Today is World Introvert Day. I wanted to take a moment to share a few of my own experiences and insights on living as an introvert.... because sadly, many of us have been grossly misunderstood for much of our life. Part of my mission has become to help educate and increase awareness about introversion. Until I understood that I was an introvert and learned what that really meant, I often felt different, outcast, and/or broken, like I needed to be "fixed" or improved in some way. I've been either made to feel or outright told that I was too timid, too reserved, or too shy.
People think introverts don't like people or are anti-social. In reality, each introvert has his or her own levels of comfort with sociability. It's not that we dislike people... we can be very social and enjoy being in relationship with others. However, we may have different preferences in terms of what being social looks like, as we may become quickly drained when around too many people at once. Many introverts are uncomfortable in large crowds. We recover our energy through solitude and need ample time alone.
We have different needs and preferences in all aspects of our life. We are deep thinkers and processors, which means we spend a lot of time in our heads and like to think things through. Our many gifts and talents look different than the gifts and talents of extroverts. This doesn't make our way wrong, just different.
We have spent much of our life trying to learn how to flourish in an extroverted world. This in and of itself is exhausting. We feel constant pressure about trying to conform to the way others want us to be, when in reality, we are so much more successful when we are allowed to do things our own way.
Part of our challenge is to find our place along the continuum where we are pushing the boundaries of our own comfort zones so we grow, while also finding comfort in who we are and honoring the fact that we are different and have unique qualities, traits, and needs. Through this learning process, we find our inner power and learn to stand up for ourselves rather than trying to be someone or something we're not. Magic happens when we release external expectations and pressures and find the courage to follow our own heart and to create our own path through life.