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Looking back, I only remember admitting introversion to defend myself. “Oh, why didn’t I talk much at the party? Well, I’m kind of an introvert.”
I even started to say “homebody” instead of “introvert” because it sounded more like a quirk and less like a character flaw.
You’ll never see an extrovert defend their love for grand speeches or parties. So why did I feel the need to defend my introverted tendencies?
It’s difficult to embrace introversion when it’s seen as a disadvantage in your social life and career–two aspects of life that deeply contribute to your feelings of self-worth and fulfillment. So it’s easy to see why I was an introvert in denial for so long.
“We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.” – Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
The key word is ideal–a self-righteous opinion. And an opinion is never the only way to live.
Once I saw introversion for what it is, the tendency to look inward and the low tolerance to outside stimulation, it hardly felt like the curse it’s made out to be.
Introverts have a purpose in the world just as extroverts do. I mean think about it–how can we have conversations if everyone is talking?! There would be no one listening!
Every team needs members who enjoy working behind the scenes, think before they speak, and listen carefully.
Although I can finally say I’m an introvert with confidence, some days I feel guilty for staying home when I see my friends hanging out on social media. I still struggle with separating my definition of exclusion and failure from my introverted tendencies.
Recognizing my denial has allowed me to focus on my strengths as an introvert instead of chasing the Extrovert Ideal. Here are my 6 confessions as an introvert in denial, breaking down why it’s hard to embrace introversion.
1. I hate when people say I’m quiet
Introverts are often asked, “Why are you so quiet?” or told, “Don’t be shy,” and “You should speak up more!” As if calling attention to our quietness will suddenly make us the loudest of the group. Instead, it makes introverts uncomfortable and less likely to open up.
Introverts are quiet because we carefully analyze each situation. We do everything slowly and with intention. Even a simple conversation at a party will get our brains working.
Introverts are less likely to take risks. It may sound silly to extroverts, but speaking up during group conversations is a huge risk for introverts. It may lead to heated arguments or drawn-out conversations. There’s also the high chance someone might jump in and talk over them. Most of the time it just isn’t worth the effort.
2. I don’t want to look weak
Growing up as an introvert is hard. Often the quietest ones make the best targets for bullies. Unfortunately, quiet is seen as weak and submissive.
As an adult, it’s no different. Bullies are now disguised as colleagues and peers that can’t stop gossiping. ‘Till this day, I get upset when I don’t speak up for myself. I’m already an Asian woman, so looking weak is the last thing on my list!
Whenever I start to feel weak, I remind myself of my unique strengths. Introverts have strengths many extroverts lack in, such as writing, attention to detail, and calmness in hectic situations.
Before the internet, most people associated introverts with only artists & writers. Now, introverts are all over the internet dominating the entrepreneur, blogger, & influencer spaces. There are even Instagram accounts focused solely on pictures of books & book reviews!
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3. I speak up when I’m passionate about the subject
So why do I need to talk about everything that’s going on in my mind?
Sometimes I feel like people think I’m sneaky. Like I’m a mysterious mastermind out to get them. Or they label me as “timid” or “shy” because they just can’t figure me out.
I like to have all my facts straight before I dive into a conversation. You won’t see me ranting about football or politics because I just don’t feel well-versed in those subjects. But once you talk about planners, yoga, or womxn empowerment, I can talk for days.
Unfortunately, the subjects I’m passionate about rarely come up in everyday conversation. But when they do, I tend to shock people when I speak up. Don’t they know introverts have passions, too?
4. I love performing
I’m not the most amazing singer or dancer, but I love performing. With singing, I have a voice in this world. And with dancing, I can express my creativity. But don’t introverts hate the spotlight?
Performing is one of the best ways introverts can open up. Through acting, singing, and dancing, we can be ourselves without saying exactly what’s on our minds.
5. I love parties…
At least that’s what I told myself as a college freshman. Annnnd to be quite frank, I was almost always wasted at those parties. Not so hard to be the life of the party when you’re inebriated…
Now that I’m older and pretty much a grandma at 25, I can’t keep up with the party persona. Honestly, I don’t want to try anymore. Most of my social energy is drained by the time I come home from work or classes. Cozying up in bed & scrolling through Etsy shops is my kind of Friday night.
6. I’m not a complete hermit
I like to go out, I promise!!! I just don’t understand why I need to go out every. single. day. Let alone party every weekend. I need lower stimulation in order to thrive. If I keep pushing myself to go out, exhaustion will inevitably catch up to me.
Of course, I learned this the hard way.
During all of high school (yes, I wasn’t your average teenager) and half of college, I studied in large groups, stayed out all night, and partied every weekend. Caffeine & alcohol fueled me. I kept it up for so long, and eventually, I just couldn’t do it anymore.
When I reached my limit, I felt lost. I pushed myself to socialize and go out for so long. I felt like I didn’t know myself anymore once I started leaving parties early and staying home on weekends.
Now I know to pay attention to what my mind and body really need. If I’ve been living like a hermit for a few days, then I’ll plan a lunch date with a close friend. If I’ve been attending parties and special events back-to-back, then I’ll recharge at home with a nice, loooong Netflix binge.
Embracing introversion takes courage in a world that idealizes extroversion. Listening to what you need is important for your well-being. Don’t change yourself to meet unrealistic expectations. Just be you. You’ll be happy you gave yourself the chance!
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