I’ve always been an exceptionally quiet person.
The kind of quiet where people actually forget I’m in the room with them if I sit still for long enough and the sentence, “When I first met you I thought you were stuck up because you never talk,” has actually been said to me on multiple occasions.
No matter the circumstance, there is always someone at work, school or just in my daily life that underestimates what I am capable of because, “quiet people can’t make it very far in the world.”
And sometimes people overestimate what I can do, spouting out things like, “You must be really smart,” because if you’re an introvert, books have to be your best friends.
I’ve always related to Mia Thermopolis from “The Princess Diaries” on a spiritual level because, even though no one has actually sat on me, I know what it’s like to feel invisible.
The thing is, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being an introvert. I actually kind of like it.
I like the focus that comes with not getting distracted by other people. I like that I’m not friends with a million people because it means I can spend more time with people I really love than just a little time with people I kind of like. I like that when I do have an extroverted moment (and I do have them) people are surprised with just how much I have to say.
I haven’t always felt this way about my introverted tendencies, though. The grass is always greener on the other side and that saying becomes truer when you live in a world that glorifies the outgoing and casts those who are quiet as shy, book-loving rejects.
My life is full of well-meaning extroverts who think it is their job to “fix” me. As if my preference of a night at home with my dog over a night of partying with a bunch of water pong (yes, water pong) playing college students is a medical condition that can be cured if I “just go out for a couple hours.”
I’ve been accused by people in my own family of having no emotions because cheering in excitement isn’t my first instinct at the drop of some good news. I’m usually the one whose name no one in class bothers to learn all semester. And if I had a dollar for every time someone told me I should “learn to be more extroverted” because of fill-in-the-blank reason, I’d have enough money to buy all of the books people naturally assume I’ve read.
What no one seems to realize is that my success in life is not correlated with how much small talk I can make in a single day. If anything, the part of my personality that so many others see as a flaw will only take me farther in life.
Beloved author Dr. Seuss was an introvert. He “was afraid of meeting the kids who read his books for fear they would be disappointed at how quiet he was.” Barack Obama, Meryl Streep, Michael Jordan and Bill Gates are all self-proclaimed introverts. Even J.K. Rowling said she was “too shy to ask for a pen” when the idea for “Harry Potter” popped into her head.
Maybe instead of spending another Saturday night forcing your friendly neighborhood introvert to go out with you, you should spend some time sipping tea, watching Netflix and sitting in silence with someone who could be the next Albert Einstein. After all, sometimes the quietest people have the loudest minds.