Things I’ve Learned from Being an Introvert
Have you ever wondered how you fit in? Have you ever felt different from those around you? Have you ever questioned why God made you a certain way? Have you ever worried something was wrong with you?
I felt this way for years and came to a critical moment in college when I even begged God three times to change my personality type.
You see, my personality wasn’t the problem. My problem was that I lacked an understanding of who I was…or perhaps even worse, I had a MISunderstanding of who I was. I knew I was an “introvert”, but throughout high school and college I continued to see the weaknesses (when comparing myself to other people) without also seeing my strengths as clearly.
Here are 7 things I’ve learned on my journey so far:
- My introversion is NOT a weakness!
Introversion is not a changeable character trait nor a measure of how “outgoing” you are, rather it is a core personality type that does not change. Introverts are not in need of “fixing” but rather they are a beautiful and necessary part of the body, without which the rest of the body could not function. Introverts may have tendencies toward having certain weaknesses (just as extroverts have tendencies toward certain weaknesses, too), but the personality type itself is not a weakness.
- Many people still have a misunderstanding of what “introversion” means.
While we’re at it, let’s debunk some other common misconceptions about introverts. Many people still associate “introverted” with “shy” and that just isn’t true. There can be confident, outgoing introverts and shy extroverts. In Marti Olsen Laney’s book, The Introvert Advantage, she says, “Introversion is at its root a type of temperament. It is not the same as shyness or having a withdrawn personality, and it is not pathological. It is also not something you can change. But you can learn to work with it, not against it. The strongest distinguishing characteristic of introverts is their energy source: Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions, and impressions.”
Many also assume introverts don’t like people. Though introverts often need alone time to recharge (or at least time with only a few or one friend they’re comfortable with), this doesn’t necessarily mean the introvert doesn’t like people. They may even enjoy going to parties or crowded concerts; they just might need some time alone afterward to recharge.
I, personally, am such a relational person that it often frustrates me that I don’t have enough energy to spend a lot more time with people. I LOVE people! I even have a ton of friends; however, most introverts would prefer to have a few close friends over many surface level friends (quality over quantity…not to say that extroverts don’t also value quality). Yes, there can be introverts that hate people, but that is not because of their introversion but because of something else personally going on in their heart as an individual.
We cannot judge anyone by a stereotype. Nor should we let others’ misunderstandings of us define us.
- Introverts are not lesser than extroverts.
I’ve heard people say, “I need to stop being so introverted” or “I need to become more extroverted”, but, again, this is not something that changes. What the person really means is something more like “I need to get out more”, “I want to be more confident in conversations”, or “I want to get over my social anxiety.” Those are things that can be worked on and may be completely irrelevant to one’s introversion or extroversion.
In countries such as America, stereotypically “extroverted” qualities tend to be praised primarily. Many people seem to value loud, outgoing leaders who can make snap decisions over those who take their time to think things through in a pursuit of excellence and getting it right the first time. They value assertiveness over a gentle spirit. They’re impressed by quick words over reliability and loyalty.
However, both personality types have valuable strengths, both for leadership and supportive roles. One is not greater than the other. They are different but equal.
- My voice matters
Too often I’ve let others interrupt me and I didn’t feel I had something important enough to say to push my way into a conversation like everyone else. Too often I’ve doubted the value of my words because others seemed more confident of their own. But I’ve come to learn that MY voice matters, too, so I shouldn’t silence myself. Many people even WANT to hear what I have to say. So, it’s time to stop overthinking it and just be myself.
- There’s power in fewer words
I’ve found that if I’ve been quiet while listening in a conversation and finally open my mouth to speak, people tend to hold more weight to my words than the others who had been spouting off whatever words and platitudes that popped into their heads. They know I’ve truly listened and thought through my response.
- Being a good listener is a rare and valued quality
Introverts, in general, tend to be better listeners than talkers. Through my experience of using my listening skills, I’ve learned how great the need is for it. It breaks my heart to see how desperate people are just to be heard. Hardly anyone listens anymore. Most people only listen just enough to figure out what THEY’re going to say next, rather than truly listening for the sake of hearing the other person. I can’t tell you how many people (strangers even!) have opened up to me just because I actively listened and asked them a few questions. Everyone wants to be heard, so being a good listener is an incredibly valuable trait.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
James 1:19, NIV
- I am exactly who I’m supposed to be and God’s grace is sufficient for me
As I said before, though character traits and skills can change (i.e. I can work on improving my speaking skills), core personality types do NOT change.
I’ve learned to accept and LOVE who I am while also growing in the areas that I can work on. Remember how I once begged God three times to change my personality? It reminds me of what Paul once said and I’ve held onto these words whenever I’m tempted again to feel bad for my weaknesses.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NIV
Now I can confidently live my life knowing that God designed me on purpose and for a purpose. He gave me my specific strengths for a reason. I’ve already seen Him use my personality to help other people in incredible ways and I am excited to see how He continues to use me! An amazing journey lies ahead.
A Little About Anna
Anna is an ambitious, creative introvert with a passion for helping others understand who they are and learn how to apply that knowledge for personal growth and goal success. She believes people are too unique to fit inside neat and tidy little boxes or follow cookie cutter advice. We are each beautifully and wonderfully made with different sets of strengths and weaknesses; therefore, a growing understanding of self is crucial for knowing what works for you and what doesn’t when trying to reach your goals.
Want to get the knowledge, resources, encouragement, and inspiration you need to “know yourself, grow yourself”? Check out her blog, YouTube channel, and follow her on Twitter.
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUxFbakaoxTD3ZrnhPz3KDw