An Introvert and Proud
I feel very lucky to have the mum I have. A mum who really understood what introversion really was, a mum who spent most of her time coaching parents of introverted children to stop them trying to fix them, a mum who when told I was quiet in class asked, ‘…and your point is?’ I am thankful that I had a mum who never once made me feel like being quiet and considered was bad.
My mum, I might add, is a huge extrovert.
I think I was a bit of a shock to her, a quiet baby who was happy just to play alone, doing her own thing, never really making much noise or much of a fuss. Not your usual screamer, no real temper tantrums to speak of or so she says, I was just quiet.
As I got older I didn’t really change much and my mum, ever the learner, read the book Quiet. It changed the way she thought about me and thought about introverts. As an extrovert, she said she could never really understand the way I was but never thought it was wrong and never insisted I did anything I was obviously uncomfortable with.
We often have conversations about what introversion is and what it means. In tests that I did, I come out as 97 % introvert, so we are not talking just a little bit introverted here.
Here are the conclusions we have come to, or my mum came to about introverts as children.
1. As babies they are quiet and very sensitive to their environments; in essence they notice, feel more and are are affected more by what is around them.
2. They are contemplators; they often won’t make quick or on-the-spot decisions. They want to think things through, test how they feel and then come to a conclusion. They can’t really be rushed.
3. They are not shy. People often underestimate them saying they are shy and not confident, but that is not true; they just don’t feel the need to make unnecessary noise.
4. They like being with other people. There is often the belief that they don’t like being with others but this is simply not true, it’s just that they refuel their tanks by being alone.
5. When given new information, they want to absorb it and think about it first before rushing in.
And the biggest thing for us is they often spend most of their lives thinking they are wrong.
In the Western World we have something called the Extroverted Ideal. It’s the belief that behaving like an extrovert is the best way to be; think putting your hand up in class, participating in role plays, etc. Our whole system is set up to reward extroverts and punish introverts; a look at any school report will find evidence of this.
Parents often code their behaviour as under-confident, their desire to be alone as a mental health issue and their difficulty in making on-the-spot decisions as indecisiveness.
And the truth is that none of these are correct at all. Introverts just do things differently and don’t need fixing. However, what happens is that most introverts think that they do and spend most of their lives wishing they were open, gregarious, confident and a host of other things and consequently end up very miserable.
I feel like I’ve spent most of my life so far explaining to people why I am none of the things they think of me, why I don’t necessarily need to take part in order to get something and why I’m perfectly fine by myself, thank you very much.
I’m one of the lucky ones who got through childhood not thinking there was anything wrong with me, not trying to change myself and realising that there is a power in quiet contemplation. And I’m forever grateful for that.
And I think a lot of the work I do now is giving introverts permission to just be themselves.
You see, being a content creator and an introvert means I do things differently. From the content I post, the poses and the way I share my life, it’s all a little behind a veil of mystery, not because I feel I am mysterious in anyway but because the introvert in me doesn’t feel the need to add to the noise.
If you look at my poses they are never in-your-face or big poses, I’m often looking away from camera, trying to make myself look smaller or hiding my face, not because I lack confidence but because my poses start from within, they are an inner feeling and not an outward moment. I think people that are more viewers than participants of my work.
Would I be further along in my career if I did huge outward poses, smiled at camera and invited people in more? Maybe, but it just wouldn’t be me.
My stories hardly ever have me in, I’m trying to change this but it’s hard because it’s not about me, it’s about the work, and I don’t feel the need to share everything as an extrovert might. Would I get more views if I did? Yes perhaps, but again it wouldn’t be me.
As I write this the world is in Coronavirus lockdown and while everyone is sharing everything they are doing, I’m trying not to. I’m thinking about how I can most be of service to my followers and trying to make sure everything I do is thoughtful and appropriate.
I’m not saying any of this to say that I’m better, but just to say the way I do things is and always will be different. I’m an introvert and proud and I can’t and won’t change that to get the numbers or the followers as it just wouldn’t be genuine.
Even if you take a look at the brands I work with they all tend to be much quieter, much less noisy and commercial.
My introversion affects everything I do and as introverts we have an important part to play in the world. When we start to embrace the good things about what we do, we start to carve a niche for ourselves and stop allowing ourselves to feel wrong. When you think about it, at least 50% of the world is most likely introverted, just waiting for us to let them know it’s OK to be them.
Take the work I do at the moment as an example. Being an introvert means,
• The poses and pictures I take at a location are most likely going to be very different to that of everyone else’s, due to the fact introverts just pose differently.
• I have a whole process I go through to work with brands, which is very considered. I don’t get super excited at every brand that comes along, I think about it a lot, too much sometimes. The result for my followers is that things I promote I have genuinely thought about a lot.
• I won’t just post or share for the sake of it. If I share something it’s because in some way it means something to me. I think a lot before I post anything.
• There will be times when I take time out and time away and show you that it’s OK not to be always on the go and involved in everything.
• I’m less likely to follow the next big trend and stick to my own thing because I tend not to need validation from others.
• I’m likely to have a slightly different view of things, as introverts often do.
• Most importantly, I think I’m going to be able to talk to the introverts because I really do get what it is like to be introverted.
Of course, I’m not saying that I am these and extroverts are not what I’m saying is that as an introvert I think I bring something unique to the table as do extroverts, just that extroverts haven’t spent there whole life thinking they were wrong.
I think that my reason for writing this is to make a call to all introverts to embrace who they are without the need to feel extroverted, without making themselves wrong.
The journey for us is not easy, but it is rewarding. We have value and it’s about time we realised that and carved a space for ourselves.
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