If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably heard this question before.

Whether from an uninformed friend or family member, implying that you have a defect by questioning your aversion to social gatherings or “shy” demeanor, or from yourself after an especially awkward social interaction which you will replay in your head for the next 10 years.

At some point in our lives, we’ve felt less than, not good enough, overlooked, dismissed, misunderstood, awkward, socially inept, or out of place.

We also have the wonderfully conflicting ability to remember minute details of our interactions with others, including (of course!) the social mishaps we had rather forget.

This, my friends, is the introvert’s curse: to be so aware of and attuned to oneself and others in a world that exchanges purposeful interaction for surface-level small talk.

Given our difficult plight, I cannot overstate the importance of surrounding yourself with people who value, accept, and understand your introverted personality.

Unfortunately, this can be one of the most challenging aspects of being an introvert: finding someone who not only understands you, but also places value on your unique strengths and attributes and encourages you to advocate for these qualities.

As most introverts can attest, they spend much of their lives surrounded by loud, talkative extroverts who unknowingly stifle or hinder them from identifying and utilizing their strengths.

I was blessed to be raised by a mother who is an introvert and highly sensitive person. I remember many times when I would feel awkward or out of place and she would reassure me that my quiet and reflective personality was a strength that I should treasure and nurture.

However, even as insightful and observant as my mom was (and still is), she did not necessarily label my quiet nature and preference for solitude as “introversion”.

Her reassurance did not and could not shield me from the ever-popular “why are you so quiet?” question to the “I’m sure you’ll grow out of it” statement.

It wasn’t until we came across Marti Olsen-Laney’s book, The Introvert Advantage, and Susan Cain’s Quiet, that we were able to make sense of everything.

Introverts are not social outcasts, awkwardly trying to connect with others through inept social skills (although we feel this way at times).

Introverts are highly socially intelligent, with an ability to identify small nuances in communication and to link together multiple viewpoints and statements to create an extensive understanding of a given topic.

Introverts thrive on meaningful conversations, quiet contemplations, and authentic relationships.

We’re also skilled at reflecting deeply, even to the point of becoming slightly obsessed with an idea, statement, or experience.

Our ability to be so easily attuned to our surroundings and to others, while also being very aware of our own internal thought processes, can leave us feeling drained and exhausted.

Living as an introvert can be a lot of work, especially when we’re expected to assimilate into an externally-oriented culture and to display extroverted characteristics to connect with others.

At times, we may even wish to be an extrovert. We marvel at the ease at which they make small talk, how swiftly and effortlessly they make friends, and how they always seem to have something to say.

We think life would be easier as an extrovert, given that cultural expectations are based on extroverted strengths.

In a society that values, promotes, and idealizes extroverted traits, it’s easy to overlook and underestimate introverts’ quiet nature and inward focus. This thinking can even lead to a dislike or disdain for your own introverted qualities.

Society at large, and even introverts themselves, struggle to see the immense value they add to the workplace, school environment, home, and community.

In order to permanently put this flawed thinking to rest, let’s consider 5 critical introverted strengths and why you should relish being an introvert.

1. Introverts are less concerned with social approval.

Introverts have a deep need to act authentically with the world around them. This is why trying to convince an introvert to attend a social gathering in order to appease others, save face, or make small talk is virtually useless.

Introverts crave genuine connection with others and they know that social pleasantries often get in the way of more meaningful issues.

This need for authentic living allows introverts to care less about social approval or meeting societal standards or expectations for behavior. Introverts’ need for increased alone time and tempered need for social interaction gives us the strength to reflect on our values and to behave genuinely and purposefully with others.

2. Introverts are comfortable with stillness and being alone.

Given that introverts are naturally drawn to spending time on their own, it’s easy to shift into a reflective state or meditative mindset.

Turning off the noise of the world to be alone with your thoughts is not a dreaded challenge, but is rather an energizing, calming activity that releases suppressed feelings and settles a cluttered mind.

This also allows introverts to think deeply and creatively and to accomplish various tasks with minimal redirection or guidance from others.

3. Introverts connect with others on a deep level.

Although introverts may envy the ease at which extroverts make friends, we often undervalue our ability to create meaningful connections. Introverts have a natural desire for purpose-driven and meaningful conversations.

Although this can create challenges when it comes to making small talk, this need for intentional interaction helps introverts form and maintain long-lasting relationships.

Introverts can also boast in having excellent listening skills and being able to empathize with others’ experiences with minimal effort.

4. Introverts can more easily attune to their own voices.

An introvert’s mind is a complex and ever-evolving network of experiences, thoughts, feelings, and memories. Because of our natural focus inward, it is easier to become aware of our innermost beliefs, values, and purposes. This awareness lends itself to self-reflection and a natural inclination towards self-improvement and personal growth.

5. Introverts thrive with creative freedom.

Introverts have a strong sense of independence and often prefer to set self-directed goals. When given the freedom to explore and unleash their creative side, introverts can produce intuitive, insightful, and empowering works of art.

Accurately articulating and displaying an introvert’s mind would be quite a creative feat—don’t you think?

Living in a fast-paced, extroverted world is challenging. However, introverts have been given the gift of preferring a quiet life.

We’ve spent most of our lives feeling like we don’t belong.

It’s time to clearly and boldly articulate our unique, indelible, and desperately needed strengths to others the best way we know how: quietly.

About Me

Chelsey Brooke Cole is a professional counselor and Pathfinder Coach, helping forward-thinking introverts create clarity, confidence, and calm by learning to quiet their inner critic and trust themselves more.

About Me

Chelsey Brooke Cole is a professional counselor and Pathfinder Coach, helping forward-thinking introverts create clarity, confidence, and calm by learning to quiet their inner critic and trust themselves more.

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