Owning Pink isn’t really a place where young teens hang out on the internet, so though this message is about them, I suppose I’m sharing it for the women (and men) in their lives.
I work with the teenagers at my Unity church. I love it. It is one of my joys and passions. I learn a lot from these kids and as I observe them I reflect on my own childhood and teenage years.
When I was a kid, I was shy, quiet, reserved. I always had a few close friends that I had a blast with, but never quite fit in a bigger sense. I was terrified of group sports and activities, which I was told was because I was shy. Though, I’m sure I heard the word “introvert” I thought it was simply a synonym for shy.
Over the years I dealt with my “shyness”. I grew to hate aspects of myself. In big groups and around certain personalities, I could NOT carry on a conversation. I felt completely inept. I can’t tell you how often I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just be like everyone else.
Desperate to Fit In
As I grew older, my “shyness” and self-loathing made it hard for me to connect with boys. As my friends began to date and fall in (youthful) love, I felt like a failure. I was pretty enough and pleasant enough, but no one was interested. Eventually I learned to just go with the crowd, do whatever I could to be accepted.
By the time I hit college and had some freedom, I became a party girl. Alcohol was the only thing that helped me overcome my social anxiety, and because it worked, I used it. I also discovered I could connect with boys without having to worry about saying the wrong thing. In fact, they all seemed fine if I said nothing at all. That path never scored me a boyfriend though, just brief flings that left me feeling even more unworthy.
It was a tough time in my life and I’d like to say I saw the light, but really it was just that the light saw me. The light was my husband and our relationship is what pulled me out of all of that. I didn’t have to escape who I was anymore in the name of making connections. I had my close girlfriends and I had a partner.
After my husband and I were married we moved around the country (USA). We started over three times actually. It wasn’t easy and my “shyness” and “weirdness” stuck with me. I cried many tears about not being able to find friends and wondering what was wrong with me. I finally found a community that welcomed me and lost my need to alter my personality to fit in. And of course wouldn’t you know that when I finally stopped trying, I figured out that I am an introvert AND I learned just what an introvert is.
Suddenly my entire life flashed before my eyes and finally it all made sense. Introverts get overwhelmed in big groups, are not good at small talk, prefer to be in small groups, need time alone to recharge, and think deeply or overanalyze stuff. But introverts are also passionate and will not only come out of their shell but will throw the darn thing away if they are given a safe space to share what they care deeply about. Introverts are creative and thoughtful. Though they prefer quiet and low-key to wild and crazy, they are awesome friends to have.
If just one person had told me this when I was young, it would have changed so much. If I’d known that there was nothing wrong and that I simply needed the right atmosphere to feel comfortable I would have made different choices. I would have understood that alcohol wasn’t making me better it was just numbing me so I could live in a way my soul never intended. I would have known that if a boy wasn’t worth talking to stone sober over a meal, he certainly wasn’t worth making out with while drunk on a dance floor.
If someone had told me when I was young that I was an introvert, I could have learned how to honor that. I’m willing to bet I would have liked myself so much more.
So my advice to the mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, and grandmas reading this: if you know a shy, quiet young girl (or boy) that you suspect might be an introvert, take some time to read up and talk to her about navigating life as an introvert. You could very well be saving her from heartache in the future.
What about you? Are you an introvert? Have you always honored that part of yourself or did you, like me, feel that something was wrong? What advice would you give to fellow introverts?
Love and Light,
Visit my website: www.lesleehorner.com
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