For as long as Jennifer could remember, she had always been the “shy” one. At different stages of her life, holding that title meant different things. In pre-school, it meant that she’d get picked last for games and didn’t get invited to many birthday parties.
In high school, it meant that she had only two friends and nobody knew her by name, only by face—most people got her attention by calling her “bangs,” a tribute to the choppy hairstyle she wore. But, it wasn’t until Jennifer’s second year of college that she began to feel something else about her introversion. Shame.
Can you relate to Jennifer’s story? The fact that you’re reading this blog tells me that you can. In fact, between 50 to 74 percent of the entire adult population of the United States consider themselves to be introverts.
So, if the majority of the population considers themselves to be introverts, why do so many of us still feel shame about our introversion? The answer lies in some of the symptoms of introversion.
Many introverts—including Jennifer mentioned at the outset—have come to resent the repercussions of their introversion. In a world that merits those who are more outspoken and social, being an introvert can feel like a curse.
Introverts often feel like a deer caught in the headlights in social situations and are often passed over for promotions at work because of their reserved nature. All of this can make introverts feel worse about their personality traits.
But if you’re an introvert, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of who you are. Instead, let’s take a look at how you can embrace your introversion, and even use it to enhance your life.
Talk To Someone Who Can Help
What many people don’t realize is that though most people identify as introverts, there are varying levels to introversion. On one hand, you may have people who feel some anxiety about social situations and public speaking, but still, manage to show up and act as if they aren’t shy. While these individuals may have their own struggles with being shy, some introverts have an entirely different experience.
For some introverts, they experience so much anxiety in social situations and even with their own friends that they are unable to articulate their thoughts. Some would rather avoid social situations altogether, which can prove to be problematic and actually hinder their progress in life.
Talking to somebody who can help is one amazing way of embracing your introversion instead of being ashamed.
Having a conversation with a therapist can help you make improvements, like being able to express yourself better and get out of your own head. Therapy can also teach you ways to calm yourself down in social situations, as well as give you hacks on how to improve how you feel in social situations. With a therapist under your belt, you’ll start to see your introversion as less of a hindrance.
Get To Know Yourself
Another great way to embrace your introversion is to understand it.
As with any mental hiccup that we have, a lot of the fear that we feel comes from the unknown aspect of everything. Introversion is no different. If we don’t understand ourselves, there’s no way that we’ll be able to successfully navigate the challenge that our introversion may pose. Two ways that you can get to know yourself are:
- Think more about your actions. By examining your feelings more in depth, you’ll be able to understand what it is about a social activity that you find off-putting. What’s more, is that you’ll have more context to your feelings of shyness. You’ll be able to say, “I feel shy in certain situations because…” not just “I feel shy.” With this sort of information at your disposal, you’ll be able to better control your thoughts and make better decisions to combat extreme introversion.
- Keep a gratitude journal. By keeping a journal of each day’s happenings, including what you’re grateful for, you’ll be able to have a clear picture of the things you’re able to achieve, including ways you’ve overcome your introversion. Being more grateful will also improve your general mood, and empower you to try new things that might have made you feel uncomfortable in the past. This journal will help you to keep on top of everything happening in your life.
Knowing yourself is key to embracing your introversion, and ultimately getting rid of the shame you feel about it. The last step involves the kind of people you keep in your circle.
Choose Your Inner Circle Wisely
While it may already be difficult for you to make friends, being more deliberate about the kind of people you invite into your circle will greatly help you to improve how you view your introversion.
Instead of individuals who force you into uncomfortable situations and make fun of you when you opt out of social situations, you should have friends who strengthen you. Your inner circle should be comprised of people who understand your introversion, your limits and gently help you improve your current situation.
How can you go about finding people like that?
Well, to do that you’ll need to implement the first two strategies suggested in this post. When you’ve come to realize more about yourself, as well as sought help from someone who can help you to manage your introversion, you’ll be able to make friends just a bit easier.
With all this in mind, it’s possible to embrace your introversion. Jennifer mentioned at the outset managed to do just that, and now more than thirty years since she was labeled the “shy” girl in her class, she finds it easier to make friends.
She’s managed to snag a promotion because of the combination of strategies listed in this story, but more than anything else, Jennifer is happy with who she is. She sees her introversion as a superpower, one that makes her more observant and thoughtful, and more attentive to the people she converses with.
Like Jennifer, you can do it too.