I’ve recently added a question to the sign-up process for the Wise Introvert newsletter. Upon confirmation I ask, “What are you struggling with the most right now? Has this been an ongoing challenge that you just can’t seem to figure out?”
I really want to know, because it helps me to provide content that offers value.
It’s not unusual to hear crickets. But yesterday, a courageous introvert replied (in part):
For my whole life I have struggled to find my own voice, to have the confidence to express myself…Maybe I should accept myself as is, but being an introvert sometimes feels like a burden.
Sound familiar? I know that this reader is absolutely not alone in feeling this way, so I’m grateful to her for speaking up. Little did she know when she wrote to me that she would be helping many others too. So to extend the power of her voice, I’m sharing some of my response to her with you (and hope that you pass it along):
I understand your frustration and what you mean by the burden of introversion. You’re not alone in feeling that way – for so many of us it’s felt like a long and difficult road.
I’m not sure how long you’ve known you are an introvert and how much reading you’ve done on the topic (there are a lot of misconceptions and negative stereotypes) – Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, is a must read (among others) because it helps us to see that there’s nothing wrong with us or the way we tend to interact in the world.
I think what you’re expressing is the attempt to try to find balance in being yourself and also being able to fit in to “the real world” (and therefore feel happy and successful). In my experience, this requires self-love and acceptance, as well as learning how far we can nudge ourselves beyond the comfort zone.
But it’s not about conforming so much that you disappear. In other words, it’s not about changing yourself to fit in. It’s about knowing yourself enough to figure out where it is that you naturally fit.
Bit by bit and over time, you find where you belong. That’s where you can settle into yourself, your confidence is nurtured, and success comes more naturally.
It’s a never ending process really. For this reason, I think it’s easy to look at extroverts and believe that their path is easier than ours. I’ve been there (in fact my husband is an extrovert who, from my perspective, has had a clear and easy path with opportunities that came, in part, because he is such a sociable and easy going guy who is energized by being around people – aka not like me – easy to go into victim mode).
And then I have to bring myself back into a place of peacefulness. It’s not in our best interest to compare. We need to find our own way…which is good because what I realized along the way is that I don’t want the life of an extrovert anyways.
That’s not what success looks like to me. And trying to “play the game” and be something that I’m not ended up draining my energy until I became a shell of myself and really of little value to anyone. Just going through the motions.
So yes, part of the path of finding your voice is self-acceptance – and learning to love your introvert strengths.
It’s part self-awareness – who are you, what do you want, what does success look and feel like to you, what matters to you.
It’s part finding where you belong – what’s the environment that allows you to be your best (you already know it’s not in a large group setting).
And it’s part courage – to let your real self be seen and to believe that you’re enough just as you are.
Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True.
Your intuition is guiding you – pay attention. There is value and clarity in contrast – and you get to choose what you do next. One step at a time.
I hope you find value and comfort in Wise Introvert content…
Please share this post with a woman who is in the process of making peace with her introversion…
She needs to know that she is enough, and that she is not alone.
She needs to know that it’s time to unload the weight of that burden and free herself.