As I’ve learned more about myself, I’ve realized that there is no right or wrong way to be an introvert.
I’m as introverted as they come. But I have a confession to make: Sometimes I feel like I’m doing it wrong.
Introverts are supposed to have all of these amazing strengths. We’re supposed to be introspective and self-aware, sensitive and empathetic, creative and thoughtful, and deeply attuned to our rich inner lives and to the world around us.
When I picture the ideal introvert, I imagine someone graceful, thoughtful, and poised, quietly confident and owning their introversion. Most of the time, I am not that.
In fact, often, I feel out of touch with my introverted superpowers. I struggle with creative blocks, and sometimes I feel like my intuition is off. I’m not always in touch with my sensitive, introspective side, and I’m not sure I always possess this amazing self-awareness that we introverts are famous for. I definitely do not take the time I should to recharge my batteries and be my best, introverted self.
There Is No Right or Wrong Way to Be an Introvert
My friends and family will tell you how incredibly unobservant I can be (though, to be fair, I think that’s just because I get lost in my own thoughts at times; introverts are overthinkers!). Every once in a great while, I even feel…lonely. Occasionally, I want to go out and be social and interact with the world (even though I feel like a “real” introvert would be more than happy to stay in). And, sometimes, I resent the challenges of being an introvert and wish that I was different.
But you know what? I recently realized that all of these feelings are normal and okay. As I’ve learned more about myself and what introversion really is, I’ve come to realize that there is no right or wrong way to be an introvert.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t perfectly fit the “ideal introvert” profile, or if you’ve struggled with feelings of imposter syndrome or questioned whether you’re really “introverted enough,” here are six things to keep in mind. No matter what you may think, you are not a bad introvert.
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6 Reminders for When You Feel Like a Bad Introvert
1. There are many ways to be introverted.
Introversion is not a one-size-fits-all label. We are all different — and that’s a good thing! You don’t have to perfectly fit every introverted stereotype to be an introvert. You can be an introvert and also be:
- Shy or outgoing
- Warm and friendly, or more reserved
- Fiercely private or more open
- Serious or completely goofy
- And a million other things
We are all individuals, and while introversion is a piece of who we are, it’s not the whole picture. You can be an introvert even if you have some extroverted traits. Remember that one type of introvert is not inherently better or worse than another — for instance, shy introverts are just as valid and worthy as outgoing introverts.
2. Everyone has flaws — and that’s okay.
We’ve all heard it a million times, but it’s worth saying again: No one is perfect. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and we all have some days that are better than others.
Even the most artistic, creative introverts will experience periods of writer’s block or creative burnout. Even the most thoughtful and empathetic introvert will sometimes lose their patience or have a bad day and say something without thinking (we have all said or done rash things that we regret). These moments don’t make you a bad introvert; they make you human.
It’s also okay if there are certain introvert strengths that never apply to you, even on your best days. Maybe you just don’t consider yourself to be wildly imaginative, or you don’t feel a particularly special connection to nature, or you struggle with long periods of intense focus. There’s nothing wrong with that — it just means your strengths lie elsewhere.
If, like me, you’re not (yet) the poised, graceful, quietly confident type — and you’re still working on combating your insecurities, increasing your confidence, and fully accepting your weirdness — that’s okay, too. We all have room to grow.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. Introverts need social connection, too.
Have you ever been home alone on a Friday night, after spending the whole week looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with a good book or binge a favorite TV series, only to suddenly feel restless and bored, craving a night out with friends?
For me, this happens rarely — I really do love my alone time, like when staying home, and almost never run out of ways to keep myself entertained. But every now and then, even the most introverted among us needs to be around other people.
Human beings are inherently social creatures. We all need to connect with others every once in a while. That doesn’t make us any less introverted. (Trust me — when we’ve had our fill of social interaction, we’re very ready to get back to our alone time to recharge).
4. It might take conscious effort to prioritize your needs.
I’ve realized that when I feel especially out of touch with my introversion — when I’m feeling spacey, distracted, frazzled, and uninspired — it’s often a sign that I haven’t been taking care of myself and prioritizing my needs well.
Think about it. If you don’t have the quiet time and space to think and reflect, of course you’re not going to feel introspective, creative, and self-aware. If you don’t carve out time to do the things that energize you — whether that’s reading, writing, going for a hike, or just savoring some peace and quiet over a cup of coffee — of course you’re going to feel out of touch with yourself, like you’re barely getting by and don’t even know who you are anymore.
Let’s face it: We lead busy lives, and this much-needed alone time doesn’t just magically appear in our day-to-day schedules — especially if you’re prone to people-pleasing. Even when we do happen to get pockets of alone time, we might not be using them in the most effective ways to recharge our social batteries. (Personally, I find it super easy to get caught in the trap of mindlessly scrolling on my phone, which doesn’t leave me feeling replenished; I’m sure other introverts would agree!)
Instead, most of us have to consciously make the effort to find — and protect — the time we need to recharge. As introverts, this is a crucial necessity to keep ourselves feeling, and being, our best.
When you feel like you’re being a bad introvert, consider that maybe you’re just tired, and you need to make more of an effort to prioritize yourself and your needs. No one is going to do it for you, so try to become aware of it and take that time for yourself when you need it.
5. Embracing your introversion takes time.
If you’ve ever felt ashamed of your introversion or tried to hide it, you’re not alone. We live in a world built on the extrovert ideal, and it’s natural that you might have gotten in the habit of denying your personality.
It takes effort to combat those habits and fully embrace who you are: an introvert. In the process, you might struggle to fully get to know yourself. You might even find yourself slipping back into old habits of “faking extroversion” — which could leave you feeling like a bad introvert.
My advice? Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. In a world that favors extroverted personalities, it takes time to accept your introversion and become comfortable with who you are. In fact, it’s something you’ll probably always have to work on. Keep reminding yourself of all your strengths as an introvert — from your great listening skills to your ability to focus and do deep thinking — and it’ll get easier from there. I swear.
6. These aren’t “introvert problems” — these are human problems.
Finally, remember that everybody feels insecure sometimes — introverts and extroverts alike. No one really knows what they’re doing, and everyone is bound to feel like they’re getting it wrong every now and then.
I’ve had extroverted friends confide that, at times, they envy us quiet types; we tend to think before we speak, offer insightful feedback, and approach the world from a different point of view, appreciating all the beauty and nuance life has to offer. Flaws and insecurities aside, we have some incredible strengths to offer, and many times, we have our introversion to thank for them.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is keep showing up, be who you are, and cut yourself some slack. Let go of whatever unattainable ideal you have pictured and work on embracing yourself as the amazing introvert you already are.
Introverts, what would you add to the above? Feel free to comment below!
You might like:
- The Top 8 Misconceptions About Introverts
- 7 Distinct Advantages Introverts Have Over Extroverts
- What Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Personality Type Is Lying About
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