Even at a young age, I knew I was an introvert. I vividly remember spending most of my fourth grade recesses sitting alone on a bench, reading a book. My teacher would come over and encourage me to play with the other kids, but I always told her no. I was happy to be alone; I loved reading— I loved coming up with thoughts and ideas and stories in my own head. It’s not that I didn’t like to be with others, I just liked to be by myself.
As I grew older, I was told to “come out of my shell” and “step out of my comfort zone.” So in high school, I did. I smiled at people in the hallway more often. I joined Model UN and gave speeches to hundreds of people. I went on a school trip that I knew none of my close friends were going on. After years of practice, I finally became skilled at being open and sociable with others. Yet, even after all these years, it still didn’t feel natural to me. I’d always find myself exhausted after social events. All I wanted to do after hours and hours of conversation was go into my room and be alone.
At first, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. According to the society around me, the qualities of extroverts are the best qualities to have— personable, natural conversationalist, instantly comfortable speaking their minds. Yet, those things don’t come easily to me. Frankly, sometimes I feel uncomfortable even attempting them. It's against who I am. Yet, as I sat and really thought about it, I realized that’s completely okay.
Sure, I’m quiet sometimes; but when I do speak, I give it thought, so that what I say has substance. Yes, I’m not the best at conversation; but, I am a great listener. Being an introvert doesn’t mean having a set of disadvantages against extroverts. Rather, being an introvert simply means having a completely different set of qualities that are equally as great.
So, I’ve come to love being an introvert. It may sound cheesy, but being an introvert makes me who I am, and I’m so grateful for that; even if it does come with its own set of challenges. To all of my fellow introverts out there, I challenge you to embrace what makes you different. Sometimes the things you think are your downfalls are truly the things worth celebrating.