You wanna fly you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.
– Toni Morrison
I LOVE being an introvert.
No I’m not crazy.
Seriously, I’m not!
It took me a while to get here, but I can say in complete honesty that I am content with my nature and embrace it completely. I’ve learned how to thrive as an introvert and find new ways to grow every day. It’s an ongoing journey, but it’s worth it to get to a place where I feel right, myself, good, amazing! I honour myself, push my boundaries, test new waters, GROW.
Imma gonna rock this introvert shit!
Some admirable qualities of introverts are:
// We draw people to us with our gentle empathetic nature.
// We are great listeners.
// We are perceived to have an air of mystery. And mystery is sexy!
// We are quiet observers, which gives us a unique and thoughtful view of the world and other people.
// We rarely feel lonely, which makes for a strong independent character.
So how do you want to feel? Awkward, not confident, weak… or strong, confident, capable, powerful?
But first- what makes us introverted? How do we become who we are?
// Is it inherited in our DNA?
// Do we pick up our parents behaviours?
// Is it a lack of a certain thing – discipline, affection, encouragement, means, opportunities?
// Is it external events that happen at pivotal moments in our lives?
For myself, it’s in my DNA. My family hails from Sweden, a notoriously introverted country (that is not to say every Swede is an introvert!), and I come from a large extended family of strong introverts. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my parents and my siblings – all introverted in nature. It’s in my blood and it was how I was raised.
But I do think that society, social hierarchy and parents / teachers / coaches lack of knowledge on introversion did have a huge impact on me as well. My parents are both strong confident introverts, but both of my brothers and I grew up shy and insecure. It was during the time of the rising trend of the extrovert ideal; being told to come out of our shells, speak up in class, put ourselves “out there”.
It stole our childhood innocence, making us realize we were imperfect creatures and our imperfections were to be scrutinized. I carried these feelings with me well into my 20’s and it affected my relationships, education and career choices and my health.
And then I got an anxiety disorder. And then I conquered it.
And with that journey into health and wellness organically came the beautiful new world of the INTROVERT IDEAL. I was hooked. My eyes were wide. I was hungry for knowledge and understanding. Thirsty for change. Insatiable with the desire to THRIVE.
“A young woman who in the past would chase down her joy in the outside world rather than cultivate it within.”
– Tara Bliss, Such Different Skies
I loooove this quote because it feels like a perfect description of myself. I used to seek approval and fulfilment from other people. Now, my love vibrates from within. I love myself, my quirks and faults and strengths, the essence of my soul. Happiness lies within and it stems from self-love.
I want you to love yourself as you are! I want you to be proud to be an introvert, and I want you to know how to be the best version of your introverted self, sans any phrases like “you should come out of your shell” !!
I promise it’s possible. Here’s how:
Change Your Attitude
Stop looking at your introverted traits as weakness. They make you a strong, soulful, thoughtful and desirable individual. There is nothing weak about being introverted, and as soon as you adopt a confident attitude toward your nature a weight will lift and you will feel an ease encompass you.
Get to Know Yourself. Get to LOVE Yourself
Get educated on what being introverted is all about. Google it, read blogs, gain some knowledge! Now is the perfect time because the idea of being introverted is becoming more mainstream and better understood. It’s an exciting time to be an introvert.
I also recommend reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It is the foundation for the rise of introverts and full of info and ‘aha’ moments that will make you say “omg that is so me!”. Once you understand the essence of who you are it is so much easier to love and appreciate yourself. You are amazing. You are powerful. You are L O V E.
Let Your Body Talk
Body language is everything for introverts! For many years I was mistaken for being standoffish, stuck up, bitchy or unfriendly. Ouch! It hurt me so much to hear that because I knew I was a kind gentle person and I didn’t know how I could make people understand that without having to attempt to be extroverted, which felt all sorts of wrong and uncomfortable to me.
But a few simple changes in body language make a HUGE difference. This is tried, tested and true! I used to hover near a wall, exit or corner (wallflower anyone?) with shoulders slumped, arms crossed and eyes lowered. I would shuffle along the perimeter and cling to a friend or boyfriend. Doesn’t sound like a very interesting person to talk to does it?
Here’s what I do now, and it’s what makes people approach ME to start a conversation. When I walk in the room I s t r i d e in with my shoulders back, head up, making eye contact and smiling at people. When I am standing I keep my body relaxed and open, facing the person or people I am talking to. I broke my habits of fidgeting, crossing my arms or ankles, and shifting my eyes away from the people I was supposed to be interacting with. This is potent! Be open, be interested, and they will flock to you honey!
This is a big one lovelies. For a long time I tried to act the way I thought people wanted me to be. Which means I tried to be extroverted, which goes entirely against my nature. It was awkward, uncomfortable and took me to a whole other level of self-loathing. I was brought to tears when my now ex-boyfriends mother said “you need to get over this shyness if you want things to work out.” Ominous right?
I had this idea that it was WRONG to be me and I tried so hard to be someone I wasn’t to please the people around me. But the thing is, you are only hurting yourself being this way, and people usually can see through the facade. They know you aren’t being real and it turns them right off.
So my advice – be yourself!!
So simple but so true. Those who don’t accept you aren’t the people who are meant to be in your life. And my ex-boyfriends mother – well she was right. It wasn’t going to work out. But what she didn’t know was that when I finally started being nothing but myself I attracted the man of my dreams, who loves me as me, introverted nature and all.
This is one I am still working on, it’s a toughie. I am constantly apologizing when I feel pulled to honour my desires instead of pleasing others. I am a chronic people-pleaser (that doesn’t mean this is solely an introverted trait) and it is exhausting!
Being an introvert means I enjoy my alone time, I reenergize by resting, and I am not a big party girl. But for the longest time, thinking it was bad to be that way, I pushed myself to go out with people I didn’t enjoy, do activities I didn’t want to, and push myself when I was exhausted or not feeling well. This all left me feeling crappy, and the result was that I withdrew to a point of being a hermit (which is NOT cool!) Introverts need interaction and connection too, just in the right way.
So how do I be unapologetic in my life? I let go of friends that were not accepting of my nature and who I didn’t feel good spending time with. I tell the truth – I explained what me being an introvert is all about and if I have made plans and need to cancel I am honest about it. I say I’m tired or not feeling up to it and need to have some “introvert time”.
The friends I have now totally get it and never hold it against me. That being said, I am very diligent about rescheduling and making time to see people shortly after I have cancelled. In the past I have lost friendships because I became flaky and unreliable, and that isn’t a desirable friend trait for introverts OR extroverts.
So – NEVER apologize for who you are, your nature, your desires or needs. Follow your heart and be true to yourself.
Harness Your Power
This is something that the lovely Fel Spahr taught me recently. She said that no one can make me feel less than, unless I let them. Oohhhh that one hit home! I was giving my power away by letting people make me feel insecure, not good enough, u n w o r t h y. I thought about the people who intimidate me, and they all had one common trait – they were CONFIDENT.
They weren’t demeaning or obnoxious, they just had a genuine kind confidence to them and it was so desirable, but I was so aware that I didn’t have THAT. And in that one thought I gave away all my power, and I let myself become less-than. This is so important! It has been transformational for me since Fel shared this simple statement. NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL LESS-THAN, UNLESS YOU LET THEM. So next time you start to feel self-conscious remember this, please!
Manage Your Time and Energy
So one of the most common traits of being an introvert is that being “on” in social situations drains us, and we need alone time to recharge. It’s certainly true for me. I just went to two parties two days in a row, and I was B U R N T O U T after, and needed about 3 days of doing my own thing to get back to feeling balanced. This may be the #1 tip I can share with you about thriving as an introvert.
We need to manage our time and energy. We need to protect it, honour our boundaries and listen to our bodies when they ask for rest. Do this and you will never feel bad, drained or uncomfortable in your own skin. I am very protective of where I spend my energy, and I make sure that I don’t pack too many plans into one week, and I spend my time with friends who I always have a great time with and are easy to talk to.
In my relationship I also had to learn to release the fear of missing out when my husband wants to go out with friends or to a party and I am not feeling up to it. I have a solid foundation of trust in my relationship which makes this a lot easier, and I make sure to compromise on us going out together, us staying home together, and Ryan going out while I stay home. This way I am sure to thrive while I am out with friends and get the proper time to recharge afterwards, and Ryan doesn’t have to change his nature to suit mine. It’s a beautiful balance.
Extroverts are Friends
We don’t live in a world of introverts against extroverts. It’s not US against THEM. We need each other! Don’t turn a cold shoulder to extroverts in your life; form strong bonds with them!
The right kind of extrovert will respect your nature and give you your space, but they will also help you naturally push your boundaries and experience new things. My husband is definitely an extrovert – he loves parties and getting together with friends and going on adventures. Before I met Ryan I was in my little introvert bubble, sticking to the same-old same-old. He accepted my introversion and honoured my space and need for alone time, but he also introduced me to a world of excitement, exploration and new perspectives. He knows when to push me out of my comfort zone, when to stand by me and when to let me fly on my own.
Some of my closest friends are also extroverts and they enrich my life in so many ways. I truly believe opposites do attract, and introverts and extroverts balance each other. The introvert helps to ground the extrovert, the extrovert helps the introvert to fly. So don’t push away extroverts, instead nurture your relationships with them and you will become the best version of yourself.
And there you have it! Remember, as in all kinds of growth, this isn’t going to be an overnight change, and reading these words won’t magically transform you into a thriving introvert. It takes effort and commitment. It takes a strong mind to keep focused and not let you revert back to your old habits and thought patterns. But if I can do it so can you!
Just focus on how you want to feel in your own skin and keep that desire centre-stage in your mind. You’ve got this!
Please share below! I’d love to hear whats going on in your introvert world. What have you been doing to thrive as an introvert? Have you tried any of the methods above? What has the outcome been?
PS – Did you catch the first post in the series? If not, you’ll find it here!