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*Life of an Introvert*

Introvert (another term for “Introverted”): A shy, reticent person.”

They say “The quietest people have the loudest minds”; which can often be defined as the definition of an Introverted person. If this is true, it seems that this statement is hard to explain and prove to the people who don’t understand. But I understand this statement completely, since I know what it is like to have a busy mind, but a quiet tongue.

I want to take you into the life of an Introverted person by telling you a story about me. And just to clarify, I'm telling a story about who I USED TO be, not really who I am now. But the story matters just the same. And I think it paints a pretty good picture of how the Introverted Brain works. Of course, I am not a scientist, or psychologist, and I don’t claim to know everything. But I am hoping this will give people something to think about…

When I was growing up, I was different from other kids. I was what you could say “shy and timid” and I didn’t say much. If anything, I liked to be quiet’ I enjoyed being quiet. Many of my friends and family said I was “too quiet” or “too shy” all the time. Little did they know, my mind was running 100 miles and hour. So of course I was quiet and shy at times, I was always thinking. I mean, it was hard to find the right things to say and the right time because I had to think about every outcome and every scenario before I said it. I had to contemplate everything before making a move because I was afraid I would do or say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sounds crazy, I know. But it’s true. Until I got into my 20’s, It was very hard for me to express myself, and many people could tell by my actions that I was a “troubled child”.

Making friends and talking to people, especially strangers was hard for me. Yes my parents taught me how to speak to people and what to say to be polite and sweet. But I just couldn’t really get the hang of it. And to make things worse, my older sister had this talent of communication and charisma down packed. We were only 3 years apart, and people often thought we were twins by our similar looks. But we couldn’t be farther apart in personality. You see, I was the Quiet Dreamer, and she was the Loud Entertainer. So just think of how that made me feel...To see my sibling be more sociable and entertaining than me with family and friends, and I could barely say “Hello” and “How are you?” Starting conversations and finishing them was always hard for me, but for my older sister, whom I was with 24 7, this came easy. Sure me and my sister had our sisterly laughs and silly times. But around other people, I curled into a little ball of fear. I never trusted strangers; even just to talk to. I had these terrible mean looks when someone I didn’t know wanted to hold me or talk to me. I thought “Oh God no! I am not prepared to talk and entertain this person.”, and this happened to me day in and day out. It was very stressful and frustrating.

No matter what I did, I could not just get out of my own head and live in the moment of life. I knew I could never be the social butterfly that I envied in other people. I know I could never be the person who could stand in a room full of people and say Hi to everyone with a smile. That was difficult for me, and a hard habit to break. I did know one thing though; I was someone who valued silence and well thought out planning. Before I made a decision, I had to really think about what the outcome would be and if I could handle it or not. Now, sometimes this worked, and sometimes it didn’t. This was all a part of growing up. I am sure I made many of my bad decisions by thinking too hard about what to do, or by not seeking help to fix the problem. Which brings me to something I have seen a lot in my life...Introverted people don’t like to ask for help. We would often rather do everything ourselves, or take forever and a day to ask for help. Even during really really hard times. I have to admit, I am guilty of this crime.

I’ll tell you what, High School was really hard for me. Probably the worst time for me to be in my shell, was High School. I mean, people always say that High School is when you find out who your true friends are. But for me, that was when I found out how hard it was to be me, and how hard it was for people to accept me.

With the pressure of my mother's harsh discipline at home, and having to feel like an only child with my sister far away in another city, grown and matured, school was hard for me to get through on a daily basis. Making simple decisions was hard for me and I often felt like I had to rush myself to make a decision just to please other people or to not look stupid or slow. I always hated wasting people's time...

Now, in High School, for many teenagers, this is a weird time of growing up and finding out more about yourself. Your likes, dislikes, personality traits, your talents, goals, etc. This is when you feel like you are coming into adulthood, but you still want to have fun being a kid and you know you are not yet ready to be an adult at all. This is the time when many kids start to have their own minds and their own things to say to one another. This is also the time when many kids feel the need to be very opinionated and defiant of others. For me, high school was complete hell. Utter and complete HELL. I didn’t know how to dress, how to make friends, who was cool to hang out with or not, or even how to be “cool” period. I was in my own little word of being the “Outcast” or the “Wallflower”. Most of the time, I hated high school, and I couldn’t wait to get back home once I left for school in the morning. I was always struggling with my studies because It was so hard to focus. And this wasn’t because I had ADD or ADHD, which I did not have. My mind was just racing with so much decision making ideas and thoughts about yesterday, today, tomorrow, the future, last year, last week, Monday, Saturday, Mom, Dad, school, Christmas, etc. Not only that, but I would often try to join clubs and sports, but could not really find a good fit besides the Dance Team where I found other girls that accepted me for me. And many people think that because I was on the dance team that I was totally entertaining and social. Not true. I wasn’t a Cheerleader, I was a Dancer. I always loved to dance, It was something I was good at. It was also a small way to express myself without having to speak. Good Idea right? Other than that, Class President Elections; fail. Volleyball; fail. Honor Club; fail. Social Club; fail. Boyfriends; fail. Popularity; fail. Prom Queen; fail. Homecoming Queen; fail. And much much more. I was often bullied, talked about badly, and picked on daily. I couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t able to fight back with my hands or my words. I was lost. And I felt like a loser. Gullible and naive, and an easy target for the popular bullies. I felt like I was going to be forever misunderstood, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had low self-esteem and no self-respect for myself. I had terrible relationships with boys who treated me like dirt and thought nothing of it, and the girls at my school didn’t do any better.

I really don’t think my family and the few friends that I had could really tell what I was struggling with being introverted. It really seemed like no one cared. Many nights I spent crying myself to sleep because I had no idea what to do to fix my problem. And If I didn’t cry myself to sleep, I would stay up for days at a time from Insomnia. Struggling to calm my thoughts, but I failed to do so. I thought to myself “What’s wrong with me? Am I not normal? Am I not good enough like everyone else?” These questions ran through my mind all day and night. I was locked up in a jail of my own mind.

I often got scolded for not talking to my family more often and not being more outgoing and talkative. But how was I ever going to do that? My mouth would die for savvy words to come out, but my mind would stop me from saying anything. I was so afraid to say the wrong thing. And I can remember many times where I would speak on something that I thought I was ready to have a conversation with, but then I couldn’t finish, or I found myself slurring around with my words. I had so much to say from my overload of daily thoughts, but they just couldn’t come out in speech. I felt alone. At least until I graduated high school and moved onto college.

It was in college where my hard times hit and I got a huge slap of reality of what the REAL WORLD is like and how evil people can really be. Once I had my fill of being bullied, stepped on, looked over, ignored, and pushed aside, I knew I had to make a change. I guess you could call it growing up or growing into wisdom and maturity. One day I thought about my whole life and the unfortunate experiences I had. I decided that I really could only blame myself for the terrible things that happened because most of them happened because I was too quiet, too shy, too timid, too naive, and I just couldn’t see myself doing that anymore. I began to tell myself that being Introvert may not be such a bad thing. I began to tell myself positive things instead of constantly listening to the negative things people said to me about my personality. Telling me that I had a disorder and a serious mental issue and so on. No way, that’s not me. Instead, I told myself that I WAS important. That I was SPECIAL. I said to myself “You are not boring, you are CREATIVE. You are not a "scaredy cat", you are a FIGHTER. You are not shy, you are a DREAMER. You are not a bad person, you are WISE. You are not clingy, you just LOVE hard. You are not a loser, you have always been a WINNER. You are not too sensitive, you just have TRUE EMOTIONS. I continued to do this day after day until It stuck in my head that being an Introvert is not that bad and it can actually benefit me in many ways.

Instead of jumping to conclusions on making a rash decision, my busy mind would think about the outcome and consequences first before making that decision. In a room full of loud and obnoxious people, I will be the wise person who knows how to keep my voice low and calm. I mesh well with creative minds. I can relate to older people more because of what I have been through and what I stand for. I will never have a bunch of fake dishonest friends because I value QUALITY over QUANTITY. Unlike a lot of people, I am not afraid to be alone and be at peace with it. I have been alone most of my life, and I realize now that it’s okay to be alone and take care of yourself while enjoying yourself. I am not afraid to be Independent. I don’t have to ask for help for every little thing because I was taught to try and figure it out myself first. I will never be brainwashed because I know how to think for myself as a strong woman. It’s okay that I don’t like “small talk” because I would rather have a true connection with a person in a meaningful conversation. I will always be the one who thinks about what COULD or MAY happen instead of being wild and living in the moment with no regard to anyone or anything. I won’t be upset if I can not be a “Social Butterfly” in life because that is not me and it’s not my story. But most of all, I will not make myself feel lower than someone who is Extrovert. I know that I am who I am for a reason, and that I have special qualities that no one else has because I am different. And being different is a good thing.

I don’t have to be Ms. Giggly, in your face, Happy-go-Lucky, Ms. Charismatic to be great in life. I just have to be the best ME I can be. If someone wants someone more sociable for a friend, a job, or a lover, I guess I can’t be that person for them. I can only go as far as my mind will let me, and for good reason. It’s okay if I like to go to work and just WORK. It’s okay for me to be around other strangers in an elevator and not have to speak to them. I don’t know them anyway. This blog is a sign I have gotten a lot better at talking about me and talking to other people, but, it's like I always say, “I write better than I speak.”

If you think I have more negative thoughts because I am not bubbly 24 7, you are wrong. If you think an Extrovert is better at caring or loving someone, you are wrong. If you think that I am not fit to be a good leader because I don’t talk a lot or have a lot of friends and connections, you are DEAD WRONG. I don’t need to be an Extrovert to succeed in life or in relationships. And just for the record, I don’t really like that definition of Introvert from the Dictionary because the “shy” part is not really true. Introvert does not mean shy because we are not in people's face at all times and don’t constantly start conversations with strangers. There are many confident and outgoing Introverted people in this world, we just don’t shine our confidence in everyone's eyes. And we don’t have to follow the crowd and every single trend that emerges to be outgoing.

So take me or leave me. Love me or hate me. What you see is what you get. This is me, and this is my life. The Life of an Introvert.

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