Just Because I Don’t Look Excited Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Into This

Have you ever been to a workshop where the speaker bounds onto the stage and shouts, “ARE YOU EXCITED?!” Or maybe someone gleefully asks you this at a party or social gathering. If you’re an introvert like me, you might find this question daunting. I can be excited about something but I won’t show it outwardly—although the people who know me well can tell. I’m introspective and quiet by nature, so my response to the question, “Are you excited?!” can simply be “yes,” said with a smile.

People often challenge me on this: “Well, you don’t LOOK excited.” For a long time, I thought this meant there was something wrong with me. Why don’t I feel the need to jump around with glee and squeal like others?

When I was younger, I experienced bouts of depression, which took time to be diagnosed and treated. During those times I was very flat. But I hadn’t been depressed for over a decade. So what is wrong with me now, I wondered. Why am I still not bubbly?

At that time, I felt unsure of myself in social gatherings, so I tended to fade into the background. I can’t tell you the number of times people made comments like, “gee, you’re quiet”—which was true, no arguments here. What frustrated me about those comments was the tone with which they were said. The words, “gee, you have two heads” could have been said with the same tone and would have fit just as well.

I would then try to explain why I was quiet. But I never felt I could tell the truth–that I was naturally more of a listener; I was a little on the shy side; I lacked confidence in myself; and I’m an introvert. I felt I had to come up with a more plausible reason that would convince them I wasn’t a weirdo. I never did.

So I began to look at how other introverts coped, and I realized that the people I was most intrigued by were the ones who were comfortable with their quiet natures. This led me to challenge the judgments I’d made about myself. One of the beliefs I held about being an introvert was that I had to “fix” myself so I could be a more successful person. But the more I got comfortable with the idea of my introversion, the less it began to look like a problem.

Whereas in the past I would try to hide my introversion, I am now happy to tell others about it. For example, when a friend recently asked me to a social event after I’d had a busy week, I didn’t feel the need to make an excuse. Instead I told her I needed some alone time before I saw people again. Her response was, “Of course, I don’t blame you. No problem!”

In the past, my excuses were usually met with, “Oh come on, it’ll be good for you!” People can’t know that it’s not good for you if you don’t tell them what your needs are. The irony was that once I became more comfortable in the world as an introvert, the more my friends accepted me as well.

Of course there are some people who still believe that my quiet nature is not okay, and they try to push me to be more outgoing. This is a good way to filter out the people who aren’t good for you socially. And it’s not necessarily the extroverts who are a bad fit—sometimes it’s other introverts who have not accepted their own quiet nature.

Being defensive and trying to explain yourself only seems to convince people you have something to defend, and that you really are doing something wrong. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself by giving myself permission to not spend too much time with people who find it hard to understand me.

I also learned not to take responsibility for what other people made of my introspective nature or my lack of enthusiasm. I can now comfortably stand by myself at a social gathering without feeling the need to look like I’m deep in conversation with someone and having a great time. Inevitably someone will come over and start chatting anyway.

If anyone says I don’t look excited enough or I’m too quiet, I will smile and point out that it’s just my nature. I don’t feel the need to defend myself—or to spend a lot of time with those people, because it doesn’t do me any good to be around anyone who inadvertently triggers my old beliefs about myself. There will always be people I’m not compatible with, but I don’t have to be.

I used to seek those people out, thinking if I explained myself better and won them over, it would prove that I am okay. All it ever did was reveal how different I was from them and made me feel inadequate.

Underneath my reserved nature, I discovered that I’m actually a “people person” and I thrive on being in a close-knit circle of like-minded souls. I still like my alone time. I’m still working out how to balance my needs and not spend too much time with other people, which leaves me feeling drained. However, on the flip side, spending too much time alone can leave me feeling flat and unmotivated.

What many fail to see is that deep within the introvert, there is a lot going on. But rather than giving it a voice directly through talk and chatter, it is expressed through activism, journaling, painting, creating music, planting a flower garden, fighting for some special cause, or even well-placed silence.

Being an introvert isn’t wrong. Neither is being an enthusiastic extrovert. Simply put, introverts require less input from external sources than extroverts—and there is a place in the social world for all of us.

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Read this: 12 Things Introverts Absolutely Need to Be Happy


  • Jaz says:

    Leanne I love the way you share your truth. It’s honest, gentle and can easily be replicated. Thank you for holding space for your fellow introverts 🙂

  • I’ve definitely run into this. I went to a gym to try it out. One of those “free first visit & you get a trainer to help you out!” deals. He sat with me and I talked to him about my goals and he told me I had to get excited. I sat there thinking, “I’m here. I’m motivated to get in shape. What do you want?” And, almost like he was reading my mind he stood and up and said, “You gotta be like “ARGH”! Get loud! Get excited!” I just stood there, probably more shocked looking than excited.
    There have definitely been times when I thought, maybe I don’t actually feel anything. because I don’t look as excited as the others? Maybe I’m some sort of sociopath. But my counselor told me I’m not, so that makes me feel better 🙂

    • Leanne says:

      Oh I can totally relate, gyms are the worst – somehow if you’re not making noise and whirling around like a mad thing you’re not enthusiastic or ‘into it’. Ugh.

  • Ro says:

    Nicely said. I even learned a few things about myself I had never considered being associated with introversion! This is a keeper.

  • Sunny Gloria says:

    Thanks, many Thanks!!! This realky help me a lot, I’m getting divorce because of that. He never understand this about me. But now I can accept me as I am.

    • Leanne says:

      Wow that’s big – as long as you accept yourself you’ll find new people coming into your life who do as well. Good luck!

  • judith says:

    what a delightfully written article. I’m always so thrilled to read how my fellow intros find their true nature and accept it. I’ve also had to learn that not engaging; saying no; taking time for me; and so many others, are ok. You be you, politely. The world will adjust. I’ve also used others, specifically my extrovert sibling, to learn how to speak up, go out and do many things that anxiety might cause me to stumble over or shy away from. Forming those growth habits makes you stronger and accepting yourself makes you invincible – but in a quietly fierce and glorious way 🙂

    • Leanne says:

      Thanks Judith – yes the world will adjust. I also find extroverts useful to learn from and we also trade – a friend will go to a networking party and hand out my business cards while I stay home and work on her website. Both happier that way!

  • Oh my goodness, yes, this is so me. I still remember spending the weekend with a friend, and she later told me her mother complained that I “rained on their parade.” WTF? I had fun the entire time. I never said a negative word and thanked her when I left. I am kind, polite, and engaging around most people. I don’t owe anyone their expectation of how happiness or excitement is expressed. Well-written article!

    • Leanne says:

      It’s disappointing isn’t it, when people presume to know how you’re feeling because of your outward appearance. You’re right, you don’t owe anybody anything but your true authentic self!

  • Carolyn says:

    I once had a boss who accused me of being “stonefaced”, he was uncomfortable around me because he couldn’t read me. In reality, he liked to goad his employees and push buttons. By keeping my composure he never had the sick pleasure of trying to rile me up. Maybe I should have been a professional poker player! It was a small way I was able keep my dignity with a very toxic boss.

    • Leanne says:

      Hi Carolyn, I think we had the same boss!! I’m glad you didn’t let him get to you. I think those people find it difficult when they can’t read us, their problem!

  • Damaris says:

    I’ve felt this way so many times! Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one who deals with this. Little by little I’ve learned to accept myself. However, it’s taken years. Mainly because it wasn’t as accepted as it is today for people not to be outgoing and be perfectly normal. I still have more self studying to do. Thank you for this article. I enjoyed it.

    • Leanne says:

      Thanks Damaris, you are definitely not alone – I’m so glad to hear your learning to accept yourself just as you are. I find when people do that, they find others who accept them too.

  • David says:

    I can totally relate to the sentiments that you express here, Leanne. Others are getting outwardly excited about an event, or some beautiful scenery, and while it is moving me deeply I don’t feel the need, or don’t naturally start bouncing around, laughing and cheering. I express things my own way. Like you, if people don’t understand, I have learnt to just accept. But I really appreciate those who I spent some time to get to know me better, know that there is nothing wrong with me, just different. I express things in my own way….just as they do….just as everyone does.

    • Leanne says:

      Hi David, it really is about people taking the time to get to know you. Those who know me can tell when I’m excited about something because they understand how I function. Nothing wrong with us at all!

  • Yes!! My friends sometimes ask me outright if I’m bored when we hang out. And I’m not, I swear. But I don’t want to fake being extra excited just to look like I’m excited.

    • Leanne says:

      Yes there’s no need to pretend because it usually doesn’t work anyway – there have been times I’ve tried to appear bubbly and people still ask if I’m bored!

  • Andrew says:

    My ex-wife (an extrovert) helpfully () pointed this out to me when we were in the process of breaking up our 20 year marriage. She was frantically drawing graphs in the air: one zig-zagging wildly (her) and the other a gentle wave (me). How could I ‘feel’ things properly if I didn’t experience these wild swings of outward emotional response? It drove her mad; there was clearly something wrong with me. Was I undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome (Yes, she really said that)? It’s good to know I’m not the only Innie like this – thanks Leanne.

    • Leanne says:

      Hi Andrew, funny how people love to diagnose what they don’t understand! Sorry to hear you went through that but I’m glad you haven’t bought into those labels, your gentle introvert nature will be something to be celebrated with the right person.

  • vlbrown says:

    Ten years ago, I was doing a short-term technical writing contract at a large SF Bay Area company (you’ve heard of it). They offered me a full-time employee position (which I accepted). Another contractor came over and said “Are you excited?!?!?!?!” and I thought “that’s not the word I’d use. Pleased, yes. But not ‘excited’.”

  • But I AM smiling 😐

  • Jeremiah A says:

    I used to have a job in auto sales. The general manager would have meetings with us every day. They would get all excited and energetic and of course the other sales people would go nuts, too.

    But it was twice as obnoxious whenever a major sales event came around. I couldn’t quite understand why whenever they got louder I had this tendency to get quieter and wanna disappear.

    At one time, the boss drew me aside and told me, “it’s okay to have fun here! That’s what we do! This is a fun job! So have fun!” Like that would magically flip a switch on in my head.

    Since then I’ve sworn off sales jobs. Not for me!

  • kellydyce says:

    I completely relate to this! It feels so good to finally find validation that there’s nothing wrong with me, that it’s okay to be this way. It’s hard to explain to extroverted people that I am excited when I’m not outwardly jumping for joy. Sometimes I don’t even understand myself, let alone how to explain what I’m feeling to others. Whenever I’m around people who don’t “get” me I immediately withdraw and yearn to be alone, but at the same time I hate to come across as rude. Now trying to learn how to accept myself 100% and this article has really helped me.

  • Angela Rengifo Adrada says:

    Thank you for this article, so far, I have allways tried to defend myself from critics but I see it is not necessary anymore.

  • Jeanne says:

    What a great article. Thank you, this helps me. 🙂