All throughout my childhood I was guided in a direction that went against my true nature. This led to many years of my early adulthood trying to deny my essential nature, that of introversion, to fit in with other peoples needs and so called social norms.
I have a few memory’s of early childhood, I must have been around three years old maybe. Although I wasn’t shy, I wasn’t drawn to playing with the other children constantly throughout the day but whenever I would feel the natural urge to go into a separate room and play by myself away from the other children I would be quickly brought back into a room of noise and chaos.
“Come on Lee, you can’t be by yourself”, I remember the nursery assistant saying something along those lines and this is the repeated mantra amongst many others that would be repeated throughout my early life.
When I was a young child around the age of four or five I didn’t speak much and I only had one friend. I mainly liked to just watch things and people and of course be by myself and be silent but this behaviour worried the school so much that my parents were called in and I also had to see a speech therapist. They lacked the understanding and knowledge of an introvert child. If you weren’t loud and joining in with groups then I guess that was deemed as a problem. Yet half an hour with a speech therapist and the verdict was in, “He’s normal, just shy, that’s all. His speech is fine, in fact he was quite talkative with me. When he’s ready he’ll come out of his shell more”, the therapist said to my mum.
But those words, ‘he’s just shy, he’ll come out of his shell more’, would be the very mantra that would be repeated over and over for the next twenty years of my life. From that moment on, my parents and teachers were on a quest to break that shell open not realising that they were affirming that to be quiet, to enjoy solitude, to not a have a large social circle to name a few things was not normal.
Well I’m here to tell you that it is totally normal to be introverted in nature. Amidst the years of being dragged to social gatherings by my parents and being told, “you need more friends”, to teachers forcing me to speak out and be loud in classes I’m here to show you that you can embrace your quiet nature and also how you can live and thrive and be successful in life as an introvert and be totally comfortable with a way of being that may be different to some, even seen as not normal, but in a matter of fact is completely an okay way to be in your life. And do you know why it’s okay? Because that’s who you are and who you are is a beautiful unique individual and it’s time to embrace your introversion and no longer feel like you have to make excuses to others just because you may want to have a little alone time or not want to go to that work party.
I recently took an online personality test and the results came back that I am an INFJ. This stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. This personality type represents only around 1-2% of the overall population and on another test I did I was shown to be 80% introvert, 20% ambivert. So there is literally no extrovert really in me and I truly feel that. It’s something over the past 11 years that I’ve matured into and learnt to not accept but actually embrace. You don’t need to accept introversion likes it’s something you have to put up with, it’s what you are. It’s in your makeup, embrace your quiet side, love yourself wholly and don’t let anyone let you think that you are anything other than normal.
I’m 37 years old now. I’m married, I have a good job and my only friends are literally counted on one hand and that includes my wife. I no longer feel the need to say yes to social events. I no longer feel the need to be active making friends at work or feel like I should be “making something of myself”. I basically have a dome and I love it. I’ve never been happier. I love quiet walks and sitting by myself for long periods in nature or even at home. I get energised and feel alive with having lot’s of space in my life so then when I meet up with the 2-3 friends that I have I feel energised and full of life but if you were to ask me to go to a works party for instance I’d either be the guy standing or sitting in a corner somewhere wishing I was at home writing, reading, spending quality time with my wife or watching Netflix for example. Or I’d sneak out when no one was watching as people are usually too drunk to remember the quiet guy there anyway. Thank god!
This does not mean that when I’m on my own that I’m lonely, it’s the air that I breathe. I love being alone. I love quiet. I love only having 2-3 friends and I now, where I stand in life I only do that which I want to.
Now many people will read this and possible say that I’m shy, I’m a loner, I’m socially inadequate. But that just isn’t true. Even though it goes against the very grain of my being I’ve given public talks in the past, not at all shy, speaking on subjects such as mindfulness and being comfortable alone because these events have the potential to help others so I’m motivated to the service of others. I also work in a difficult environment working with prisoners but it is my quiet nature, my ability to step back and listen that almost gives me an edge over others when it’s comes to working with people of this nature. So even though I am what you could call an extreme introvert, that does not stand for push over. When I need to be assertive I am fully confident and a strong individual and I can certainly hold my own in a debate. Yes, it’s no surprise that I hate small talk. Deep and meaningful all the way, I can see the weather quite clearly from the window I’m sat next to thank you.
So, if your an introvert who still doesn’t have the courage to say no to social events that you don’t really want to go to, or you feel a need to have lots of friends and a full diary when really you couldn’t care less and you would rather be at home or walking in a park by yourself or even enjoying lunch in a café on your own just remember this, you can embrace your quiet nature. But that doesn’t mean you’re weak or weird or any other name people might try to label you with. You can embrace your aloneness, but that doesn’t mean your a loner. As an introvert you’ll find that you are probably more emotional and compassionate towards others, you may feel strong emotions and especially if your a man that’s okay too. Embrace what arises within you and express your uniqueness for the beautiful soul that you are.
I guarantee it won’t take you long to get into the swing of things either by enjoying and embracing your introvert nature. You’ll start to notice how much you breathe a sigh of relief that you didn’t end up going to some social gathering or event and just enjoy that new book you’ve been wanting to read, or spending time with your best friend, just the two of you, or enjoying a walk in nature being mindful or pondering the meaning of life. Enjoy the quietude my friend, you deserve it and most importantly don’t let anyone ever try to make you feel guilty for it. Learn to love and embrace your introvert nature.