How much do I want to read more? 7/10
Have you ever read words like it was written by you? Introvert symptoms and description fit like a divination, and you will probably identify with it with a smiling face. The author style is actually quite humorous, while serious.
Yes, I often considered something was wrong with myself being an introvert, but I also recognize it was a powerful force in some situations. Exploring those traits in a book is like looking oneself in the mirror of someone else's eyes.
What's interesting here is the change of paradigm. To see people and the world in a different way.
If you think about it, it's not that simple: what makes you happy, or having good ideas: being alone, or among people? There must be a mix of it, don't you think?
The more I read through, the more the author look sincere. We can imagine her as an introvert, all that she's gone through. We can feel what she felt, and there's no doubt she's a real introvert. However, she succeeds in getting over it, with a deep sense of clarity that she's sharing with us.
It's very inspiring to see how she turned her introversion into an asset. As she said, "hopefully I didn't completely turned off my inner voice, and had enough intuition left to follow my inner compass".
For an introvert, this could be life-changing. The beginning of a life matching the inner-self.
“You’re really quiet,” they said. “What’s wrong?” Usually nothing was wrong; I was happily fantasizing, or observing. After a while, though, I began to think that they were right. Maybe there was something inherently wrong with me. I would later learn that about one-third to one-half of the world’s population feels just as flawed and misunderstood as I was.
Our culture is great at reinforcing the idea that an introverted personality is unattractive. Introversion has long been depicted as the ugly little sister of extroversion. To extroverts are attributed all the attractive qualities: charisma, friendliness, confidence. Meanwhile, introverts get the tattered hand-me-downs. We are labeled as withdrawn, antisocial, and depressed.
Somehow, learning that they are not the only ones who are quiet and inwardly inclined made them feel like it was finally okay to be who they were. They breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they were not strange or defective. They were simply introverts.
The most basic definition of an introvert is someone who gains energy by turning inward and loses energy in stimulating environments. Introverts are more easily overstimulated than extroverts. This is why we tend to enjoy contemplative, quiet activities. Meanwhile, extroverts prefer to direct their energies outward. They require more stimulation to feel good.
Love of Introspection
Introspection is a favorite pastime for introverts. We love to explore the colorful landscapes of our imagination.
Turning inward is as much a means of survival as it is a source of comfort. Our love of introspection also brings meaning and direction to our life.
The Need for Solitude
An introvert’s desire for solitude is more than just a preference. It is crucial to our health and happiness.
A Different Approach to Communication
Introverts are known for being quiet.
While extroverts are verbal processors, who speak as they think, introverts need to think before we speak. This leads to a slower, more thoughtful communication style that involves fewer words and longer pauses.
Other Introvert Idiosyncrasies
- Many introverts identify as highly sensitive
- Most introverts hate talking on the phone
- We are often spiritual
- We have a tendency to over think
- We prefer deep conversations over small talk
- We often write better than we speak
No one person is completely an introvert or completely an extrovert.
Again, the main definition of introversion has to do with where we get our energy from. Introverts can be sociable and even outgoing, but we will need ample time to be alone and recharge our energy between social spurts.
People assume that introverts are lonely when we turn inward. In reality, we are lonelier when we spend too much time focusing outward.
We need to feel connected to our “inner being,” which is comprised of our thoughts, feelings, unique perspectives, and intuition.
There is a real bias toward extroversion in our culture. This leads introverts to give into the pressure to seek fulfillment on the outside. We think that doing as extroverts do will make us more attractive and likeable.
Introverts are happiest when we stay connected to our inner world.
True charisma has to do with a person’s ability to draw us in and hold our attention. Introverts can do this without saying a word. It all begins with reconnecting to our inner nature.
Once we have reconnected to our inner nature, developing charisma is more about revealing what is already there, rather than adding anything on.
It’s time for introverts to take off our invisibility cloak and show the world the beauty of our true personality. The best part is that we can do so in our own quiet way. No extroversion required.
Part 1: Coming Home to Yourself
The Extrovert’s Way—a Road Map to Nowhere
If you would like to be accepted into our private Circle of Normal People, there are some rules you must follow.
- You are required to spend plenty of time with others. It is not acceptable to sit together in silence. You must be having a conversation or doing some sort of activity—preferably both at the same time. Silence is permitted if you are playing sports, provided that you converse before and after the game. We also highly recommend that you join your teammates for a postgame chocolate sundae or Coca-Cola float.
- You must go out and socialize on weekends. Staying home on a weeknight is permissible, but socializing on Friday and Saturday is absolutely essential. Acceptance into the Circle hinges on how well you follow this rule. Acceptable excuses for failing to obey this rule include: contagious illness, injury, a family emergency or death, final exams, or your own death.
- You must accept that constant noise will be a part of your life from now on. Don’t bother trying to tell others to speak more quietly or to turn down the volume on the stereo. This will make both you and the Circle seem very uncool and will lead to your immediate demotion in status. Repeated anti-noise infractions could result in your expulsion from the Circle.
- The Circle of Normal People prides itself on the popularity of its members. One, two, or even three friends is not sufficient. Ten is adequate. Over twenty is preferred. It is not necessary to spend one-on-one time with each person, so long as you can remember one another’s names most of the time and make small talk as needed.
- Toughen up, dammit. You must never let people see your weaknesses, especially if said weaknesses could be labeled as timid, wimpy, or sissy-like. Crying in public is out of the question.
If you are able to abide by the above restrictions, we would be happy to have you as a member of the Circle of Normal People. The benefits of membership include: exemption from ridicule from other Circle members, liberation from the burden of thinking for yourself, a free birthday meal at Denny’s.
Norm Al Pearson
The Extrovert’s Way
If happiness is a destination, extroverts are in the fast lane. They need more stimulation to feel good compared to introverts, so they tend to talk and move at a faster pace. They want to do it all, see it all, and say it all with as few rest stops as possible.
Scenario #1: You want to spend Saturday night at home alone with a good book, but your friends—and society as a whole—tell you this is not normal. To them, the path to a happy and fulfilling life is paved with barbecues, parties, and lots of nights out on the town.
Scenario #2: You are at a barbecue and you are starting to fade. You want to leave early, or at least go for a walk so you can recharge; however, others say it’s weird to go off on your own when there is laughter and fun times to be had. They tell you the only way to enjoy life is to join the party.
Scenario #3: You have two best friends with whom you spend most of your time, and you have no desire to make more. But your friends, family, and all those happy people in Bud Light commercials tell you that more friends equals more happiness. Surrounding yourself with lots of people is the only way to feel fulfilled.
There is a common theme among these scenarios: the key to happiness is to surround ourselves with people all the time.
The thing about the extrovert’s way of socializing is that simply being around people is not enough. If it were, introverts might have an easier time. Instead, socializing is treated like a sport. From the moment we step on the field, the other guys are sizing us up.
Socializing in this way makes us feel like losers. No matter how much we try, we can’t win. And believe me, we’ve tried.
Forcing ourselves to be around people all the time can have severe consequences for introverts. It often leads to feelings of depletion, sadness, and even depression.
Our extroverted culture makes introverts feel despicable for wanting to be alone. Like thieves snatching something that doesn’t belong to them, we have to “steal” a moment of solitude.
Think vs. Do
The extroverts are the ones running around on the field, swinging hard, and stealing bases. They get all the high fives, all the glory. Few people understand that a lot can be accomplished while sitting on the sidelines. As we observe, we notice patterns and learn from the mistakes of other players. Sitting out for a while also allows us to store up energy, so we can play our best when we do make it onto the field.
Sensitivity Is Synonymous with Weakness
Sensitivity comes with many gifts, such as strong intuition, empathy, and an appreciation for subtlety.
Since extroverts actively seek out more stimulation, they are perplexed by our desire to avoid it. They don’t understand why their constant need to turn up the volume on life would upset us.
The More-Is-More Mentality
The quest for more—more things, more entertainment, more stimulation—is very much an extrovert’s pursuit.
If there weren’t so much pressure to acquire and consume, most introverts would be happy to live with less.
Often, as long as we have our books, our imagination, and a wide slice of solitude, we’re content.
For such people, acquisition is the purpose of life. More stuff equals more success.
Another way success is measured in our culture is by the number of friends we have.
Managing too many friendships is stressful for introverts.
[quote, Henry Rollins]
“Yes, I guess you could say I’m a loner, but I feel more lonely in a crowded room with boring people than I feel on my own.”
The Open-Door Policy
I can understand keeping the door open sometimes, but all the time? I’d rather not spend my days knowing that, at any moment, someone could barrel into my office like a bulldozer and demolish my train of thought.
Introverts accomplish more when we can give our complete focus to a task without interruption.
Saying “No” to Normal
While I appreciate your offer to include me in your Circle, I am unable to accept your terms. I like thinking for myself. The moment I truly started doing so, I realized that your club is overrated. Its benefits are nothing but a myth bolstered by the bragging of its members.
I’ll take my Saturday nights in solitude over being a so-called “Normal Person” any day.
2 - The Way Out Is In—Finding Your Inner Compass
[quote, T. S. Eliot]
We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.
It took me about twenty-eight years to come home to myself.
I did what most “well-behaved” North American introverts do: I directed all my energy outward.
Like fish out of water, introverts are quiet people in a noisy world.
The strange thing is that many goldfish voluntarily launch themselves out of their bowls. Goldfish suicide is a real phenomenon nowadays. Introverts are often just as eager to escape from our true nature.
We are internal processors, which means that our point of reference for relating to the world comes from within.
My outward focus went against my true nature. In my relentless search for fulfillment, I had forgotten a crucial navigation tool: my inner compass.
Luckily, I didn’t get so far off course that I completely lost touch with my intuition. I was connected to my inner voice just enough to hear it whisper that something was missing.
I decided to quit my job and sell everything that wouldn’t fit in a suitcase.
Then I set out on a journey across three continents in search of my life’s purpose.
I wanted to locate the elusive intersection where my unique gifts and experiences collided with something the world needed.
I hated it when people asked if I was trying to “find myself” because this made me sound like a cliché, but really, that was exactly what I was doing.
I was like a little kid on a scavenger hunt, scuttling over rocks and lifting logs, hoping to find something that had been in my pocket all along. Eventually, I did find what I was looking for. I found shreds of it in every country I visited.
The place where I truly came home to myself was much less exotic than expected—my inner, authentic self. She had been waiting patiently for me to put down my suitcase, quit distracting myself with outward pursuits, and return to join her in her natural habitat.
The Introvert’s Homeland
[quote, Rainer Maria Rilke]
“Your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.”
Coming home to ourselves starts with turning down the volume around us. For quiet, sensitive souls, solitude is the golden thread that unites us with our inner world. Empty spaces and closed doors should be nonnegotiable for introverts. We need quiet to connect the dots in our constellations of thought. Sadly, introverts have been told to run from quiet comforts, rather than take pleasure in them. Our culture does not encourage or support the pursuit of solitude.
ou may have a childhood memory of seeking solitude in nature, as you made tree forts or played imaginary games in the forest. Perhaps you searched for solitude within the pages of your favorite book. If you were fortunate enough to have a room of your own growing up, you spent countless hours there, quietly absorbed in solitary play.
As adults, we are fully steeped in the hot mess of an anti-solitude culture. We live in noisy environments with even noisier people. We lead lifestyles that are more conducive to chaos than quiet.
On the outside, I appeared calm and put-together, but internally I felt fragmented. That’s the thing about introverts; we wear our chaos on the inside where no one can see it.
The Right to Remain Silent
While at a candlelit restaurant, the couple decided to forego talking and, instead, wrote notes to one another throughout the meal. “[B]y the end of the meal we’d shared a degree of intimate information that we probably wouldn’t have if we’d just been sitting and chatting,” says Palmer.
We are eager for the pause because it gives us the chance to mentally digest what we have seen and heard.
Our culture fears silence. Gaps in conversation are quickly filled with fluffy banter.
Silence feels uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. In an impatient world of instant gratification, noise allows us to stay focused on the outside. Silence urges us to turn in. Even for introverts, the idea of turning inward can be frightening. It’s as if we are lifting a giant rock that has never been moved—anything could be under there. We imagine a colony of dark critters leaping out at us or, even worse, a poisonous snake. Silence creates space for worry, self-criticism, and obsession to seep in. Snakes rarely strike above the ankle, but our thoughts go straight for the jugular.
It’s not just our own critical thoughts that taunt us in the shadows of silence. The judgments and opinions of others reverberate through our memory, producing a flurry of guilt in their wake. Combined, these menacing thoughts create what I like to call the “Should Voice.”
Turning Down the Should Voice
“You should always say yes to an invitation.”
“You should play with the other children instead of playing alone.”
“You should smile and be enthusiastic, even if you feel otherwise.”
“You should engage in small talk and like it.”
“You should stay until the end of the party.”
“You should come out of your shell.”
“You should not spend too much time alone or others will think you are boring or depressed.”
Introverts hear these shoulds so often; they burrow their way into our psyche and overpower our inner voice. When we listen to the Should Voice we act out of obligation instead of conviction.
During my travels, I learned to live with less. My entire life fit into a small suitcase. My mental landscapes became more spare as well. The further I got away from the voices of my family, friends, and culture, the clearer my inner voice came through.
If you could climb inside my head and do a comparison of what it looked like before and after my epic journey, you would find two very different spaces.
- Pre-journey, my mind was cluttered with other people’s expectations. Every time my own thoughts and beliefs looked for a place to sit and rest, they would find that the best seats were already taken by my father, mother, siblings, friends, acquaintances, and several other people whose names I’ve long since forgotten. My own thoughts had to hover in the back of the room like second-class citizens.
- Post-journey, far fewer people inhabited my headspace. My own thoughts got the best seats.
In the past, I had made decisions to please or impress others. With more freedom and time to myself, I started examining everything I believed. I also questioned my desires and feelings, listening carefully to find out if they belonged to me or somebody else who had been taking up precious real estate in my head.
As more and more voices were evicted from my brain, making decisions became easier. The Should Voice no longer dictated my choices.
There is a big difference between saying “I should go out tonight” versus “I could go out tonight.” The first statement seems heavy, weighed down by guilt. The second statement is lighter and less daunting because the element of choice is present.
Once the Should Voice is silenced, introverts are faced with an important question: Who are you really? This is a tough one to answer. We know who people have told us we are (“you’re quiet,” “you’re shy,” “you’re different”).
We also know who people have told us we should be: someone who is outgoing, who likes to be around others a lot, and who enjoys going out and having fun. But who are you really?
I know who I am not. I am not nearly as complicated and serious as a lot of people think I am. Then again, I am not as superficial and shallow as many acquaintances assumed.
It’s a hard question to answer in the here and now after so many years of striving, comparing, and judging. So I reached back into my memory and plucked a photograph that was taken when I was nine years old.
Looking at this photograph made it easy to answer the question—I am a simple girl, who appreciates beauty.
What about you? Who are you really? You might have to reach into a far corner of your memory to find the answer. A little bit of time away from the crowd will help you to do this.
Ironically, one of the best ways to move forward on our journey toward our true nature is to retreat.
For introverts, this could mean withdrawing into nature or into our room. We might also step back from our usual social circles so we can reconnect with our inner voice.
We don’t need to find a cabin in the woods to go on a retreat.
What matters most is that our mind has space to wander without too much interruption.
One of the things I like most about this restaurant is how the employees treat me. They acknowledge and serve me with a polite warmth that is never imposing. Even though I’m a regular, they never ask me for my name or what I do. Some might view this as cold or sterile. Such people would prefer to go to the place “where everybody knows your name.” However, for introverts seeking a sliver of solitude, a sense of anonymity is bliss.
Whether our retreat is mental or physical, it does not have to be a solitary act. With the right person, withdrawing in tandem is even more rejuvenating than it would be by ourselves.
- Going for a walk in nature
- Watching and/or playing with animals
- Bringing your full attention to eating a good meal
- Reading for pure pleasure
- Any kind of creative expression, such as photography, writing, drawing, or dancing
Taking the Scenic Route
One of the by-products of an extrovert-dominated society is that everyone is always in a hurry. We feverishly race from one life milestone to the next, not even realizing that we are leaving ourselves behind in the process.
I’ve noticed that my natural pace is much slower than the status quo. I walk, talk, and read slowly. Since slowness has many negative connotations in our culture (for example, stupidity, laziness, and lack of ambition), I used to feel self-conscious about my tortoise-like ways.
For introverts, rushing through life feels a lot like running through thick mud. The faster we try to go, the more stuck we get.
The only way to emerge from the muck is by taking slower, smaller steps.
Slowing down will feel like a relief for most introverts. Moving at a slower pace gives us time to process information more deeply.
Sure, moving quickly allows us to do more, but without the opportunity to reflect on our activities, life loses its meaning.
Another problem with trying to move too fast is that it exhausts us. We think we will accomplish more, but, in the end, we burn out, get sick, or become depressed—all of which are detrimental to our productivity.
Taking the First Step
I knew I didn’t want to continue on the path I was on, but the alternative was still hazy.
There were too many options to choose from. The uncertainty threatened to swallow me whole. Where do I even begin?
While I sat there stewing in my existential crisis, the answer appeared in an unlikely form.
A black-clad homeless man with body piercings seemed to come out of nowhere and pulled up the chair right next to mine.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”
When I think of my yearlong odyssey of self-discovery, I always remember this experience as the invitation to take the first step. Beginning any new journey is scary. We are often more apt to stay stuck in the mud rather than brave the foggy realm of uncertainty. As we set out on the path toward our true nature, it helps to remember that we don’t need to have all the answers right now. We just need to take the first step. Perhaps, this moment is your invitation to begin.