As an introvert, I have often found myself feeling misunderstood and out of place in social situations. It's not that I don't enjoy spending time with others, but rather that I find large groups overwhelming and draining. In fact, I often need time alone to recharge and feel like myself again.
For years, I struggled with feeling like there was something wrong with me for not being outgoing and sociable like many of my peers. I would force myself to attend parties and events, even though I knew I would feel uncomfortable and exhausted afterward. It wasn't until I learned about introversion that I finally understood why I felt the way I did.
Being an introvert doesn't mean that I'm shy or anti-social, although those traits can certainly accompany introversion. Rather, it means that I gain my energy from solitude and introspection, and that I prefer deep and meaningful conversations to small talk. I often feel like I have a rich inner world that I don't share with others, but that doesn't mean I don't value human connection.
One of the most challenging aspects of being an introvert is navigating a world that often values extroverted traits such as assertiveness and outspokenness. In school and in the workplace, I often felt like I was overlooked or dismissed because I wasn't the loudest or most outgoing person in the room. However, I have come to realize that introverted traits such as listening, reflection, and empathy can be just as valuable in many situations.
Another misconception about introverts is that we don't like people. While it's true that introverts may prefer spending time alone or in small groups, we still crave connection and intimacy with others. In fact, introverts often form deep and lasting relationships with others precisely because we tend to be more selective in our social interactions.
As an introvert, I have learned to value my need for alone time and self-reflection. I have also learned to communicate my needs to others, whether it's asking for a quiet corner at a party or taking a mental health day from work. By accepting and embracing my introversion, I have been able to cultivate a sense of self-awareness and authenticity that I might not have found otherwise.
Of course, being an introvert isn't always easy. I still struggle with feelings of social anxiety and self-doubt at times, and I have to work harder than some of my more extroverted peers to assert myself in group settings. But I have also learned to see my introversion as a strength rather than a weakness, and to appreciate the unique perspective that it brings to my life.
For anyone else who identifies as an introvert, I want to remind you that you are not alone. There are millions of us out there, quietly navigating a world that often seems designed for extroverts. It's okay to take the time you need to recharge, and it's okay to prioritize meaningful connections over superficial ones. Being an introvert is not a flaw or a mistake, but simply a different way of experiencing the world. And that, I believe, is something to be celebrated.
Introverts are naturally adept when it comes to actively listening, according to Buelow, who identifies as an introvert herself. “We tend to be the friend or colleague you can call on when you’re upset or you have good news to share,” she says. “We’re going to be able to listen and be with you in that, without turning it around and making it about us."