Living in a culture that can feel like it values extroversion over introversion, there are times when many of us wish we could swap our quiet nature for that of someone more outgoing. Those of us who let that longing go have found ways to focus on all the positives that come with introversion and change our attitude towards ourselves. Here are 3 ways that Paris has learned to value her own quiet nature.
1.Going it alone
In the same way that you might look at a group of people and consider each one brave for being able to go out as one and socialise, have you ever considered how brave you are in the eyes of someone who has no intention of experiencing something on their lonesome?
If you are out on your own, your entire energy and interest is focused on that which you are there for the sole purpose of experiencing, no person or thing can guarantee to distract you from your focus and therefore to feel anxious. Solitary plans remind you of what is most important. You are not obliged to speak to any fellow audience members who might just happen to start a few words with you. However, the energy you take from you own personal experience may well find you more than happy to share a brief word with a kindred spirit.
Whether you find yourself solo at a gig, the cinema or a local event, it is simply nice that you have the choice. You are in a position of control, you have enabled yourself to reinforce your own preferences outside of your comfort zone where you bear all and all is witness. It is a wonderful feeling to be kind to yourself and treat yourself. You are entitled to it just like everybody else.
This one particularly helped me because I can feel socially anxious when I am simply walking down the street. It’s the walking past people; the roar of traffic; the awareness of my own bearing. I noticed how I would not stand tall with my chin up. I would have my head down a lot, and wouldn’t take things in, and I most certainly would not smile to passers by, as if they had just done something to insult me gravely.
I began to run, initially light jogging – it took me a while to be sure. First I started laps in my garden, then a small deserted field of green behind my house and then slowly but surely ventured onto pavements. Running forced me to hold my head high. I would say in my head “yes, I have much right to walk or run these streets as everybody else. I’m choosing to not just walk but run and it’s more than the pedestrians around me can say”. I was energised, my mind clearer. I decidedly chose not to wear headphones so as to take in everything, like I felt I should have done whilst walking.
3. Say what you want
As someone who once upon a time barely spoke unless spoken to, I always figured what little I did say had to be of the utmost value, relevance and correctness. As if there was always a right or a wrong thing to say. What exactly is the shimmeringly award-winning perfect phrase to utter?
I recall in my college days, times when I found it difficult chiming in during group discussions, be they sociable or academic. I would sit there thinking so long and hard about what I wanted to say that when I did finally speak a few words, they would manifest in the most unconvincing, stunted and borderline rude manner. In my mind, I had put so much thought into how my single diminutive tidbit of input would escape my lips that I never really considered how forced my words had sounded.
Yes it is true, our words can have a significant first impression but we simply cannot put pressure on ourselves to say something we don’t necessarily mean, believe or want to share. Do not feel like you have to voluntarily say anything if you feel completely content in your quietude. The difference with my attitude a while back is that I was not comfortable at that point. I wanted to join in, say something funny, impart my knowledge of a stimulating current affair I had read about that morning in the papers.
Perfectionism is exhausting and overrated anyway, so let us let go of saying the ‘right’ thing and instead try saying the ‘real’ thing – what we truthfully feel within. Let’s be honest, if everyone on earth could only open their mouths when they have something impeccably relevant, constructive, enlightening or thought-provoking to say, things would be far quieter – and for once, I do not think quieter for the better.
Paris is a Sociology graduate with a great appreciation for the creative arts. She was extremely coy, and taciturn in her earlier years. Although still introverted, university and adulthood has helped her overcome this somewhat but, more importantly, helped her to accept who she is. Paris loves to read and, primarily, write. She keeps a blog of poetry and prose at crumblesome.wordpress.com