Introverts aren’t always the silent, passive ones. They can be assertive, confident, and witty, too.
If you ask the majority of the world to describe an introvert, they will likely respond “someone really quiet and shy who likes to read and knit”! So, when I tell people I’m an introvert, someone who is assertive, confident, and witty, they seem surprised. As a child, I wasn’t the silent, passive one. I was actually quite bold, funny, and talkative. I was social in school and loved attention. What made me an introvert was being content with my alone time, recharging from it, and also craving my own space. I could get lost in my own little world for hours a day and I didn’t need other kids around to enjoy myself.
During high school, along with the inevitable awkward self-consciousness of puberty, I was also a highly sensitive person (HSP) with social anxiety stemming from growing up in a strict, conservative Muslim household. The excess alone time I enjoyed and thrived in as a child with endless imagination was now turning me into a chronic overthinker. I became shy and painfully quiet because of being in my head so much, especially in school and around people I didn’t know. These four years of my life shaped me into a true introvert for the rest of my life, meaning I found peace in my solitude and didn’t enjoy excess stimulation.
A decade later, I had a “spiritual awakening” of sorts. I realized there’s more to this existence; therefore, there is more to us as humans and as souls. After years of societal and familial conditioning, you step back into your true light. This means you become more like how you were as a child — before the world influenced you — while still accepting that everything you’ve gone through was meant to shape you into who you are. So, in my case, I am now strong-willed and fiery like I was as a kid, but I am also a person who prefers (and needs) my alone time and sacred space.
From my experience as a bona fide introvert, I’ve come to realize that there are certain things people get wrong about us.
5 Things People Get Wrong About Introverts
1. They are uncomfortably quiet. (In reality, introverts don’t want to talk just to talk.)
When you meet me, I am friendly and charismatic, and so few ever guess I am an introvert. If I am quiet, it’s because I choose to be, not because I feel awkward or self-conscious. I know what conversations intrigue me and I can go deep with, as well as which ones drain me and are surface-level. So I only partake in the former (which I’m sure fellow introverts can relate to).
However, like most introverts, I’ve had people call me “quiet” in certain situations, followed by the ever-popular “Why don’t you talk more?” They may assume I’m uncomfortable or anxious, when really I am just so comfortable and self-aware that I do not need to talk just to talk. I’d rather be saying something. Why discuss the repetitive stories on the news when we can talk about your passions and what you are doing to leave your mark on the world?
2. They are followers who don’t get ahead. (Introverts actually make great leaders!)
Another big reason people are surprised that I’m an introvert is because I stopped conforming to society and did things my own way. Like most introverts, I always struggled in corporate work environments. I am not overly competitive or excessively outspoken, and I don’t believe in the hierarchy system. The whole eight hours (or more) a day with people I couldn’t fully be myself with was energy-sucking for my introverted soul. So, in that world, I was always in “follower” positions because I wasn’t passionate enough about it then, but that wasn’t who I am. I am a true leader. And introverts make the best leaders!
After years of trying to climb the corporate 9-to-5 ladder, I stopped. I started my own business that actually aligns to my life purpose, and I create my own rules. I was in healthcare management, not feeling like I was actually making the difference I thought I would, and realizing I didn’t agree with a lot of the healthcare approaches. Now, I incorporate healing (that I actually believe in) into my business with aromatherapy and the power of words in my candle line, AromaPoetry, which is made with essential oils and includes healing poetry by me on each candle.
I also am a spiritual life coach and help guide people to heal themselves by trusting their own inner compass, something introverts naturally do. You see, introverts are great leaders when in the right environment. Our compassion and mindfulness are just a few of our introvert traits that make this the case. We are naturally innovative because we’ve had to be. We’ve always been somewhat outside the box, so we have to think outside the box.
3. They don’t like being around people. (We do like being around those who are like-minded and value deep conversations.)
Like I said before, it’s all about the right environment for introverts. Yes, like most introverts, I do not like crowds. However, some of the best times of my life have been at concerts with me in a crowd because the artist and music were worth it. Some of the worst nights of my life have been in crowds at clubs because the music was horrible and some people didn’t have a clear sense of boundaries.
The same goes for any social gathering, big or small. Although I value my “me time,” I also equally value my time with the right individuals: those who “get” me, are like-minded and support my soul. We want to connect, not just have company. Instead of just talking celebrity gossip or discussing people we know, we like to dive deep into the psychology of what that person may be going through, trying to better understand and sympathize with them. I guess you can say we are solution-seekers; that is what drives and ignites us.
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4. They are all shy, all of the time. (Honestly, it’s situational.)
I definitely have shy tendencies, especially in certain environments. And I think that’s OK. The truth is, being shy and being an introvert are two different things. While an introvert may be shy, not all shy people are introverts.
I think a lot of people assume introverts are shy no matter what they are doing or who they are with, but really, it’s often situational. One example of that is in front of the camera. Because I am not camera shy, people think I’m not a full introvert. I’ve always loved performing of all sorts since I was little. I liked to act, dance, and talk in front of the camera. So, on social media, I do the same. I see it as a platform for the arts, for creativity, for expression. Just behind one big stage. I am not shy at all in this regard. But…
…I am shy in front of a live crowd. Similarly, I’m shy in gatherings with extended family, but not in gatherings with friends. And I also hold back from going to social events alone. Some people can do this and find it easy (I suppose extroverts), but it gives me social anxiety just thinking about it. However, once I actually meet new people at those social events, I’m not shy at all.
5. They are “too sensitive,” delicate, or weak. (Because we are so introspective, we know ourselves well, which makes us strong.)
Introverts are often seen as those who have no backbone and are timid. Sure, as a highly sensitive introvert, I feel things more deeply and see things in more detail, but that doesn’t make me weak. I may sense the passive-aggressiveness or defensiveness hidden behind a “funny” joke, and take it to heart. Some may say I’m being too sensitive or fragile, but really I just pick up on the littlest things. If anything, it makes me feel stronger.
I will boldly stick up for a loved one, will not succumb to peer pressure, and do what feels right to my body. For example, if everyone around me wants me to drink, but I feel fine and am having fun just as I am, I will loudly and proudly say no. I have a dry, sarcastic humor that may catch you off-guard. I have amazing resilience and do not fear rejection or failure, and I thrive off it.
So the next time you meet someone who is charismatic and self-assured, do not assume they are an extrovert. The next time you meet someone reserved, do not assume they are an introvert. Introverts come in all varieties and flavors, and most of those do not involve them being weak-minded. The only thing that is definite is that every single one of us cannot be truly content without our alone time to replenish our energy, so we can have deep, meaningful connections in all facets of life.