THEORY: Struggles of an Introvert in an Extrovert-friendly World

I'm the type who reads comments on posts and clicks links when there are links to be clicked. Yesterday, I saw a post on FB that led me to 9gag that led me to And now I'm here on my blog talking about what those clicking has done to me. Here we go... 

As a child I always knew who I was, well what kind of person I was (I'm still figuring out who I am actually, so I'll blog about that once I'm done with that journey, okay?). I didn't know back then that there was a name for people like me but I already sensed that I was a certain "type" of person. Come college and a bunch of psychological tests later, I finally knew what to call myself. I am an introvert

Learning about introversion and how there are so many others like me made me see things so differently. All my life I thought there was something wrong with me. That I was crazy for not wanting crowds and going out and talking and socializing. All my life I thought I had to change this innate feelings of wanting to be alone and be quiet and not be with others. I had to want to party. I had to want to have friends. I had to want to dance and sing and be on the spotlight. I had to want all these things I really hated. You can only imagine how miserable a feeling that was... and I was a 13 year old girl going through puberty and just realizing that boys and girls were two very different creatures. I was still figuring out the "physical" part of life, I couldn't handle the "psychological" part of it, too! I was busy with school and Lizzie McGuire. There is only so much a 13 year old could handle.

Anyway, looking back I feel really sorry and proud of myself at the same time. Sorry that I wasn't able to be the person I wanted to be early on and proud that I had enough sense not to completely ignore who I am. It was a struggle for me back then and it still is right now. Of course the difference is that now I know where I stand. I know that there is nothing wrong with wanting to watch my TV shows alone on Saturday than going to some talked about event. But not everyone knows that and not everyone that knows, understands. 

I watched this video from (above) and if I could clap at every word Susan Cain said, I would (but I'm watching it during lunch break at the office so I clapped in my mind). She put into words the feelings I have been living with for the past years. I grew up with people always calling me shy, quiet or some other unintentionally hurtful thing. I believed them, you know, all those years. I ended up identifying myself as shy and a kill joy and believing that I can never be as talented as those who would sing and dance and act on stage. But being the determined girl that I am, I tried to fight those comments and prove them wrong. I forced myself to attend events, to join extra curricular activities, to run for leadership roles, to speak in front of crowds, to be in the spotlight. It was a very painful internal tug of war. In my head, I would condition myself to want to be on that stage but right before I step foot into the spotlight, my natural self would tell me to run away and hide in my sheets with my pen and paper. I also condition myself to want to attend social gatherings - be it school, family or personal invitations. But I find myself panicking every time. I always don't know how I would fit in since I never attend events... but I had to attend them because this is what fun people do! I would be a kill joy and a snob if I didn't go. So I would go but I would over think every detail - how I would stand, eat, talk and carry myself just to prove that I belong. Of course, I would always end up feeling bad that I wasn't able to carry a conversation or I wasn't able to move around as effortlessly as that other girl. I always end up feeling more like I didn't belong... and it sucked.

There are so many nights I cried about the things I failed to do - speak in public, dance at parties, say hi to my relative. And each time I failed, I pinned the blame on myself. It sounds bad (and it felt that way, believe me) but this just made me even more determined to be the outgoing, aggressive and loud person the world expects me to be. 

I guess I was a strong girl growing up. It's one thing to fight bullies and another to fight your own self. I'm with myself 24/7 since the beginning of time. I can't hide from myself, I can't transfer schools, I can't tell other people to protect me from myself. I had to deal with myself on my own... and I survived. For years I had to rationalize why wanting to write wasn't as good as wanting to speak, why wanting to draw wasn't as good as wanting to perform. I always thought there was something wrong with wanting the things that I did. But I guess this is what therapies are for. We have lots of questions without answers and we are left in the dark struggling for light. But I managed without a shrink... barely. Well, I'm here right now, right? So that's good enough. I'm alive to tell the story and hopefully this will help some other girl out there who's wondering why she has to be someone she's not. No, honey, there is nothing wrong with your obsession over getting that sketch just right while your friends are out on their first dates. You will have your first date, too and it will be just as awesome if not better. Just make sure the left eye matches the right one, okay? Good.

It's a really hard world for people like me, you know, introverts. We are always told to work in teams and find joy in the company of friends. I understand that there is nothing wrong with that because there really is no problem with it. I just hope that people understand just the same that there is nothing wrong with wanting to work alone (and not coming off as a snob or arrogant) and finding joy in solitude (or with one special person). Not one of the two ways is right or wrong. They're just different. You're different. I'm different. Why make me feel bad about it, right?

These days, people wouldn't catch how much of an introvert I am... at first (it will eventually show, I tell you). I have managed to knock a few walls down and let some extroversion in (well, no one is completely introverted so maybe I just let what extroversion in me grow) or maybe all the things I forced upon myself have changed me irreversibly. I don't know. But I don't see this change in me as a bad thing. I hope I'm not confusing you. None of the things I forced myself to do the past years were wrong. The thing I am complaining to the world about is the feeling that I had to go through while doing those things. It is OKAY to ask me to try things out of my comfort zone, how else can we grow? What is wrong is making me feel like there is something wrong with me if I end up not liking the experience.

I grew a lot from those tug-of-war years, you know. Something good came out from all that mental torment I went through (OH MY GOD, DON'T PITY ME) From all the things I forced upon myself, I ended up liking public speaking. It was a very scary experience at first, but I eventually realized it's just a bigger way of expressing the thoughts I write. I love it now. But of course, there are things that I can't really change... and I am fine with it (most days! There are still attacks of "What is wrong with me?!!" but it happens rarely) I realized I REALLY do not like crowds and parties. I try to fake it sometimes, though! HAHA. But of course, deep inside, I know that I am not less of fun person because of that choice. I am a fun person to dine with, not drink with, that's all. I'm comfortable with that. I hope you see the difference... because it is that difference that has made this world a much easier place to exist in, for me, at least. I know there are things I like and don't like and there is nothing wrong with that... at all.

Oh, the struggles of an introvert. I can just go on and on but then I'd bore you... or not (Hello fellow introvert!) 

No comments: