We Don’t Need To Come Out of Our Shell


Many introverts have become accustomed to hearing the phrase “come out of your shell”.  And by ‘accustomed’ I mean we’ve heard it a lot, but it still annoys the heck out of us.  So, in the spirit of comradery, I thought I’d share with you a few reasons why we don’t need to come out of our shell.

What Do They Mean?

First things first: what do others mean when they say, “come out of your shell”? The implication is that we are in some kind of self-imposed prison. People think that they are doing us a favor by offering to liberate us from our confinement.  To them, freedom looks a lot like Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  They can’t fathom that it might look different for us.

Shell vs. Prison

Contrary to what others think, an introvert’s shell is not a form of imprisonment.  Prisons are meant to punish.  Shells are meant to protect. Many prisons also have the goal of curing or correcting inmates (hence the word “correctional facility”).  An introvert’s shell is more like a shield that preserves our inherent awesomeness.  It does this by protecting us from over stimulating environments, conversation vampires (people who constantly talk but never listen), and probably zombies (haven’t had a chance to test this out yet).

Portable Home

A shell is like a super lightweight home away from home.  I can, and do, take my shell all around the world with me.  In fact, it is what prevents me from burning out as I travel.  Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, I can put up my invisible shield and prevent a full-on meltdown.  This last point is the clincher and I think it is the one that extroverts have a really difficult time understanding.  When an introvert retreats into her shell, it means she needs to create some separation between herself and the surrounding environment.  This is not the time to go dancing through the streets of Mardi Gras.


Friend Finder

Our shells have magical powers that allow it to decipher potential friends from people we just tolerate.  The latter category is made up of pretty much anyone who tells us to come out of our shell.  When we are with people we love, the shell automatically recedes because we know that these individuals won’t try to change us or drain our energy.  Our true friends recognize that bullying someone into behaving a certain way is obnoxious, which brings me to my next point:

What Is Their Motivation?

When someone tells you to “come out of your shell”, they are doing so for their own peace of mind.  On the surface it appears that this person just wants you to have fun.  This is partly true.  The deeper reason is that they cannot have fun unless they believe that you are having fun.  It is a form of codependency that is drenched in guilt.  If we then change our behavior to make them feel better, we are also acting out of guilt.  As I’ve said before, we should be driven by our convictions, not by guilt.

That pretty much sums it up.  If I missed any shell superpowers, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.



  1. Another introvert here. Just loved this post! Heard that soooo many times, it’s kinda like “leave me and my shell alone, we like each other’s company, thank you very much” haha Keep it up!, love the blog 🙂

    • Thanks Veronica! Glad you can relate.:)

  2. Extroverts will never understand what makes introverts tick. I like your take on being an introvert, especially the portable home and friend finder paragraphs.

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for your comment! Yes, It is difficult for extroverts to understand us, but I hope that it will become easier and easier as more people understand what introversion is all about. 🙂

  3. This is a great post, I can really relate. Society created this “unwritten rule” that we must “come out of our shell”, but it’s just forcing us to be someone we’re not.

  4. Love this post. I know how it feels, I’ve been just rejected at a job interview beacause I wasn’t ethusiastic enough. I had told them I observe and listen and that it can come of as if I don’t like something. And I’ve told them that I am not an extrovert, still I got rejected.

    Sorry for my English, I am from The Netherlands.

    • Hi Manon! Glad you liked the post. Sounds like you wouldn’t have liked that job anyway. 🙂

  5. I really appreciate this post . Thank you, cos I felt sad when my boss appraised me the phrase he still need to come out of his shell. God bless you

    • I’m so glad that it was helpful for you, Francis. xxo

  6. I can’t tell you how many of my elementary school report cards went home with the comment, “Diane needs to come out of her shell.” Oh, those painful moments of enforced “class participation.” Not to mention the ultimate nightmare: oral book reports! I would have loved home school if it were available back then. Maybe. On the other hand, I only went to school to see my friends, so…as you’ve said elsewhere, introverted doesn’t mean antisocial!

    My shell was my only small protection against the cruelty of children, but unfortunately my crippling shyness (yes, I was shy, too) made me an easy target for bullies. If any parents read this, please don’t tell your shy child, “Ignore them and they’ll stop.” They don’t. To ignore teasing may or may not be the right approach, and I can’t go back to try anything else and find out, but don’t promise your child a result that can’t be guaranteed. I was crushed more and more by the unfairness when my very best “ignoring” only increased the teasing. A slap to the mouth might have worked better, if I’d ever had the courage to try it.

    Well, what didn’t kill me made me stronger, of course, and I’m very strong now. =) I finally did come out of my shell late in high school, mostly because I was sick and tired of being shy. I decided to pretend not to be shy with a new person who didn’t know I was shy, and soon found it was an easy step from pretending to actuality. With those who knew me well, I couldn’t change overnight, but with new people I was a completely different person. Now in middle adulthood, nobody can believe I was ever shy, and they probably don’t see me as an introvert. But I know who I am. =)

    Lots of good stuff you’ve got here! I’ll be sending my few introvert friends.

  7. One thing I wish I could find addressed is how at work presentations, often the presenter (who happens to be a bubbly or enthusiastic extrovert) does group things like role playing and other such nonsense to get a reaction out of people and to teach something.

    I have grown a lot and I can speak in public now and go to group get togethers (though I am still awkward with small talk) but all of this drains me, so it still isn’t my natural mode of being.

    Yet despite the growth I have attained, I still hate and get really flustered and butterflies in my stomach when having to do role playing in a group setting or even one on one with someone I don’t know. Another thing about it is that it defeats the purpose of what they are trying to do. When they start doing these extroverted geared exercises, my shields go up and it is all I can do to get through it… I’m not learning much at all but my discomfort level just shot through the roof. It is the one thing they could do to basically block the receptivity to my brain.

    I have found that doing EFT helps with calming these feelings but still I feel queasy and out of my element being put through these things.

    If Extroverts want us to get out of our comfort zone (i.e., be more extroverted) in what way do they get out of their comfort zone?

    Thanks for the article.

  8. I’ve been told many times to “Get out of your shell”. Let’s be honest, there could be several reasons why a person is what he or she is. Maybe in childhood you’ve been like this from beginning, staying reserve, minding your own business, less communication skills. But let’s be honest one must become more open because in work places it will not work to be totally antisocial. I do talk sometimes with people but for some reason I just like to be left alone. I love watching tv, work on my career goals, or more communicate with 2-3 friends go on a hike, call them, happy hours but that’s about it. I do joke around with people who I work with, I talk a lot with them yet I am still told I am anti-social, am I missing something here?



  1. [BLOCKED BY STBV] Come out of your shell…! | Personal development - […] http://introvertspring.com/introverts-come-out-shell/ […]
  2. [BLOCKED BY STBV] To Introverts Who’ve Been Told To Get Out Of Their Comfort Zone | Introvert Spring - […] an introvert, you’ve probably been told to “come out of your shell” or “get out of your comfort zone”.…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *