I have always been introverted. I spend a lot of times with my head in a book and most of my thoughts live in a journal. Nights at home are not downers, but are often the highlight of my week. I love the quiet, and being alone is not a curse but a blessing. I am an introvert, through and through.

To me, introversion is a beautiful and rewarding life, yet nevertheless a challenging one. We live in a world that caters to extroverts. Small talk and "participation grades" are dreaded realities. As children, when someone got in trouble for talking, they were forced to sit by the "quiet kids" as punishment or for us to "model good behavior". Yet, at the same time, we're seen as being somehow stagnated in our growth because we are quieter. Quieter kids are labeled as "shy", and authority figures constantly insist that one day we will "come out of our shell", as if suddenly talking excessively means you've "matured into yourself". We don't have a word for people who are loud and have always been loud. We don't talk about a kid who talks frequently by saying things like: "oh, they'll grow into themselves". Talking, even when you probably shouldn't, is considered normalcy.

We absolutely have to disrupt this narrative. From day one, we've equated intelligence with loudness and ignorance with silence. If you don't speak up, it is assumed you have nothing of value to say. This mentality is damaging and does not seek to value the potential in every person. By doing this, the message is being sent that the louder you are, the more respect people will have for you. Intelligence suddenly has nothing to do with content, but rather tone and volume of voice.

We can't expect the world to change and accommodate for us. It's on us introverts to share ourselves in anyway we can, to debunk the rumor that we are silent because we are unintelligent. Introversion calls for a wisdom of knowing when it is best to listen, and when it is valuable to speak. The rich inner life of the introvert is incredibly valuable and deserves to be shared. Our strength is in moderation, and our strength is in listening. Because we are so observant, our strength is also in how much of the world we take in, how much we have been able to see and hear because we are able to step away from ourselves.

So, introverts, remember: just because you are not valued does not mean you do not have value. Just because you have been misunderstood doesn't mean you are misunderstood by everyone. Your introversion is a strength, not a hindrance. Keep reading books, keep journaling, keep understanding the world in your own beautiful and unique way. You are a rare soul, but there are enough other rare souls who stand beside you in the quietness.