i'm an introvert–and i'm not always proud of it

Saturday, May 12, 2018


"You should play with the other kids, honey!" my mother suggests.

I shake my head, refusing the offer. "I don't want to look weird."

I'm seven years old, sitting beside her in a family banquet. There are kids sprinting and shouting across the playground, playing together with their toys and balloons. Most children would run towards the fun, but as a child, I just avoided the scene.

Introducing myself to other kids seemed like a nightmare, regardless of how nice they looked. I remember choosing to wander off around the hotel on my own instead. The little girl who looked like she was lost, admiring empty ballrooms, hallways, and great big staircases. 

I built a world around myself and loved it, even when there was no one else there.

---

An introvert is a wallflower. As Stephen Chbosky wrote it in his book, "You see things, you keep quiet about them, and you understand." The dictionary defines it as being "predominantly concerned with their own thoughts or feelings, rather than external factors or surroundings." In a nutshell? A nutshell.

Introverts are usually the opposite of a people person. So be aware, first of all, that it's not your fault if a social situation drains an introvert's energy, rather than refuel it. It's not that you're a bad friend; it's just how we're wired.

As an introvert myself, I don't hate being one. It's just that on most days, I see being an introvert as having a cat. I love petting it, placing it on my lap, and cradling it in the comfort of my armchair.

But I hate that I constantly have to feed it.

I envy my friends who can be the "life of the party". The friends who don't mind staying until late, having the time of their lives. The friends who bring exuberance into a room when they walk into it.

For me, this is rarely ever the case. Most of the time, being any further than ten feet away from home when it's 11 PM is just recipe for anxiety. I've learned the skill of inching away from an uncomfortable conversation. I avoid the center of the room at parties. And if I get a dollar for every time a person describes me as "unapproachable", I'd be rich already.

As some call themselves a "proud introvert", I still often struggle to find the aspects that I can actually take pride in.


However, I have my fair share of extroverted traits as well. (Most personalities consist of the two, just in varying ratios.) This mostly plays out in different circumstances, like in making new friends during my first few months at uni, asking for help from strangers, or, well– writing this blog.

For most daily interactions, introversion has no choice but to take a back seat. For me, especially now, more than ever. Transitioning into life in a new city means meeting new people in new surroundings, and often, this makes me feel like my introversion has not only taken a back seat; it has left the car.

I came from a Southeast Asian country, where most things are implied rather than expressed. Moving into a Western culture has also pushed me to be a little more outspoken, and a little braver in jumping into discussions.

Altering yourself to survive is indeed a funny feeling.

In the past, I could never talk too much in a conversation without feeling like I'm "exposing" too much of myself. But lately, it's easy to sense moments where I can feel myself start to open up.

A little awkwardly, yet almost instantly, I started emerging from my lifelong shell of shyness. I grew more expressive in sharing thoughts and ideas, and became less guarded than I had normally been.

---

A friend told me, "I remember when I first met you. You were nice, you smiled at me!"

Another mentioned, "You're good with people. I mean, I don't know– I think you're friendly."

Friendly? 

My inner introvert was offended.

This left a realization that even though being an introvert might've given me the ability to be more observant, or intuitive, or to devour a 400-page book at alarming rates, it has also hindered me from reaching out or touching the lives of others.

A safe zone it was, indeed, but one can't really achieve much in that area anyway, can they?


Not that being an introvert is necessarily an egotistical trait. But introversion simply does what a shell does best. Protects us from the outside, and makes sure that nothing goes out or in.

I was surprised upon hearing my friends' comments because they defied my introversion, something I've identified with my whole life.

Even though I'm still an introvert to this day (and I took the Myer-Briggs test three different times just to check), my changing nature is impossible to be ignored.

When a certain aspect of one's personality shifts, there's bound to be a bit of discomfort. But still, I know that changes that happen within you, will affect what comes of you. And in my case, if it makes others feel more welcome, or if it turns us into a warmer person to be around with, then I say I'll embrace that discomfort.

You don't need to hold onto a part of yourself so strongly if it's not essential to your growth. 

---

I'm an introvert, and I'm not always proud of it.

I'm not always proud of my lack of social skills. I'm not always proud in being so scared of social gatherings, trying to look normal when it's actually anxiety-inducing to be among such a large crowd of people. I'm not always proud that "cold" or "hard to approach" are still on the list of first impressions that people would have of me. I'm not always proud for not saying the things I know I should've said, just because they got entangled in my brain before making it to my voice.

But the good news, is that we can still decide that we know ourselves well enough to recognize what needs changing and what doesn't. And from there, we can still be better. We can still be great. In fact, we can still be utterly wonderful,

without ever having to stay the same.

---

From the introvert who blogs,







7 comments

  1. thanks for inspiring, I am also an acute introvert ^^

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  2. I like this a lot! I'm an introvert too hahaha but it definitely changes depending on the day!
    -Kate // http://www.classyandkate.com/how-i-read-50-books-in-one-summer-and-2018-list/

    ReplyDelete
  3. All hail the introverts!! I am definitely an introvert haha. I tend to be okay in social situations because I can hide it really well. ;)

    -Emily www.coatandcoffee.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emily, thanks so much for stopping by! x

      Delete
  4. I identify with a lot of the characteristics of being an introvert as well, and I like that you're opinion on being an introvert is quite fluid as well. I'm the same! Sometimes I like being an introvert and other times I wish I were extraverted.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Relatable, girl. Thanks for reading! x

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  5. I absolutely love this post and find it so relatable! I'm glad there's a voice like yours in the blogosphere!

    ReplyDelete

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