I Thought I Had an Ugly Personality

The following is an excerpt from The Irresistible Introvert: Harness The Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World, by Michaela Chung.

“Why do you always disappear like that?” my friend asked. “I had no idea where you were.”

By fifteen, I had been wandering off for as long as I could remember. To me, it was as natural as daydreaming. Now my friend was telling me that she had noticed my disappearing acts, and it bothered her. My invisibility cloak wasn’t working as well as I thought it was. What else had others noticed about me that wasn’t to their liking?

I already sensed that I was different, but it wasn’t until high school that people began to comment on it. “You’re really quiet,” they said. “What’s wrong?” Usually nothing was wrong; I was happily fantasizing, or observing. After a while, though, I began to think that they were right. Maybe there was something inherently wrong with me. I would later learn that about one third to one half of the world’s population feels just as flawed and misunderstood as I was. But we’ll get to that later.

Right now, there was something else about my teenage years that I think I should mention. After the awkward puberty years passed, there was a certain comment I received even more often than “you’re quiet.” Once again, my invisibility cloak was failing and people were eager to tell me their observations about me. This time, what they had to say was more complimentary.

People were telling me I was beautiful by the time I entered high school. I had a pretty face, good hair, nice eyes—great! According to the popular shows at the time (Dawson’s Creek, Party of Five, 90210), being beautiful was the ultimate VIP pass. It got you into the cool crowd, and made boys like you. More importantly, it gave you something to work with. Beauty was a winning hand to play when love and acceptance were on the table. However, when I still felt like an outsider among my peers despite my outward beauty, I was left to wonder: do I have an ugly personality?

Our culture is great at reinforcing the idea that introversion is unattractive. We introverts have long been depicted as the ugly little sister of extroversion. Extroverts are attributed with all the attractive qualities: charisma, friendliness, confidence. Meanwhile, introverts get the tattered hand-me-downs. We are labeled as withdrawn, anti-social and depressed. A while ago I received an email from an introverted man from Switzerland named Claude. The story he shared sounded all too familiar:

Yesterday, I started an English course. The first lesson was about “finding the real you.” We had to match character adjectives with meanings 1-10. I had matched “introversion” with “self-reliant” and gave it a positive meaning.

“No,” said our teacher. “Introversion matches to withdrawn and is generally seen as negative. And extroversion is seen as positive.” BAAH. It made me furious. I immediately felt that feeling of “something is wrong with me” again.

Stories like Claude’s are quite common. With all the misconceptions about us, you would think that introverts are a small and freakish minority. As alluded to earlier, introverts make up roughly one half to one third of the world’s population. Yet, the qualities that are as natural to us as breathing—the very same qualities that we share with millions of other introverts across the globe—make us feel defective. Just like me, many introverts come to believe that there is something wrong with them. I have received many messages from introverts who say that they felt a sense of vindication after discovering their introversion. Somehow, learning that they are not the only ones who are quiet and inwardly inclined made them feel like it was finally okay to be who they were. They breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they are not strange or defective. They are simply introverts.

Want to keep reading? You can get your copy of The Irresistible Introvert on Amazon.

What About You?

Have you thought you had an “ugly personality”? I’d love to hear your experiences and insights in the comments below.  retina_favicon1

Read this: How I Learned to Love Myself as a Highly Sensitive Person


  • Chad says:

    As I keep reading this blog, I keep seeing this “something is wrong with me” trope. I feel quite the opposite. I think something is wrong with everyone else. Maybe I’m being arrogant or self-centered, but I feel like the only healthy normal person on the planet. I’m by no means perfect, but at least I feel like I’m not crazy. If you ever see a guy out in public with his head NOT buried in his phone… it’s probably me.

  • Jane says:

    But I’m not pretty, with a [questionably] bad personality… (Not a good combination).

    • disappearing says:

      It is not true, it is only a matter of compatibility, and I know that there are men who will want you with your flaws

  • Janet Triviliuno says:

    I have always felt like this girl, that there is something wrong with me, but with your help I have come to accept myself as is and. It is a great relief. Thank-you so very Much. In all my life I have never had good therapy as you give and I have been through lots. Thank-you again!

  • Emma M says:

    What a lovely article. Particularly after a friend introduced me to Susan Cain’s “Quiet,” I’ve come to love my introverted personality in recent years, but it wasn’t always that way… For 3 years I dated a man who, unknowingly, contributed to my self-doubt and made me feel like a freak for being “shy.” We’d go to social gatherings, and from the sidelines I’d see other, extroverted girls with glowing personalities and infectious smiles as the type of girls most visibly liked, so I came to associate extrovertedness with likeability. When I’d discuss my fears that I was unlikeable to my boyfriend, he’d actually reinforce those fears by insisting I needed to be *more* like those women — that I needed to “put myself out there” more and stop being so quiet at gatherings, that my tendency not to socialize meant I was a naturally cold person who needed to change my heart and become a “better” person. It never occurred to me in that relationship that being quiet could ever be seen as a positive (socially or even morally) or loveable attribute, or that the only thing that I needed to change was how I loved and accepted my fundamental self. I’m grateful everyday that he finally dumped me for not evolving into a social butterfly, or I might have never learned how awesome it is to be a turtle! 😉 (Sorry, “Quiet” reference.)

  • K says:

    I feel like there’s something wrong with me but know there is not when I am considerate to everyone because I would at least like to be acknowledged too.

  • Dani says:

    Wow. I completely agree with the comment above from Chad. I have always felt “normal” and that everybody else is off. I don’t live on social media and I don’t care about the popular crowd, fitting in, current trends, etc. I’m happy with a book, my garden and family. It’s everybody else out there trying to compete on Facebook and whatnot that seem unhealthy to me.

  • N says:

    It seems like everyone has more friends than I do. They have people asking them to hang out with them and I don’t experience that because (I assume) I’m boring. But boring to THEM, not to myself. I think I’m pretty interesting but that most people don’t appreciate it, if that makes sense. In any case, I always have to plan get togethers which are rarely reciprocated and it hurts me deeply to be so easily overlooked.

    I feel lonely, yet when I am with people they exhaust me, especially because they want to do all the talking and it bothers me that I am nothing but a sounding board to them. Whenever I get a word in edgewise I can sense their disinterest so I tend not to say everything that’s on my mind. I still can’t figure out whether it’s because I’m that uninteresting to other people or if most people don’t want to listen to anyone else and I’m just better at picking up on those sentiments (since it doesn’t seem like other people notice when they are boring the hell out of ME with their long drawn out stories).

    I feel so conflicted inside from feeling lonely when I’m not with people but exhausted when I am. It’s like I want something that doesn’t exist. There are but a handful of people who I don’t feel this way around and it’s frustrating not being able to find more.

  • I think you’re marvellous – even though I’m more extroverted you sure helped me see why sometimes I just turn to my inner self. My inner self is a lot more interested in how I think and feel than anybody else who finds the need to tell me about themselves and is not in the least bit interested in me.

  • Hannah says:

    i could totally relate to this post 🙁 im already in college and almost every single day my classnates would comment on how im quiet and that i only speak when needed in class like reports and recitations but otherwise they couldnt get me to speak about anything unless i would be talked to/asked directly. i dont even know how to explain it whenever they ask me why im a quiet person, although it actually does depend on the people im with too. this leads me to think that im such an odd person, like where else would you meet such a quiet person like me? it felt like im the only like this at times…although im actually veryyy chatty when talking to people online. it bothers me too that my only friend in class seems to be getting annoyed of how there are plenty of moments when im just quiet so i try to bring up topics about school and such. i hope people could be more understand and accepting.