“I am not my introversion”

From a young age, I was constantly bombarded with questions and comments. Are you okay? Why are you sad? You need to smile a little more. Speak up in class. Go hang out with your friends. What all of these well-intentioned people did not realize, is that there was not, and is not anything wrong with me. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out.

There are some who might be surprised if they knew that introversion is my biggest insecurity. Why? Because I am not one bit shy around these people, because they are my family and closest friends. Those who know of me would find this insecurity to be something different; they would find it to make perfect sense.

I constantly feel like I’m playing defense. I hear side comments and words through the grapevine from friends. Others think I’m mean, annoyed, stuck up, you name it. In our society, we are expected to collaborate, share, put on a happy face, and be outgoing and bubbly at all times. If you are a person that doesn’t fit this mold, there’s something wrong. Maybe some people are genuinely mean; however, there are some people just like me: introverted. Being an introvert is more that just being shy. It means that you crave alone time and actually enjoy it. It means that you are constantly interpreting things and analyzing inside your head. It means you are a thinker. It means that you probably have difficulty in group settings, and most likely feel highly uncomfortable. For me, my largest challenge area is talking to new people.

What many don’t know, is that if they were to approach me and start a discussion, I would gladly talk to them. For whatever reason, being the first person to make that move is something I am not typically capable of doing. Not because I’m rude or stuck up, but because I’m uncomfortable.

Throughout middle school and high school, I was constantly frustrated with myself. Why am I so shy? I would ask myself on a daily basis. It shouldn’t be this hard to talk to other people. I was so hard on myself, because I simply didn’t understand what was “wrong” with me. I was always the girl who had a book to bury in after completing work in class. At all costs, I would avoid being called on in class. I have come a long way since those times. Now, I am comfortable talking in class, and I don’t feel like I need a book to hide behind (although I still love to read!). What happened between those frustrating high school years and my college years that allowed me to stop interrogating myself? I accepted my nature and myself. I came to realize that it’s okay to enjoy your own company, and that it’s okay to not always speak up.

My biggest frustration now, is when people misunderstand me. I am not my introversion. I am a friend, a sister, a daughter, a student, an athlete, and a human being. I am caring, dedicated, investigative, loving, and gentle. These are traits that define me. To get to know these things, you must talk first. If you talk, I’ll talk.