The “quiet girl” is a label people would always attach to me when I was growing up. It used to make me feel bad about myself because I would realize people didn’t mean it in a good way. People would always question why I was the way I was, they would imply something was wrong with me while making an effort to “fix” me, and some people, unfortunately, even saw a quiet person as an easy target for bullying.
As someone who may already face the pressure to fit in, to be liked, and to be understood, standing out as an introvert can be overwhelming for a young person living in a society that seems to value the talkative and outgoing over the quiet and reserved. During a time where you’re figuring out who you are, if who you are is an introvert and its not well received, that can potentially be harmful to a young person’s self-perception, because it’s not something you can change.
Just like extroverts, introverts have their individual strengths (and weaknesses), and when it’s understood that introversion isn’t a defect (just a difference in temperament that falls on very long spectrum), knowing your strengths can be a pretty powerful thing, especially when it comes to confidently being your authentic self. Below are 5 perceptions/misconceptions usually attached to introverts; I will give you another way of looking at it so that you don’t fall into the trap of trying to be who someone else says you should be, and to view introversion, or being the quiet one, in a more positive and accepting way.
You need to socialize more
People often mistakenly consider introverts to be anti-social, when in fact, we are just more selectively social. Introverts burn out from too much social interactions, while extroverts thrive in them. It may take an introvert a bit longer to warm up and begin to open up to people, but that’s usually because we’re observing the people around us, feeling out who feels safe enough to open up to. Being a part of the popular crowd isn’t as appealing as finding a select few people that you genuinely connect with. Quality over quantity is a fitting mantra for an introvert.
2. You need to talk more
As an introvert, we tend to be very considerate of the things we say, usually thinking before we speak, and we may only decide to speak when we’ve decided that what we have to say will add value to the conversation, and not just fill the space with meaningless noise.
3. You wouldn’t be a good leader
Contrary to what many people believe, being outspoken doesn’t qualify a person to be a good leader. Sure, it’s a nice quality to have as a leader, but when you realize an effective leader requires more than having an outgoing personality, and that it requires having patience, being able to listen effectively, and to implement ideas that are carefully and thoughtfully planned out, considering a thoughtful and observant introvert to lead the team may not be such a bad idea.
4. You’re just shy and need to come out of your shell more
Fact: Being shy doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with having a reserved temperament. A very talkative and social person can experience feeling shy.
A common misconception people have about being quiet is that quiet people are just shy and may need a little help coming out of their shells, and unfortunately some people try to force a person out of their shell, when you really shouldn’t try to force someone to be something they’re not. Introverts come out of the shell when comfortable, not forced. It will happen, and when it does, it’s important not to expect an introvert to become an extrovert over time. It won’t happen, and that’s ok.
5. You need to loosen up and have fun
This is where it’s important to keep in mind that people are individuals and experience things differently. What you consider fun, may not be to the next person, and that’s ok. As an introvert, you may enjoy a quiet hike, or relax at home with a book, while one of your more extroverted counterparts may find more enjoyment in going to the club and socializing, or going to a huge networking event. There’s nothing wrong with either, just a difference in preference, and you should continue to find all the little preferences in life that bring you joy and a sense of peace and indulge more in those things that make you, YOU.