a rambling on being an introvert in an extrovert world & acceptance of self
I have always struggled with the concept of “me”
it use to be insecurity held me back, I wanted to be accepted, loved, liked, admired, sought out, desired, wanted, enjoyable, funny, popular, included…many words filled that place, I want to be ___(fill in the blank)___, anything other than me. Because “me” wasn’t good enough, “me” didn’t include the qualities it took to be liked, “me” wasn’t like what other people were, and “me” was not what I wanted to be..or worse what others wanted me to be.
Above all I wanted confidence. But I always thought in order to have the confidence I had to be something/someone else. something, anything other then who I was. Maybe bits and pieces of me could stay, but for the most part I needed to re-create myself and be what fit the “mold”. These weren’t the exact thoughts that ran through my mind, but it was how I lived. Always trying to attain a version of myself I thought was the right version, the version I could be confident in. a version I thought I would just eventually become, grow into and then everything would be perfect. Id feel confident, happy, liked, and accepted. Im sure I am not alone in this.
Then I moved out of those insecure, “must fit in with the right crowd”, high school days and into college days that is all about figuring out just who you are, being able to decipher and discover yourself and truly be whoever/whatever you want. but this wasn’t any better. Suddenly I didn’t have this ideal mold I needed to fit, but endless possibilities. But I still was left with no where to fit in, because if you don’t know who it is that you are or want to be how can you expect to find where it is you fit in. And in a world where confidence is everything, how can I be confident when I don’t even know who I am?
I blamed my lack of confidence on this, that I didn’t know who I was. And I blamed not knowing who I was on not being able to find myself in high school, because I was always just trying to be that person who fit in, was well liked and accepted by not only my peers but even my friends. so then came the vicious cycle of trying to figure out just who Taylor was. And I still couldn’t break the mindset that the “me” that I was wasn’t anything to settle into or be confident in. but if only I could find the ability to be confident then I would finally feel like I fit in.
This has been a constant struggle.
Recently I stumbled across a random article “23 signs you’re secretly an introvert”. and it all kind of clicked.
Recently I have been “coming into my own” as people call it. Realizing ‘hey this is who I am, and its about damn time I accept it. embrace it, and live life to the fullest as that person. quit striving to be something else and live life as the person I am.’ I realized I needed to stop letting others define for me what I should look like, who I should be, and what I needed to work on to change me and rather just embrace who I am and build off of that. I have always been more quite, less outgoing, slow to open up. I have always had a smaller group of very close friends, and I stick to those people. I always saw these as faults. I needed to be more outgoing, more social, more energetic in meeting new people…I needed to be a typical girl that just talked and talked and talked.
However, once I was able to embrace who I am and learn how to navigate through life as that person I was able to live so much more fully. I was able to embrace that yes I am awkward in meeting new people, I get anxious when in situations a bit out of my comfort zone.. and by knowing this I could prepare myself and enter into the situation knowing this is what it will look like, this is how I will feel, this is how I can best handle it to make others feel more comfortable as well as myself…and thats ok.
I have been learning all of this over the past few years. But reading this article kind of set things off within me. All us introvert are kind of screwed over. We live within an extrovert glorifying world. We are told we must be outgoing social butterflies that are confident and exuberant. If we are not then we are seen as cold, unwelcoming, unfriendly, unsocial, boring and dull, and almost lifeless. I don’t want to be seen as these things! I want to be warm, inviting, friendly, genuine…But as an introvert in a world that really caters towards being an extrovert, this is what we are seen as, and what we are is almost labeled as wrong and in need of being fixed. Introverted-ness is seen as a negative thing. People almost don’t even know how to embrace those who are introverted.
Extroverted qualities are promoted everywhere…in our classes, our churches, our jobs…everywhere. These qualities are catered to, and us introverts are left to either conform or get left behind. It’s as though the qualities of an introvert are frowned upon and not the norm, like there is something off about us. No wonder all my life I have felt uncomfortable within my own skin. Even those closest me have had a hard time embracing my introverted qualities. And not to say us as introverts don’t need to put effort in to be better in social situations or cater towards the extroverts in our lives to meet them half way, but we need to be met half way as well. we should not always be striving to be something we are not. We are simply introverts living in an extrovert world that don’t feel capable of even embracing who we are because it is seen as though being this way is the “wrong” way. And extroverts don’t even understand us, while we are continuously striving to understand them in hopes we can become them.
But we can’t. our make-up is different. the way we function is different. and that is OK! the more I realize this, the more I embrace who I am, the more I, and those around me are able to enjoy life. I am able to see my strengths/weaknesses, my needs and how I can fulfill them, how I interact with others and can love best…
I am coming into my own by embracing myself as an introvert. and seeing it as not only ok, but totally normal and down right wonderful. There are some pretty awesome qualities of introverts, things to be proud of, celebrated…nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed to be labeled as. I use to hate being labeled as such, or allowing others to see me in that way. I didn’t want anyone to see me as an introvert, or get that impression from me. All my life I was told confidence was beauty, but to me confidence and being an extrovert were the same thing. and since I was not an extrovert, I needed to become one in order to be confident…and therefore something “beautiful”. I always admired anyone who was an extrovert and strived to mimic them in hopes one day I would naturally just be that way. In order to be comfortable in my own skin, I needed to become an extrovert. then I would finally be content, confident, and comfortable in who I was. But heck if that ever worked…
There was more to it though. I also felt ill equipped to even be a follower of Christ because if I was not an extrovert how could I love and love well when to me loving looked like being outgoing. I was letting Christ down. I was not being a good “Christian”. When really all Christ wanted me to do was see the beauty he placed within me and be that person. embrace that person and see that he created me the way I was, and love people in the way he designed me to do so. The whole time I thought I had let him down by not being what I thought I was suppose to be. I was truly hurting him by not embracing who he knit me together in my mother’s womb to be. And hurting him by not allowing his acceptance of me and love for me to fill me, so I could then in turn pour that out unto others whether I was an extrovert or an introvert.
I will never be the outgoing one, the conversationalist, the life of the party, the one with tons and tons of friends, the one who loves to meet new people, the people person, the social butterfly…and that is a-ok. And allowing myself to live within this, and be ok with this is making life so much lighter. Allowing myself to come into my own and embracing my introvertedness is allowing me to enjoy life so much more fully. Without the pressure to be something I am not, without the pressure to fit into the mold this world tells me I need to be, and with the knowledge that it is God’s love I need. not the title of the outgoing one, the popular one, the well-known girl. It is not these “qualities” that will make me confident, or beautiful, or better at loving people. It is embracing who I am and inviting Jesus into that.