Every Introvert I Spoke To Neglected This

 

One of the most surpising introvert problems

Like many introverts, I used to be drawn to structured activities because they gave me more control over my social life. They also made me feel like a good little citizen of the planet extrovert.

In my teens and early twenties, I joined organized sports and organized religions, whilst I dutifully organized activities as a volunteer and students’ council representative.

While these activities did help me build a sense of confidence, it was a situational confidence that was limited to certain environments and scenarios. I felt good about myself when I was wearing my volunteer hat, or in a leadership role, but in regular circumstances I floundered.

Without the safety of structure, I felt exposed. Vulnerable. I didn’t know what to say, or how to behave in a lot of situations. Worse than that, I was always worried about what other people would think of me. Like many introverts, I couldn’t see my value beyond what I could do or achieve.

Every introvert I spoke to neglected this

The other day, while talking to one of my introvert students, I heard a familiar story. Jamie told me about her passion for self-improvement, her love of learning, and her desire to be a better person. What stood out was what was missing from her long list of goals and ’should-do’s’.

Like every introvert client and student I’ve spoken to, Jamie neglected to see the importance of unstructured play.

The word “play” alone is a tough one for introverts. It causes us to imagine all the activities that deplete our energy, or make us feel like fun is simply not in our DNA.

That’s because an extrovert’s version of play is often different than ours. I define play as any unstructured activity that is done for no other purpose than to bring you pleasure and joy.

You see, we innies get caught up in the need to always have a purpose for everything (another one of those notorious introvert problems). If it’s not something we can tick off our to-do list, what’s the point?

I was chatting with one of my innie girlfriends the other day, Julianne. I asked if she had read any Nicolas Sparks novels. “Yeah, I’ve read one or two. They were pretty good,” she replied. “but I don’t have time to read books like that with the huge pile of personal development books I’m trying to finish.”

It was hard for her to justify reading books simply for pleasure. We introverts often wonder, if there is no concrete purpose behind the activity, what’s the point?

The purpose of play

Our preferences for play, or anything else for that matter, serve an important purpose. They show us the path to personal fulfillment. Instead of honoring our desires, introverts tend to get very good at brushing them off as silly or unimportant.

When I asked my innie student Jamie what she liked to do for fun, she said hesitantly, “Well, I do really like going to the movies, but I know that’s not really …”

“Yes! Going to the movies is great if that’s what you like to do,” I chimed in, before she had the chance to completely discredit her preferences.

There is no need to deny our authentic preferences. They have the power to lead us back to that childlike sense of lightness that is quickly overshadowed by the responsibilities of adulthood.

The fear of letting go

You might worry about letting go of some of your structured activities. You imagine that these are the things holding you up. Without them, your sense of security and confidence will deflate. I used to think this would be the case, but the opposite happened.

I learned how to build core confidence that persists in nearly any situation – even the unstructured and unpredictable ones. Now this is exactly the kind of confidence I help my Unbreakable confidence for Introverts students cultivate. Take a peek inside. >>

I hope that you can forget your introvert problems and enjoy a little bit of unstructured play today.

Love,

Michaela-Signature

 

 

 

15 Comments

  1. I was good until you made the comment about letting Jehovah’s Witnesses in as evidence you have been inside too long.

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  2. I could really relate to this post. I am famous for my to-do lists. I am always working on self-improvement, reading work-related books, always striving to learn; so much so that I forget to have fun. I even took a more structured type job which I am now realizing was a mistake. Us innies don’t like to “waste” time doing things we don’t feel are worthwhile. I need to get back to having more fun, and doing things I like to do, and not always feel like I need to be doing something “worthwhile.” Thanks for the reminder to keep it light, and not get too serious about life.

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    • You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing your experience with this Dolph. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Excellent post. I admit I like to play (this is why I relate more to children than adults most times) but I always have a sense of guilt when I do,feeling like I’m just wasting my time and should be busy with more important things. I’m glad I came across this article,thanks Michaela.

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    • You’re welcome! Glad you liked it. 🙂

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  4. have you been spying on me?sure feels like it.this is one of the best article I’ve ever come across. you really got through to me. thanks.

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    • Thanks Bill! Yes, I’ve been poking around inside your head – lots of interesting stuff in there. 😉

      Reply
  5. Am I an anomaly? As there are many relatable aspects to this post. The idea of just being and having a day of pure nothing has been an aspect of my introverted nature as long as I can remember. I think the only times guilt became attached to my need for having such days were either when my mother attached “lazy” to my need to simply have days to recharge. Or when I became a wife and mother and thus felt guilt for wanting the sheer pleasure of pure nothing. It got to the point that I had a joke with my husband “I do nothing well.” Meaning the art of “nothingness”. I relish days of nothing and just being.

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  6. I love the word Random.
    When I lived in California, there was the opportunity to backpack due to the predictability of the weather. Some memories of random trips that stick with me thru a dozen years.
    Snowshoe backpacking in Sequoia on top of several feet of snow. Of course I found an area to start from that was closed for the winter. I found a high area giving me a view for miles. Utter beauty.
    Los Padres outside Santa Barbara. I came upon a natural hot spring in the middle of nowhere. There were two decks built on the springs. Not a soul but me all weekend. Heaven.
    Third. I have no idea where this was, but it was miles from any road. An abandoned dam made of concrete. Old graffiti – well over 20 years old. Inside the dam were walkways and I found clusters of bats. How long had this place been abandoned?
    Overall, in the solitude of nature, there are no expectations of you.

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  7. wwwwwwwwwwooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    apparently like millions of other people that found out after much suffering etc, i just discovered today that i’m whats called an introvert. and there are a whole lot of other people that experience/relate to all those funny things about me 🙂
    i’ve been sitting for hours reading non-stop about all about it, and peopl’s comments and experiences.
    i read a whole bunch of articles on this website (including this one obviously, which i totally “get” like so many others, just i’m dealing with this issue right now). and it was great! fantastic! loved it! being that i didnt eat all day (been glued to the comp), i have no energy to express my thoughts on all the different ideas in the articles and the comments. but i definitely enjoyed it. so thank you very much michaele! and all those who comented as well. its really great to be on the same page as other people. cant wait to read more and check out videos and stuff. oh wow. Thank G-D. blessed be He!

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    • You’re very welcome! I’m glad you can see that you’re not alone. xxo

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  8. This is not me at all. I think what you’re referring to is a J Judging personality trait rather than anything to do with introversion. I’m an INTP and I love nothing better than play. My problem is the opposite, doing actual work is daunting. I can go to movies, go ice skating, play golf, read, play my guitar, get lost in the rubik’s cube, walk, hike, go to wineries, museums etc. I could go on all day. Anything but work. I make to-do lists but it’s more to remind me to pay my bills or get gas or some practicality without which I’ll be in trouble. And trust me, those troubles are why the to-do list came about in the first place. Ugh. It’s not a natural thing. Anyway, I enjoy your site, keep up the good work…

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  9. Its almost as if all your posts are about me… Like I know we’ve never met, but you know more about me than some I’ve met. For me all your posts are real and helpful in understanding myself; I was beginning to think I was abnormal… THANK you Ma’am 🙂 thank you

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  10. I can relate to this! I never thought of myself as introverted but I see myself in every single article in this site! I’ve read one fiction book this past year because I felt guilty to indulge in such pleasurable activity (and waste my time for “nothing”, in my mind) when I had a pile of unfinished work, chores, etc. I love reading, by the way, but would deny myself the pleasure.

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  11. Thank you Michaela,I’ve known for a while now that I’m an introvert,but I had no Idea all of the traits connected to it.I thought it was just me and my abusive background.Being very ill most of my life,I have had a lot of time to learn how to enjoy the little things,like playing an with cuddling my pets.And I have developed some hobbies that help.But everything else is spot on.I also love the idea of finding others to relate with,I’ve also joined several groups on Face Book.I don’t have a lot of friends,my chemical sensitivities and not liking crowds have kept me pretty close to home.Most of the friends I’ve Had over the years have moved on as they deemed me to much work,oh well,I’ve learned to be happy with the few souls in my life that do love me just as I am.One person that claimed to love me actually told I was too much work.The other one never said,but sure acted like it.My self help stuff leans more to getting healthy at the monent,but I do like to learn about a lot of different things.The last few days of reading all I can find the subject has really opend my eyes to what has been going on in my life.It’s helped put things in perspective for ,so thank you for your insights

    Reply

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