JUST BECAUSE YOU SHOUT THE LOUDEST DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE RIGHT.
Shy, quiet, introverted and frustrated are all words that I would aptly use to describe myself. Frustrated being the result of the previous three attributes. Frustrated with both myself and others for not understanding me. But mostly at myself. School was a challenge. Everyday was filled with a sour mixture of clammy hands, dread and mental unrest. Being forced to speak up in class felt as torturous as having pins poked into my eyes one by one. In fact, it was worse because at least with physical pain there’s an explanation. But the mental pain of simply being picked to speak in class was excruciating. Every single time. It had nothing to do with me knowing the answer or not, most of the time I did know. It was the verbal communication I had a problem with. And still do.
I’ve no idea where my introversion comes from. Both my parents are what I would call “normal”, not overly extroverted and centre of attention, but definitely able and comfortable to talk to people in a crowded room.
There are good and bad sides to being introverted. I prefer my own company to being around lots of people, especially new people, so I like to spend lots of time by myself reading, listening to music or just generally doing anything that doesn’t involve company. This trait is great for keeping myself occupied, for instance I am never bored. I love long car journeys. They’re an excuse to put headphones on, read a book and just escape the world with my thoughts for a few hours. The downside to this is that sometimes I need to escape my head. For people that like to spend a lot of time in the company of others, they have the option of leaving a room or a situation where they feel frustrated with another person. As someone who spends a lot of time by myself, I don’t have that option and this causes stress and anxiety, which in turn makes me more introverted. So it’s really just a never-ending vicious cycle.
I’ve missed out on so many personal and professional opportunities due to being introverted; most of which I’ve never even told anyone about because I feel ashamed sometimes by the way I naturally respond to situations. This is where the frustration comes from. Missing out.
There are some people that would say “just snap out of it” or “fake it ’til you make it”, but it’s not as simple as that; believe me, I wish it was! That’s like saying to someone who’s scared of heights to “just jump out of a plane, you’ll get over it” or telling someone with an eating disorder to “just eat”. There’s no “just” about it, there’s more than meets the eye, it’s how you are, you can’t change your genetic make-up.
Social situations for me are very painful experiences. Whether the environment is new to me or not, the faces are familiar or not; it doesn’t matter, I hate it. I can deal with one or a few at a time, but more than that and my brain goes into panic mode. I hate going out for a drink with my friends for instance. Lunch? Fine. But adding alcohol into the mix is really uncomfortable for me because it makes people unpredictable and I hate not having control in these situations. I find social gatherings physically demanding and I am often left emotionally exhausted after an event. It probably doesn’t help that I am a total lightweight and can’t handle my drink, plus alcohol makes me so sick, even after just a glass of wine.
I probably sound like the most boring bore on the planet right now. And I’m actually okay with that. I’d rather be deemed boring sat here on a Friday night in my pyjamas with a Capri-Sun than out in the freezing cold with a vodka and coke in my hand supposedly “having a good time”. Because to me that isn’t my idea of fun. That screams of anxiety and clammy hands to me.
I could go on writing on this subject for hours; it’s a huge part of my life and who I am that perhaps I would never finish writing about it.
People often mistake quietness for somebody with nothing to say, but in my experience it is quite the opposite. I’m studying to be a fashion journalist, my opinions are as valid as anyone else’s but they sometimes get overlooked by those with a chattier mouth.
Steve Wozniak (Steve Jobs’ right hand man at Apple) is a self-confessed introvert. Yet, his opinions and ideas have contributed towards the shaping of the everyday lives of billions of people on every continent on the planet. Ironically, Wozniak being shy and retiring has created a platform of communication for billions.
Need I say more?