As an introvert, I can figure things out on my own and don’t need anyone else to pad my self-esteem.
I’ve been an introvert in an extrovert’s world all my life. Even though I’m pretty outgoing for an introvert — I enjoy hanging out with friends, going to visit new places, taking road trips, and having new adventures — it always ends the same way. After a set amount of time, I’ll get weary and need to go back home to my quiet space: back to my things, my controlled environment, and my right level of energy.
It’s just how I am.
I tried to be more extroverted and social. I really did. But it always felt fake because I was being fake. Eventually, I stopped trying to be something I wasn’t, and nestled into my introversion. That’s when I began to flourish.
Some people who don’t understand introversion may see it as a weakness thanks to the myths that still surround the identity — that we’re shy, that we’re anti-social — but the true nature of introversion has always made me feel more independent, more capable, and more resourceful than my extroverted peers.
We do ourselves — and the world — a disservice by trying to be something we’re not. Introverts have a quiet, unlimited power that too often goes untapped because the world doesn’t always understand that our differences make us strong.
You Can’t Fight Human Nature
Introversion blossoms differently in everyone, but it’s been coming through loud and clear in my life ever since I was a baby. My mom said I mostly kept to myself unless my curiosity drove me to pull things out of cabinets and drawers in the kitchen.
My mom would know. She’s an introvert, which is probably why she ended up being the first person in my life who made me feel okay about being introverted. She would often find a place to be by herself and quietly read. I believe it was her calm, gentle influence that allowed me and my siblings to be ourselves — introverted or otherwise.
Once I saw how comfortable my mom was in her own skin, I felt at home to do the same. As I slowly but surely embraced my introversion, it pushed me to become a stronger version of myself.
Picture this: One year in high school, I went shopping at the mall for a homecoming dress. I was alone, as usual, and picked up a few that I liked, before going into the dressing room to try them on. I saw troves of girls wandering around looking at dresses, holding them up for their friends to see. More than once, a girl came out wearing a beautiful dress she clearly loved, only to have her “friends” tell her she could do better or that it was ugly.
Unlike those girls, I felt quietly self-assured in my skin because I’d spent so much time by myself. I relished the fact that I never had to check in with anyone about what my likes and dislikes were. It was always up to me.
Although the extroverted world often makes it seem like we don’t fit in, I’ve found that the more I embrace my introversion, the stronger I’ve become. Here are a few other ways that’s happened.
How My Introversion Pushed Me to Be Stronger
1. I figure things out for myself.
As introverts, we spend a lot of time in our heads. But we tend to be creative problem-solvers, so what we’re really doing is turning things over and over in our minds to find unique solutions or new ways to think about a situation.
For me, I started out being too shy to ask questions when I didn’t understand something. I didn’t want to look dumb or like I hadn’t been paying attention. Sometimes that tendency made things more difficult for me, and now I’ve learned to speak up when it’s really necessary.
Ultimately, though, I believe this tendency helped me become more resourceful. I read a lot on my own, so I’ve come to think about things differently. It makes me a better problem-solver because I never really take anything at face value.
2. I’ve built my own self-esteem.
I have always found it more difficult to make and keep friends because, like many introverts, I value deep friendships but don’t often find people I click with. It also didn’t help that, growing up, my family always stayed in one place while other families came and went. I never had a group of friends that lasted from kindergarten to high school graduation. (And I sure did envy those movies about friends reconnecting at their 10-year reunions.)
Without a regular group of friends, I did a lot of things by myself. This instilled a quiet confidence in my own abilities because I didn’t need anyone else telling me I could do it — I already knew I could (like that dress-shopping experience I mentioned earlier).
It was nice when I had friends by my side, but I did not need them to be there. And while it was sometimes lonely, I also found my own presence quietly reassuring. I gained a great deal of mental energy from being on my own, energy which I used to learn about myself and gain a greater deal of confidence.
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3. I’ve learned how to process my own emotions and comfort myself.
Speaking of being alone a lot of the time, it also taught me how to console myself. It helped me build a certain mental toughness because I learned over time that I could get myself through anything. It’s great to have a support system in place, but it became equally satisfying to know that being alone — and being okay being alone — trained me to read my emotions more specifically, and take better care of myself when no one else could.
I also have valuable conversations with myself about diving beneath general feelings and analyzing specifics, like whether I actually want to quit something or just take a break from it. In many ways, extroverts rely on others to build their energy reservoir and self-esteem, but because introverts gain their energy through self-reflection and alone time, they can learn to rely on themselves to an even greater extent — and that’s pretty powerful.
4. I’m more observant.
It may seem like extroverts know everything about human behavior because of how much time they spend in social environments, but introverts have them beat when it comes to observation. Observation isn’t just a key leadership skill — it’s also important when it comes to relationships. Introverts understand people just as well (maybe better), because we spend a great deal of our time studying others and reflecting on their behavior.
Even though the world may seem like it prefers action over thought at times, my powers of observation have helped me be a better wife, friend, and technician.
5. I have greater self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence, and a particular skill that introverts have thanks to our preference for alone time and self-reflection.
I would rather sit at home with my thoughts than go out to a bar and be around loud, shallow conversations. Or sit at home with my introverted husband and talk over big, meaningful ideas with him. I also prefer the conversation I get to have in my head with the author of a book I’m reading, especially if that author happens to have written a self-help book. I love figuring out ways to improve myself and understand my mind better because I spend so much time there. It’s like studying interior design for your home.
I can’t speak for all introverts because our experiences are so different, but I’ve found that being introverted has pushed me to be a stronger person in ways I couldn’t have been if I’d been born as an extrovert. I love being introverted!
I encourage you to grow stronger from your desire for solitude, deep thought, and meaning, and let yourself blossom. Introversion isn’t a weakness — it’s a quietly powerful strength.