As a lifelong introvert, one of the things that has brought me so much satisfaction is surprising people. For whatever reason, us introverts are seen by certain people as having some pitiful disability that stops us from accomplishing anything in life. So when we do something “out of the ordinary”, it can surely blow people away.
My first taste of this sweet satisfaction was when I was 10 years old. I had signed up for a summer theatre camp, which was the first time I experienced performing on stage. I immediately fell in love with everything we had done during that summer, from the rehearsal process to the final curtain call. Never would I have thought that singing and dancing on stage would make me feel so free and invincible.
When the final show was over, the cast and I went out into the lobby to greet our fans. This was when I was approached by my former art teacher who said, “Nicole, I didn’t think you could speak!”
Even though I had no response to her exclamation (from my memory, I think I just smiled and nodded), I couldn’t help but feel a little happy inside. My inner alter-ego was rubbing her hands together saying, “Yes, I have fooled you all! Mwa-haha.”
Throughout the following 7 years that I participated in musical theatre, I continued to enjoy the satisfaction of surprising people whenever I would perform. Nobody ever saw it coming because most people’s idea of a stage performer is someone who is outgoing and bubbly. It became my mission to prove them wrong – the rare species of reserved showgirls exists!
My love for performing became an early lesson in how complex we as humans can be. How could someone like me, who’s “SO introverted”, possibly find a passion in stage performance?
Because I am not only an introvert, that’s why!
Since I started writing this series, I have encountered a lot of introverts who really get down on themselves over what they see as their weakness. They get frustrated over their struggles with their relationships, fitting in, or accomplishing their goals and they blame it all on their introversion. Often times they have the mentality of, “Well if I wasn’t SO introverted, everything would be better.”
The point that they miss is that we are all a beautiful concoction of so many different qualities which makes it hard to blame everything on just one thing. Likes recipes, we are all made of varying traits; more of this, less of that, a lot of this, none of that…
To be able to live comfortably in our sparkly shells, we must first own our introversion with confidence. When we make it our friend rather than our enemy, it becomes easier to assess our personal struggles. Think about how quick we may be to blame someone we don’t like for something going wrong. We automatically blame them because of our distaste for them when they may not even be the one to look at!
This is the mistake a lot of introverts make. Since we are often told there is something wrong with us, our introversion becomes the enemy that takes the hit for anything negative in our lives. When we remove the negative feelings we associate it with, it becomes just one in the crowd of our personality. This makes it easier for us to assess why things are going wrong.
For example, the reason why you can’t land a job may not be because you are introverted but because you’re being close-minded about the jobs you choose to apply to. Or maybe your low self-confidence is why you have a hard time dating, not your reserved personality.
Think about it!
I’m not going to let introversion get off too easy here though – it can be to blame for some things!
Let’s think of it like a bowl of fruit. Some pieces of fruit may be perfectly fresh and ripe while others are not quite there yet. Certain aspects of our introversion may be more perfected than others. Maybe you have no problem making friends but have a hard time communicating at work. Maybe you have found a partner that you love, but struggle with balancing your needed alone time and your budding relationship.
Only in these specific situations am I allowing you to pass the buck onto your introversion! We need to learn to see ourselves as many different pieces put together into one person and understand that we are more than our reserved and introspective nature. Those flaws are the things we should focus on improving, not dwelling upon. Introverts are so special in that we are so unique. Let’s embrace that instead of shaming it!