As I sit snuggled up in my bed with music softly playing in the background and the book I'm currently reading by my side, I reflect on how I am truly representing the ideal situation for many introverts to be in. Being an introvert is a trait of mine that I have been embarrassed about for my entire life, especially when my outgoing-ness began to decline. When I was in elementary school, I was extremely talkative, exciting, and just downright fun. However, once middle school started, I began to step back and close myself off. I stopped raising my hand in school, didn't talk to as many people, and overall stayed home much more often. No one really seemed to realize that this was happening, which lead to a downward spiral of me feeling invisible since.

Moving my way through high school, I had managed to form a small group of friends through band. Music was our muse, which led us to connect in ways that most friends never really get the chance to. There were four of us, and while the number is small I cherished their friendship and how close we grew. Even though I was aware that my friends had a bunch of other friends, I was still comfortable with the fact that they were really my only ones. In the fall, marching band took over my life, which basically exhausted all of my social time. I was never really invited to parties in high school, I hated sleepovers, and never had any money, so I usually resorted to laying in my bed and watching Netflix when I wasn't busy with band.


The power of introverts | Susan Cain www.youtube.com


Once I graduated high school, I knew I had some serious self-reflecting to do. I had to figure out how to become an extrovert, because how else will I make friends? Even though I've continued to do band, I knew that college was a whole new playing field. I found myself going to parties and having panic attacks because I struggled to talk to people and just stood there awkwardly instead. I tried so hard to raise my hand in my classes and participate because I really did have things to say, but my mind and body were on two separate pages. The very few friends I made in college would ask if I am okay, or if anything was wrong. I know they mean well, but there rarely is a reason for me being quiet; I just, well, am.

Even though I have random spouts of embarrassment about being an introvert, I've slowly come around to this inescapable characteristic. I've learned that it's possible to be shy and outgoing at the same time. Turns out it's completely normal to be outgoing in front of people you're comfortable with (such as friends and family) and more closed off in other situations. Also, introverts can do anything that extroverts. What's cool about introverts is how flexible we can be. Whether it be a presentation, performance, or any other event where you're in the spotlight, many introverts can be comfortable enough for that bit of time and resort back to quiet time later. Lastly, and one of the most important things to know about being an introvert for me, is that you don't have to be loud to be a leader. There are so many people who have changed the world quietly.

Overall, I've learned that being an introvert is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, you should be proud. There are fewer introverts than extroverts in this world, which means we are needed. Extroverts and introverts go hand in hand. The next time you ever have doubts about yourself, consider the strengths you have as an introvert and reimburse yourself with confidence. You are not shy, an outsider, or an embarrassment. You're an introvert and you're cool too.

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world" -Mahatma Gandhi