By Jane Bowden
The life of the party is a phrase that’s often used to describe extroverts. They’re people who appear to thrive in social settings and are perceived as friendly, outgoing and, many times, more likely to achieve success. Let’s face it — if someone were to tell you that you exemplified these traits, you’d probably take it as a compliment.
But if you were called a “timid wallflower,” how would that make you feel? Would you be ashamed, hurt or embarrassed? Would you wonder if they thought you lacked confidence, or that you wouldn’t ever be able to become a successful leader?
This is how I’ve felt for most of my life.
I’ve been told a lot of things about my introversion ever since I was a child. “You’re too quiet,” “You need to get out of your shell,” “Why don’t you ever speak?” — to name a few. I learned from an early age that being quiet was something I needed to work on and, in a way, something to be shameful about. I wanted to be that outgoing, personable kid that everyone liked, but I just couldn’t. To me, it felt like people only saw me as “the shy girl,” and I hated it.
As years passed, I became increasingly frustrated with myself. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake my quiet persona, and it started to affect my relationships. People told me they thought I didn’t like them or that they avoided talking to me because they didn’t think I’d talk back — all of this because I was an introvert, which broke my heart and made me feel alone.
However, as I’ve come to learn more about myself, I’ve realized that introversion isn’t a weakness, nor is it an insecurity I wish I didn’t have — it’s a strength that’s made me who I am, and has motivated me to prove others and even myself wrong.
By being introverted, I’ve become an attentive listener, and I’ve learned how to be more mindful, which has only strengthened my relationships with my friends, family members and myself.
Introversion has also inspired me to be more expressive through the clothes I wear, photography and writing. In fact, writing has been the most rewarding aspect of my life, because I’m able to release the energy that’s inside of my head and express my inner personality through the words that I write. It’s even motivated me to strive toward my lifelong dream of becoming an author.
Even as an introvert, I’ve been able to hold leadership positions, such as managing editor of The Signal. You don’t need to be an extrovert to be a successful leader. J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama — these are people who have achieved success and identify as introverts.
Although I’m introverted, I’m capable of much more than society thinks. Believe it or not, I can be talkative around people I am close with, present in front of a classroom of people and take charge in a meeting. The only difference is I need a bit more alone time in order to recharge before I socialize.
So, the next time someone asks me “Do you ever talk?” don’t be surprised if you hear me yelling from the rooftops — I’m introverted and I’m proud!