Growing up as an introvert in a society that really didn’t understand that introverted people are allowed to exist without having to fix them wasn’t easy. I always felt like an outcast. Like someone who just didn’t fit in and will never because of my “weird personality.” A personality that felt totally right to me, but everybody else seemed to have a problem with it. I never understood why I was so different – or what made me so different, I just knew that I was.
Today, looking back at my self-conscious, shy, and insecure introverted self, I really wished I would be able to time travel to tell myself all the things that I know now…
Nonetheless, today I’m sharing with you 5 things I wish I knew when I was a young introvert in my teen years:
- Your time is sacred. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to think that people need to deserve your time and attention. However, what I do want you to know is that you don’t have unlimited energy as an introverted person. Yes – no human being has. But being an introvert means that our energy naturally runs out a lot faster than everybody else’s. This is especially so whenever we are in social contact with other people! And that’s also why you should always want to avoid wasting your precious time and energy with unnecessary things – for example, with pointless discussions or even fights. I know that negative and toxic people have a certain way to make you want to fight over things with them, but it’s just not worth it. (Remember, whenever you’re on the verge of starting to argue with someone about anything: Your time is sacred.)
- Don’t believe people who are telling you you’re missing out on something. If something really bothers me, then it’s people who try their hardest to make us regret our decisions of not going somewhere. Suddenly, you’ll be missing out on the time of your life when, in reality, your friends might just get drunk somewhere and only need you to get them a ride back home. Even if that’s not the case – I wish people would just respect our decision of not wanting to go somewhere. (After all, how are you missing out on something if you never wanted to go and experience that in the first place?)
- You’re not everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. When I was younger, I spent a big majority of my time trying to fit in. Despite knowing that I was very different from everybody else, I really wanted to be liked by other people. This is, of course, something that is natural for every human being as we all want to be part of a “tribe” and feel like we belong somewhere. However, my problem was that the tribe that I desperately wanted to be part of just didn’t like me the way I was. It took me years to understand that no matter what I tried, I would never be enough because I was never supposed to be part of that tribe. Now I know, instead of trying to fit in with people that weren’t like me, I should have accepted that and moved on. As an introvert, I was never supposed to be part of a big group of people anyway. (And that’s totally fine, too!)
- You’re not as weird as you might think. I know that the #introvertcommunity loves to point out how different introverts are from the rest of the world – and I totally get that, because we are different. Our brain works differently, we think differently, we often even talk differently. But it usually comes with a very negative connotation, giving us the impression that we are and always will be the “weird kids” nobody wants to be friends with. I don’t want to doubt that we often have it a lot harder to make new friends, but I can tell you that this isn’t because we are supposedly weird people. Yes, we might feel weird on the inside, talking to people who are far more on the extroverted side. But looking at as objectively, we look and behave far more normal than we think! (And many of us have really mastered the art of blending in with everybody else.)
- Drinking coffee will (most likely) become a huge part of your daily routine, but don’t forget you need to sleep as well! As I already mentioned, as introverts, our batteries run out a lot faster than everybody else’s. But, as the majority of our society is extroverted and performance-oriented, people generally expect us to be just as motivated and productive as everybody else. This makes drinking coffee pretty much mandatory, particularly if you work in customer service with lots of social interaction. But you have to keep in mind that this won’t ever substitute for a good night’s sleep, even though it is an excellent energizer. (Please, take good care of yourself! Self-care is the most important thing for an introvert.)
There are many more things I wished I knew before, especially growing up as an introvert in our society! I know that for most of us it has been easy and maybe won’t ever, but we can’t forget one thing: If we were supposed to be like everybody else, I’m sure we would be.
Let’s start seeing introversion as the extraordinary gift that it is!
My question for you: What advice would you want to give your younger introverted self, if you had the chance?