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People I know always ask me, “Why are you so quiet?” I sometimes even ask that question to myself. I don’t have a clear-cut answer to this question. Possibly I was born as a quiet person and I don’t have to change who I am.
I often think that the whole world is designed for extroverts. In school, it often seems like “you are so outgoing” is the best comment that someone could give to another person. Many times teachers did ask me to speak up more. I always wondered how some of my classmates were able to chat all the time with others, whereas I am not able to. Initially, during school presentations, I would get nervous and uncomfortable that everyone was looking at me. Then slowly I got comfortable and more social with people. Now I can talk about any favorite topic for an hour at least. I can dance or do public speaking on stage without much fear. Little by little, everything got easier. Internally I have not changed much; I still feel exactly like any other introvert would feel. But now I know how to cope up with the other side of the world – extroverts!
The process of understanding my limitations and powers was not that easy. Before, I always wanted to be like other outgoing kids and questioned myself a lot. I always thought, Am I normal? Why am I not like the other kids? After my own long research through online articles, I understood that it’s nothing but the fact that I am an introvert and whatever behaviors I exhibited are completely normal. Introverts need some time to actually find out and explore who they are as human beings. I researched online and read some books about the topic. One of the books I liked a lot is Quiet Power by Susan Cain. The author wrote about her experiences as an introvert and in the book, she referred to herself as being “in the world that couldn’t stop talking.” Yes, that’s exactly how I feel inside. She also wrote about other kids’ experiences as the quiet ones. I would recommend that book to anyone going through the same situation as me. It instilled more confidence in me and helped me talk to people more easily. More importantly, it made me realize that there are many other people like me in this world, and it helped clear up a lot of misunderstandings about quiet people. Here are some of the main points I took away from this book:
- Introversion and shyness are not the same things. People think that introverts are shy just because they are quiet at times. Take the example of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. He is an introvert too! He’s one of the best public speakers, and he has led our country as a president.
- The most common misconception is that introverts are poor public speakers, and they don’t like to make eye contact with people. It’s true that introverts, because they are quiet, might not like being up on stage with all the attention. But they can also be very confident speakers and are able to express their feelings when they feel comfortable.
- Introverts might not show many facial expressions and emotions, and it might look like they aren’t interested in what someone is saying, but they can be as emotional and funny as any other extrovert. Take the example of comedians such as Steve Martin and Woody Allen. Even though they are introverts, they are famous for their funny jokes. It’s hard to believe that even some of the world’s iconic Hollywood actors are introverts.
The overall sentiment is that introverts can do anything that extroverts can do.
Of course, there are some parts of the social world that introverts may feel are hard to connect with. I, being an introvert, generally don't like going to parties with a lot of noise. The fear of being with other people that I am not related to makes it a whole lot harder to make friends. Without the proper company, it’s hard for introverts to enjoy parties. I have always preferred to sit with my parents at our community parties because I didn’t have the proper fun company.
I used to get tired after talking for a long time with my friends. Introverts might need more “alone time’’ to rejuvenate after any social conversation. It’s not that they don’t like to mingle with people or talk. They prefer to be surrounded by a small group of people during a gathering and preferably more like-minded ones. I can talk for an hour or so on my passionate subject areas like robotics, historical events, or fun trivia facts. Many times my parents were surprised to see me in a “talkative mood.” Introverts may not usually initiate the conversation, but it all depends upon their interests, ambiance, and most importantly, their comfort zone.
To all the introverted adults and teens out there, here is some advice to tackle the fear of not fitting in or not being normal:
- Always let your imagination flow and give yourself some time to just relax. Remember that being quiet helps your brain focus more and organize better. I, myself, am a deep thinker and a good listener. Don’t worry about what others say about you. Focus on what’s inside your mind, and consider that you being quiet is actually a “magic power.”
- Find your passion and use it in a way that you are comfortable with. In school, I found out that I am very passionate about math, science, and other STEM-related topics. I love to read about all amazing things on Wikipedia. Introverts usually have a great ability to focus on multiple things at a time.
- Make sure to communicate well with your closest friends and let them know what you are going through. It’s never fun to be lonely and without any friends. But never rush and change yourself to fit in. Being yourself is important and your true friends will understand.
- Get enough alone time to re-energize. Normally, you can get drained easily by loud noises or social interactions lasting for long periods.
I am now happy and comfortable with who I am, and I am eager to explore more about my introverted mind power. I have enjoyed the process of getting to know myself better, and I would like to continue to learn more as I grow.