It took a long time for me to accept that I’m an introvert. It took even longer for me to realize that being an introvert is a positive thing. Like many people, I defined introversion as a disease that needed to be cured. I thought my preference for being alone meant that something was wrong with me.
It wasn’t until my senior year in college that I realized that I was completely normal — at least as normal as up to half of the population. Today, I’ve never been more happy, or thankful, to be an introvert. In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., here are 15 reasons I’m thankful to be an introvert.
1. I rarely get bored. It may sound self-centered, but the truth is, I like myself. Being alone isn’t dull or lonely. I can always find a new book to read, a story to write, or an idea to examine. When I’m feeling less creative, Netflix and a cup of tea — or glass of wine — make for fantastic company.
2. I’m a really good listener. I’m thankful for my ability to actively listen to others. I don’t tend to get distracted or feel the need to take control of the conversation. If you open up to me about something personal and meaningful to you, I want to hear what you have to say, and I do my best to be thoughtful and empathetic in how I respond.
3. I know myself really well. My brain is a giant bookshelf stacked full of feelings and ideas. I’m constantly picking something off the shelves to explore and analyze. I’m as fascinated by understanding myself as I am others. I want to understand what influences my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Because I spend so much time in my head, I have confidence in what I know and want in life, but I’m always open to learning and growth.
4. I know other people really well, too. Since I spend more time listening and thinking than talking, I’m pretty good at reading people. I don’t just see what you want me to see. I see your intent, your dreams, your feelings, and all the other complex factors that make you who you are. Whether or not you’re in on this secret probably depends on how well you’re paying attention.
5. I have a strong work ethic. I can focus for hours. The more my work requires shutting out the world and concentrating on research and creative problem-solving, the better.
6. I’m fiercely independent. Being an independent introvert is a pro and con. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help when I need it — I’m working on that. But I love that I don’t rely on or need another person to feel happy or fulfilled.
7. In friendships, I value quality over quantity. I’ve never been the most popular person in the room, and that’s okay. I have a few people in my life who genuinely care about me, and I enjoy focusing my energy on strengthening those relationships rather than searching for new ones.
8. I love solo adventures. Whether it’s taking myself on a movie date or going on vacation with just my bag and a book, I love exploring the world on my own. When I’m by myself, I can truly observe and appreciate the world around me. I love adventures with friends and family, but exploring solo is a different sort of experience and one that I find incredibly enriching.
9. I’m a little weird. Well, maybe more than a little. As much as I’ve tried to fit into the outside world, I still have plenty of oddball quirks. The older I get, the more I embrace my weirdness — and that’s honestly much more fun.
10. People don’t always understand me. I used to think not being understood was a bad thing. The worst thing. But now I find it kind of funny. When I can tell that someone isn’t quite sure what to make of me, I’m encouraged to be even more myself. They will either end up liking what they see, or they’ll move on. I don’t have the energy to wear a mask for anyone who doesn’t appreciate what’s underneath.
11. I know my strengths and how to use them. When I learned and accepted that I am an introvert, I stopped viewing introversion as a weakness that needed repair. It was only then that I could focus on developing my strengths, and since then life has gotten so much better.
12. I’m creative. Being creative is not a trait of introversion, but my preference for alone time has allowed me time to explore my creative side in a much deeper way. When I embraced my introversion and quit trying to live an extroverted lifestyle, I finally started to tap into my innate creativity.
13. I’m comfortable in silence. Introverts rely much less on external stimulation than extroverts. Because of this, we don’t need to be doing things constantly. If I’m spending time with someone I care about, then I’m happy to simply spend time with them. There’s no pressure to constantly be talking or doing something active.
14. I value authenticity. In our extroverted world, introversion itself is an act of rebellion. Because I know who I am and what I want, I appreciate authenticity in others. I’m the person who will “like” something on social media even if I don’t personally agree with it because I can see the vulnerability behind it. I love authenticity in others, and I make a point not to judge someone who is trying to live as their most authentic self.
15. I care deeply. Many introverts are also highly sensitive. Highly sensitive people (HSPs) are easily overwhelmed and deeply affected by external stimulation. I’m extremely sensitive to the pain of others, whether it’s something I see on the news or witness at work. This empathy often feels like an enormous weight, but it’s also helped me to understand multiple perspectives and become emotionally stronger. I value my compassion and consider it one of my greatest strengths.
I’m still learning to love myself as an introvert. It’s not easy to erase a lifetime of believing my quiet nature was a flaw in my personality. I still have days when I beat myself up for not speaking out about something or letting my social anxiety get the best of me. Like every other introvert (and person) out there, I’m a work in progress. But the more I learn to embrace my introversion as a strength, the more thankful I am to be an introvert.
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Learn more: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, by Jenn Granneman