Writing provides introverts with the opportunity to edit before presenting their words to the world, which is truly invaluable.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with verbally expressing myself. If you ask people who know me what I’m like, “quiet” will likely be the most common word used (aside from close friends and family, who might laugh at this thought). I’m certainly not the life of the party — in fact, if I’m at a party, which is a rare occurrence, I’m probably playing with a pet or simply standing in a corner, observing.
Like many introverts, I’ve been accused of being rude, stuck-up, neurotic, self-centered, and some far less pleasant things because of how my silence is perceived by those around me. And honestly, most of the time, I let myself believe that they’re right. After all, why can’t I keep up an exciting conversation or graciously and effortlessly make friends everywhere I go?
I spent years believing I was less intelligent than everyone around me — even though I later realized that the dictionary definition of introversion — like those terms above — was wrong. Very wrong.
Yet I still felt like I didn’t really have anything worth saying, and I struggled to keep up with people who could naturally dominate a conversation. But when I began writing, I found that I did have things to say — I just needed a different avenue to share my thoughts.
Why Writing Is Easier for Me Than Speaking
One of the first things I learned once I began writing is that it is much easier for me to jot my thoughts down on paper than speak them out loud. When I began researching what it means to be an introvert, I discovered I wasn’t alone in this. And there’s a scientific reason! As introverts, our brains work differently to process information. Instead of making quick connections and allowing our thoughts and mouths to work in sync, our brains tend to rely on long-term memory, which means those connections can take longer for us to make.
This is why, if you’re like me, words may fail you in the moment, only to have exactly what you should have said come to you on the drive home or in the shower the next morning. It doesn’t mean we’re less intelligent or articulate than anyone else around us — it just takes us longer to process what is going on, formulate our thoughts, and then translate them into words.
(Read more about the science behind why writing is easier than speaking for introverts.)
For many introverts, writing can feel like a shortcut for this long process. There’s just something about typing away on a keyboard or scrawling on a pad of paper that causes the words to flow. When you consider this, it’s no wonder so many introverts find writing to be therapeutic.
In addition to giving us a judgment-free way to get our thoughts out, writing also provides the opportunity to edit before presenting our words to the world, which is truly invaluable. Since I spend hours after conversations overthinking what I said vs. what I should have said, the ability to read, edit, and reread what I’ve written helps ease my mind (most of the time, at least).
Having the time to fully research and find information on whatever I’m writing about is also something that has helped me gain confidence. Instead of being caught off-guard by a conversation and struggling to remember where I read something or who to credit for a quote, I can take my time and find sources to cite. It provides me with an extra level of preparedness that I need before putting myself out there.
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Discovering What I’m Passionate About
One thing many introverts need to be happy is a deeper meaning and purpose in life. Some people seem to inherently know what theirs is, while others struggle to find their place. Whether it’s something you do to contribute to that purpose or to discover what it may be in the first place, writing is a powerful tool.
Once I began embracing writing, I found that I had the opportunity to dive into topics that I’m passionate about: introversion, animals, and creative writing, to name a few. I could research for hours to learn more about things that fascinated me, then turn that knowledge into an article or story that, hopefully, someone else would find interesting or helpful, too.
While I’ve always been interested in these topics, I struggled with feeling like I had to fight my introversion to make a difference. For example, I love animals, so I became an adoption counselor at a Humane Society. While getting to care for the animals and working to find them the perfect home sounded like an amazing and fulfilling job, I very quickly found myself burned out and anxious from hours of talking to people, dealing with conflict about things like declawing and training methods, and worrying about the animals in the shelter.
Thankfully, I’ve since found a full-time job that is a much better fit for me and leaves me with enough energy after work to volunteer to help write and edit a newsletter for a shelter. In working on this newsletter, I’ve found a way to help that utilizes my strengths, reaches more people than I ever imagined I could have, and allows me to help other animals while still spending time with my own fur babies.
Challenging My Comfort Zone — But on My Own Terms
Although I now accept and embrace my introversion, I know there are times when it’s healthy to challenge myself and leave my comfort zone. With writing, I’ve found a way to do that while still being true to my quiet nature. I don’t have to be great at public speaking or have the ability to navigate hours of networking events. Instead, I can stay at home and write while drinking hot tea and cuddling with my pets.
The true challenge comes with sharing my work and allowing others to read what I’ve written. It always feels like a risk, but it does feel like a more manageable one. After all, I have the choice of whether to share my writing or not. And while I do try to write with the intent of sharing it (whether in an article like this or a short story), sometimes it’s just not something I’m ready to send out into the world.
There is a paradox that comes with any creative endeavor of wanting to share our creation with the world, yet not wanting to be seen. Whether it’s writing, music, or art, many introverts are naturally creative, but we also tend to shy away from the spotlight. Having the freedom to put myself out there on my terms — after I’ve rewritten something 20 times to get it just right or done enough research to be confident in what I’ve written — has been pivotal to helping me find my voice.
I’m still an introvert. I’m still quiet. I still don’t thrive in social settings. I still overthink everything I say. But now I can recognize that I also have valid thoughts and feelings, and I do have something to contribute. Through writing, I’m learning more about myself than I ever imagined. It may have taken me awhile to find it, but I do have a voice. And don’t forget, dear introverts, so do you.