different sources. A wave of relief and comfort took over me.
Now I get to help pass the message on; to clarify what it really means to be an introvert, so that you can embrace your introversion (if you identify as one) or so that you can better understand the introverts in your life.
So what is an introvert?
Firstly, an introvert is a personality type with its own unique strengths and weaknesses just like any other personality type.
If you identify with being an introvert, you were most likely born this way.
Here are some typical introvert traits:
- We're deep thinkers - we love to reflect, daydream, imagine, analyse, wonder.
- We need more time to process information and to think before speaking. We often find it easier to express ourselves in writing.
- We need regular quiet time and to spend time alone to recharge after socialising or being in highly stimulating environments because we're sensitive to this and it can drain our energy after a certain point.
- We prefer to engage in more deep and meaningful conversation and activities (over small talk) and prefer 1:1 or small group interactions.
What an introvert is NOT:
Being an introvert does not mean that you have social anxiety or low self-confidence. Nor does it mean that you're antisocial, boring, weird or detached. However, you may be an introvert AND experience social anxiety and/or low self-confidence. But you were not born that way - social anxiety and low self-confidence are acquired from experience and from societal conditioning.
For example, you may have learnt that if you want to be successful and popular, you need to be assertive, open, outgoing and sociable. Since those traits don't always come naturally for introverts, it can make us feel flawed and at a disadvantage. As a result, we can develop negative beliefs about ourselves which lower our sense of self-worth and confidence. We may develop a massive fear of judgement when around others as we feel like everyone is looking at us and judging how we look, how we sound if we said the right thing etc. We may develop a fear of not knowing what to say. Fear of awkward silences. A fear of having to share about ourselves. A fear of looking like the odd one out.
Over time, we may learn to associate social situations with fear and anxiety which gets reinforced more and more every time. THIS is social anxiety.
So now that you understand what being an introvert really means, what's next?
Well, now you get to:
- Understand your introvert needs and preferences
- Identify your natural introvert strengths as well as areas in which you can grow
- Embrace and OWN these parts of you! (crucial for developing true self-confidence!)
- Recognise that social anxiety and low self-confidence are acquired from experience/societal influence - they do not define you and they can be overcome.
I help shy introverts to break free from chronic overthinking, self-judgement and holding back so they can finally feel at peace in their own skin and express their true authentic selves in the world.
If this is something you're ready for or would like to know more about, drop me a message and we'll explore if we're a good fit to work together!