The No. 1 thing I wish I’d known sooner as a highly sensitive introvert? There’s nothing “wrong” with being “too quiet” or “too sensitive.”
Sometimes I wonder how — or if — my life would have been different had I known sooner that I was a highly sensitive introvert. What kind of memories would have been different? Would I have been spared of many heartaches? So many questions…
I’m not thinking about these things because I’m not content with my life. Actually, I could never think of a time when I had been more at peace with who I am.
But it would have been wonderful to know I was an introvert — and a sensitive one, at that — much earlier on. I could have told my younger self all about how to live an amazing life — while also staying true to who they are and using all their highly sensitive introvert strengths to their advantage. Here are just some of the things I wish I’d known sooner.
5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Sooner as a Highly Sensitive Introvert
1. There’s nothing “wrong” with being “too quiet” or “too sensitive.”
When I was younger, I couldn’t help but think that there was something “wrong” with me. While other people naturally formed many groups of friends, I could only connect to one or two at a given time. While other people were happy going to parties, I was happier staying home (preferring to read a book or simply composing a song).
Had I known that introverts (and many highly sensitive people) naturally crave — and need — “alone time,” I would have had less guilt just being me. I wouldn’t have forced myself to go to parties and socialize with people. And I wouldn’t have pretended to like it when I secretly wished I could be at home (alone) instead.
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2. Being “different” can also mean being unique (in a good way).
Growing up, I couldn’t help but feel I was somehow different from my peers — “different” in a “bad” way. I just couldn’t enjoy the same things that my classmates enjoyed, like going out for the whole day or talking about things that didn’t interest me at all. (Small talk was even a thing as a kid, and I knew it wasn’t for me!)
I also wasn’t the one to hang out long after classes were over like the other kids did. In my mind, it was better to go home and study rather than spend idle time doing nothing or not knowing what activity ideas people had in mind (that were probably not introvert-friendly anyway).
It would have been very comforting to know that being “different” didn’t have to have a negative connotation. Instead of being the “weird” girl, I could have thought about how unique and special I was: I was good at focusing on projects, loved living inside my head, and got energy after spending time alone. Plus, the more sensitive side of me was great picking up on little things and noticing nuances others missed.
3. Highly sensitive introverts may have their vulnerabilities, but they also have plenty of strengths.
I was very familiar with my perceived “weaknesses” — well, what I believed to be weaknesses at the time, like being “too quiet” (which people often liked to tell me) and “too sensitive” (I felt things on a very deep level). During our homeroom sessions, many of my classmates also said I should exert more effort in reaching out to people. (Easier said than done!)
How I hated those times. Instead of coming out of school feeling better, I almost always felt worse. Why is it that people could easily point out what they didn’t like about me, but found it hard to see the good traits I had?
Later in life, I discovered that we introverts — and highly sensitive people — have a lot of strengths (contrary to what my grade school classmates led me to believe). I wasn’t just the “shy” and “quiet” person who people thought was “weird” for sitting in a corner talking to no one. I was also the friend who could listen well to others’ problems and understand — from the heart — what they were trying to say (even if they weren’t directly coming out and saying it; we highly sensitive introverts are great at reading people through body language and nonverbal cues. I also think, and feel, deeply, so my level of empathy is high. And I’m careful with my words, because I know all too well what it’s like to be hurt. (Plus, let’s not forget the sensitive side of me, so I speak to others how I wish they’d speak to me.)
Suffice it to say, there are so many positives that come with being a highly sensitive introvert — and I only wish I would have acknowledged them sooner! But better late than never, right?
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4. Knowing more about my highly sensitive — and introverted — nature could have helped me learn to better manage my emotions.
I have always thought of myself as a moody person, another negative trait I couldn’t get out of my mind. While I can be very patient, there were times when my patience would run out and my temper showed up, seemingly out of the blue.
What I have now come to realize is that many of my former “mood swings” were actually a result of failing to recharge myself by finding some time alone. (Both introverts and highly sensitive souls benefit from this.)
For example, back when I worked as a field auditor, I had to spend most of my time with teammates. Besides being busy at work, we were also busy trying to explore the places we were assigned to. We used to do all kinds of activities, like hiking, spelunking, and traveling to faraway tourist destinations.
I must admit, I enjoyed many of the activities we did. But if I were to go back in time, I would have been much more cognizant to not burn myself out from trying to do too much. For the more I did, the more my energy would drain. I would have respected my personal limitations and boundaries more, and found quality time to recharge before feeling utterly exhausted.
5. Being a highly sensitive introvert helps fuel my writing.
I have always felt a passion for writing. When I was growing up, I thought it was “just a hobby” and was fond of writing poems and songs. I also kept a journal, where I wrote some of my innermost thoughts. (Both introverts and highly sensitive people like to journal to process our emotions and feelings.)
Later in life, I slowly discovered how my passion for writing could be more than a hobby. I have realized how it could be a career that perfectly matches my personality. Through writing, I can reach out to people in my own, unique way and make an impact on the world around me.
Part of me wishes I’d known earlier that I could be a writer: It’s a job that’s ideal for a quiet person like me, and a place where I can finally find my voice. But — it’s never too late.
You might like:
- What It’s Really Like Being a Highly Sensitive Introvert
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