10 Things an Introvert Wishes She’d Known Sooner

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The introverts of our generation have been led astray in many ways. There are about a bazillion (approximately) things the average introvert coulda-shoulda-woulda done differently if we weren’t raised in such an extrovert obsessed culture.

In fact, one of the comments I get most from introvert readers is “I wish I’d understood my introversion sooner — my life would have been so different!”.

Now that the world is starting to see the power of introverts, we are coming home to our introversion, and living with fewer regrets. Still, many introverts continue to hover in a purgatory of confusion and guilt about our personality.

Hopefully, the below list will help you see your way through the fog, and live life on your own blissfully introverted terms.

Here are 10 things I wish I’d known sooner as an introvert:

1) Busyness is not a virtue.

I wish someone had told little innie me that busyness is not a virtue. It’s a lifestyle choice. For me, it was a fruitless one. It’s okay to leave empty spaces in your day. In fact, adding some nothingness to your day is productive because it reduces angry grumpy thoughts and increases your overall awesomeness.

2) Stop viewing yourself through a distorted lens.

Some people are going to think you’re weird, or snobby, or sad because you’re a daydreamer and solitude seeker. Don’t give into the pressure to view yourself through their distorted lens. Embrace and love the true you, and one day the right people will see you in all your gloriously strange splendour.

3) As an introvert, fewer friends is more fulfilling.

Popularity is overrated. Focus on the few friends you truly care about. This is what will feel most natural and fulfilling to you.

4) Stop trying to fix yourself.

No, really — just stop. You’re not broken.

5) Find meaning from within.

You don’t need to go out and “make meaning” in life. Meaning is cultivated, discovered, and understood by turning inward. Yeah, leaving the house might help you connect the dots, but you’ll just go in circles if you don’t take the time to reflect in solitude.

6) Frequent peopling is optional.

Sometimes, you just won’t be able to people anymore. This doesn’t mean you’re lazy or deficient. Frequent peopling is not a prerequisite for being a good person. Like busyness, it is simply a lifestyle choice. It’s okay to stay home, and it’s okay to like it.

7) You’ll outgrow those crappy people.

For a while you might attract frustrating people into your life. These supposed friends or lovers will see your quietness as a form of weakness. Or an invitation to talk at you, and never truly listen to you. Or they might try to manipulate you, not knowing that you can see right through their charade.

If you learn to embrace your introversion, and all the goodness that comes with it, the assholes will magically disappear from your life. Guaranteed.

8) The Internet is your friend, not your home.

The Internet is going to make your life easier and better in a lot of ways. Just don’t expect it to replace human love and affection. Take an Internet hiatus every now and then, so that you can make real life connections. Too much plasma screen = brain no worky no more (it’s true, Google agrees). 😉

9) Extroverts are NOT more attractive.

That extroverted guy or girl you envy is not more attractive than you. Beauty is not measured by how outgoing you are, or how many words you can say in a day. You really can be subtly seductive, and quietly charismatic. You can be an Irresistible Introvert.

10) About that mind of yours …

It’s beautiful, complex, insightful, and amazing, but …

You might want to reign it in a little (or a lot). Your mind is like a puppy that needs training, so that it doesn’t wreak havoc on your life. Take your brain for a walk now and then. Give it oxygen by breathing deeply. Let it stretch out in downward dog, or play dead in meditation. All of the above will quiet your mind and rejuvenate your mental landscapes.

The only thing you need to remember

I hope you found these ideas helpful. If you forget everything you read here today, just remember this:

You are enough just as you are.

Breath in. Breath out. And say it with me.

I am enough just as I am.

If you know other introverts who might feel uplifted, inspired, or just plain vindicated by my words, please share this post in your favorite Internet cozy corner — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ (yes, people actually share stuff on there), My Space, LinkedIn (If you are a grownup and you actually understand LinkedIn, which I don’t), email — you get the idea.

Also, feel free to share what you wish you’d known sooner as an introvert in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of love,

Michaela-Signature

 

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56 Comments

  1. Michaela, I feel relieved and fully ecstatic right now, that you wrote this…

    This makes me feel heard and understood and follows everything that I believe and teach to others. I felt very happy that you got this. I understand that INFPs can hold on to their beliefs quite strongly and seeing you grow and develop over the past year, has been wonderful. I believed in you and knew you could do it all along, and to see you believe more in yourself and pass these lessons onto others, and this is a total compliment coming from an INTJ….. I am sooo proud of you and I knew you had understanding and wisdom like this inside you the whole time, there’s more to do, more possibilities for growth and development of course and I’m confident that you’ll shoot for the moon and land among the stars!!

    When I read number 7, I said Yes, yes, she gets it! that one passage made me feel like hugging you and spinning you around, because I really hate seeing you get hurt and I feel worse if it’s me doing it by being so blunt and honest, however, You are always enough, and still amazing in my mind and I love it when you write things like this. There is no one exactly like you Michaela, and I feel so grateful to have you in my life and I wouldn’t know what to do without you. I know I’m not always easy to get along with, thank you for being patient with me while I practice emoting.

    Please be and feel free to be more of you, emphasize more on the quirky you please, because you are a delight to be around and quirky, strange, weird people are so attractive to me, mainly because they are my kind of people. I’m glad I came here today to see if you wrote anything new and to my delight and surprise, you really made my day. Thank you!! 🙂

    P.S. Write more please when you get the chance, I’m learning a lot and making so many connections and understanding so much too.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jacques! My #1 goal right now is to put more of my quirky self, and my truth into my writing, so thanks for the encouragement. 😉 cheerio

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      • You’re welcome! 🙂 If you notice the more quirky and true you are the more you get comments. 😉 Guess there is a lot to be said about being our true selves. Your audience loves you!! No matter how your emotions go, you still have my support and affection. Continue to be the real inner beautiful you that you were born to be and keep blossoming in unusual places, like you always have. 🙂

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    • Hope you are enjoying Victoria. I live on Quadra Is. and enjoy visiting Victoria as I like to stroll around down town and observe everything and nobody knows me.
      Thanks for helping me to realize that I am not that strange

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      • You’re very close! I enjoy being anonymous in new cities, too. 😉

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    • I’m so amazed at how much I relate to this. I have always felt like a misunderstood person. My writing is my cathartic realise. I love when I find writing that resonates with me. I feel like I am in a zone of understanding. Not a norm for me. I’m not so odd after all!

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  2. “7) You’ll outgrow those crappy people.
    If you learn to embrace your introversion, and all the goodness that comes with it, the assholes will magically disappear from your life. Guaranteed.
    9) Extroverts are NOT more attractive.”

    Hats off for the above true facts…..

    Michaela, I just felt like you were reading my mind point by point….as the heading says…’wishes she’d have known sooner’….it’s so damn true….my life would have changed to a great deal…it would have been so meaningful and productive if I had known all these things then……

    I nearly wasted all my school, college and few years of work life trying to be the so called ironical ‘ideal extroverts’ in an extrovert dominated world…it was always a pain, guilt, regrets and in turn feeling tired of thinking and doing all those stuffs….

    Your blog is one of a kind, a miracle happened in my life….keep on writing about the charismatic introvert souls…a therapy that heals and fills positivity in all our souls….

    God bless you dear.

    Reply
    • Hi Madhu! Thanks for your lovely message! So glad that you’re on the path of innie enlightenment now. Life is so much better without all those guilt and regrets! 😉 xo

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  3. Without saying to much Michaela, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said here! An wonderful article packed with such insightful words that literally make every introvert proud to be one, despite everything that we face. 🙂
    An stunning article as always. 🙂

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    • Thanks Marko! [insert dancing minion sticker]

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  4. Michaela, this was a wonderful article. I wish I had known all of these things as a teenager. I think if I did, my confidence and self-esteem wouldn’t be as low as they are now. But I am happy that I did eventually get exposed to these truths. Now I just need to teach myself to believe them when applied to myself. It is so easy to show others how to be kind to themselves, but harder to be kind to myself. Thank you. 🙂

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    • Wise words Ashley. I think you’re well on your way to integrating these truths. I’m internally singing that song to you: “Only believe … Only believe … 😉 xo

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  5. Great article number 4 really speaks to me. Stop fixing yourself. Everybody is different and we should not compare ourself to other people. Embracing who you are can give you a lot of inner peace.

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    • Thanks Amy. It’s true, comparisons only cause inner turmoil. 🙂

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  6. Very simply, I bow to you Michaela. Thanks

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    • Aw, thanks Moshe. 🙂

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  7. Yes! INNER meaning!! Why couldn’t I get that when I was in my teens?? Instead I put on a mask and made so many mental distractions and used people pleasing to stunt my growth just to fit in to this world.

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    • Hi Bianca, the outside world makes outer meaning seem so enticing that it’s hard not to be fooled!

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  8. I wish that I hadn’t begun to look at myself through a distorted lens sooner…my life would be so much better! This article was exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

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    • Ah, that pesky distorted lens! Glad the article was timely for you Sinamile. 🙂

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  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you Micheala, for always being spot on?

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    • You’re welcome, dearest! 🙂 xo

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  10. I’m typically guilty of #8, since that’s where my most meaningful connections have come from, at least initially most of the time. I tend not to be as open with people in person, and let them in slowly over time, as in years. I need to work on being comfortable with who I am among people who I run into frequently, which brings up #3,4,5,6,7! Great post, it really sums up who we are.

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    • Thanks for sharing that, Jeff. Lots of innies take our sweet time to let people in, but I like to think we’re worth the wait. 😉

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  11. Thanks for #4. I needed that. Growing up I always felt like something was wrong with me because I didn’t want a lot of friends and I almost always preferred to be by myself. I got tired of explaining to people that being by myself did not equate to loneliness. I think I’ll turn #4 into a poster and put it on my wall.

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    • You’re welcome Keptsia. #4 is one many of us could use reminding of daily.

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  12. I’ve only just realised number 4. Spent so many years trying to be the extroverted ideal, I’ve lost count of how many self help books I’ve burned through. It never worked. Only ended up stressing and burning myself out more.

    I go through periods of putting myself out there and then just crash. I think it’s time to do me now, accept who I am, and use the strengths innies have to my advantage instead of fighting against them.

    Thanks for this post.

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    • Sounds like a great idea, Sam. Just do you. 😉 xo

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing this post. One thing that I just figured out is to have a decompression plan all ready and in place before you go somewhere that you know will challenge you. Start with a preplanned escape time and then know where you will go for your needed sweet solitude. Knowing I have a plan really helps me. I just figured this out!

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    • Great advice JoJo! A decompression plan is a smart idea for innies. 😉

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  14. Great read! I’ve discovered many of these things along the way for myself, but realizing my introversion has really brought it all together and made me so glad that I’m not alone, I’m not a weirdo, I’m just an introvert! 🙂
    While I agree I do wish I’d discovered all of this sooner in life (I may have chosen a different career than nursing!), I do think there is value in the time spent so lost. Reading the book Quiet, I was really able to appreciate how she defines the Extrovert Ideal, having been in the position time and time again of people trying to put me into extroverted situations, and wondering why it’s so uncomfortable. And I am more glad now being on the journey to fully embracing and learning to live as an introvert, and can appreciate it more. Thank you for doing what you do! 🙂

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    • Hi Calli, yes, I agree that there is value in the time spent so lost. I learned a lot from those days when I wore many extrovert hats. 🙂

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  15. ive always wished i new sooner as soon as i realized my gift (if you will)… number 4 rings with me.. although all have a spot for me…. this is why i like your writing… in my younger days no one gave a shit about different or shy.. you were marked.. and thats
    it… the problem is also when you see those fake friends later in life.. your still marked.. and everyone they talk to judges you without even knowing you… actually no one really knew me…
    thank you.. dont ever quit writing

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, Dan. I’m glad my writing resonates. I hope the words give you more confidence in your true self. 😉 xo

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  16. Simply thank you! Your a blessing

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    • You’re welcome, Kathleen!

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  17. I wish I’d been more self aware of my preferred working style – quiet, time to think, creative, hands on, project oriented, no “team” environments. I went down a long, wrong, path of jobs that were a bad fit for me and caused inordinate stress. Starting with litigator…ugh! Hated every minute but didn’t know why. And felt like a failure when I finally left. I would have made better choices with the knowledge I have now. After 30+ years I’m still searching for a good fit, but thank you for the support. I feel less “different.”

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    • Thanks for sharing that Tonya. It’s funny how we feel guilty for not enjoying a job we think we ‘should’ enjoy, instead of simply finding what actually lights us up inside. I hope you find your perfect fit! 🙂

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  18. Hey Michaela
    What a lovely read. Definitely hit the spot. I have a curious question as an INFJ. What happens when you swing both ways so to speak? Should we just side with introversion as a general rule of thumb?

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    • Hi Osama, thank you. If you are a social introvert, that’s great. Do what feels most natural and energizing. Sometimes that will be connecting with people, or doing things that might seem more extroverted. What matters most is that you understand and honor your needs. xo

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  19. Hi Michaela,

    This is a very good article, and such good advice.

    I used to work in a hospital library. I know, a library sounds like the perfect place for an introvert to work. At first it was. There were 3 of us working in there and another 3 people working in the offices across the corridor. And of course the people coming in to borrow books and use the computers,but they weren’t much trouble. However, the building itself was extended and so more and more people moved in, so eventually there was a greater ‘team’ of 32 people that we had to have weekly meetings and twice annually ‘team building’ days with. It became unbearable and the other introverted members of staff saw these as negative and stressful rather than the highly enjoyable positive experiences that the extroverted people thought that they were. Eventually I left because I became so stressed-out. I had been blaming my stress solely on the family stuff that was going on behind the scenes, but since reading your blog and book, I am coming to realise it was because I was just surrounded by too many people all day. The Quiet book says to escape to the ladies room when you become overwhelmed, for 5 minutes. But there wasn’t even any peace in there, as the coffee machine was right outside the door, so there were always people outside chattering!

    I now need to find myself a job that I can do which doesn’t involve lots of people. Not an easy thing to find I feel!

    Oh and another thing about extroverted people not being more attractive although they might think they are. Some time ago I overheard two extroverted and highly self confident people who were having relationship problems say “even Sue has got someone” as it that was a highly unlikely thing. I thought charming!

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    • Hi Sue, thanks for sharing that! It’s sad that so many work environments that you think would be more introvert friendly are becoming anything but. I hope you do find the right place for you and your strengths. 🙂 xo

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      • Thankfully the business community is FINALLY starting to understand the value of EQ, emotional intelligence. I’m sure that it will be a slow process. I read that you Michaela opted out of the corporate world and many people here feel the same. I would strongly encourage you to use your gift to encourage business leaders to learn to adopt EQ in the workplace which in turn will help the introverts to blossom and therefore create a win win situation for all. So many talented individuals remain silent and frustrated because they “just know’ yet have difficulty quantifying it in the workplace if there is not an accompanying academic certificate. You can change this perception.

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  20. as an introvert, I wish I had known you earlier, Michaela!
    I love you, innie friend!
    cheers.

    Reply
  21. This article today was so helpful to me. #2 can be a challenge because people often tell me who I “should” be. I am making progress with it. I am very thankful for Introvert Spring for leading me in the right direction!

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  22. i experienced most of the list.
    i suffered when i was a kid until i go to college.
    constantly asking why my character is very far different from them and I’m always comparing myself to other people.they always tell me to become more talkative and seek exposure.when i go to work they ask me why I’m silent and does not talk too much,they always ask me the word ‘are you okay?” but
    thanks to the internet and your site Michaela. i search about my personality called introversion and i found out that I’m not alone. 🙂

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  23. What a way to start a Monday morning. Thank you.

    #3 is so true. I’d rather have one true friend than 100 fake friends. Who
    needs that #$%@?

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  24. Nice list, very helpful!
    To my list, I would add, “It’s okay to do your own thing, whatever it takes, to get through a social thing.”

    A couple of things that help me tolerate being out with people more (like at Meetups) is never, never, NEVER carpool… drive myself and I won’t be trapped!

    Also, on the rare overnight event, I absolutely HAVE to have my own room… no roommates! Yes, more expensive, but peace and recharging are priceless to me.

    Reply
    • So true Kris! Carpooling can be the ultimate kiss of death for introverts lol! I also agree that having your own room is essential (except if my roommate(s) is a very close friend, which can be okay for a little while. 🙂

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  25. Thank you so much for this!

    No.7 really hit home. I’m an INFP who recently got rid of two ‘friends’ who were manipulative and took my introversion as weaknesss, using my perceived ‘damaged state’ to make them feel better about themselves.

    One of these ‘friends’ was controlling, dismissive, suppressive, constantly gave me unsolicited advice, was extremely judgmental, and tried to make me feel as though somehow I was broken because I was (and have always been) happy and confident in my introversion. She would buy me books as gifts to help ‘fix’ me etc.
    She exhibited extreme narcissistic traits which makes sense, seeing how it’s usually the introverts empathy and sensitivity that they adore and abhor all at the same time.

    Like you mentioned, I saw right through it all; remained me, much to her frustration, and I see now, more than ever, how introverts are strong and amazingly wonderful. Society likes to try and crush anything different or which it does not understand.

    Thanks again.

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  26. I recently read a University study where individuals were put into a quiet room with no phone, no music, nothing to read, just a chair to sit on. The goal was to see how long they could sit there quietly with their own thoughts. The majority only lasted barely a few minutes before wanting to leave. No surprise. It occurred to me that most people have no inner monologue and if they even try they are actually afraid of what they will find.

    I give talks regularly to business people who say I am so motivational and charismatic and view me as a social animal, life of the party person. If they only knew how absolutely lonely I feel during and afterwards, drained. I cant wait to return to my safe haven of my country home outside the City and its swarm of ants running around following what everyone else does of the herd mentality. No wonder we introverts can appear so extrovert when we do ‘come out to play’ because we are such individual feeling thinkers that whatever we give off is just so out of the box to the herd.

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  27. Now that’s me, “wishes she’d known sooner”. Thanks so much for this michaela, wish i had read it earlier, especially no.4,”stop trying to fix yourself” Guess that’s what i ‘d been trying to do.

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  28. Love this post. Thank you ?

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  29. Yes of course I wish I should have realized that introvert personality is not a weakness!
    But glad now that I have !!! 😀 😀
    By the way could you please share your thoughts on escaping an useless conversation / small talk ?

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  30. It’s crazy that no one has brought up a fact that makes me sad. How could you couldn’t have simply used the word “they’d” instead of “she’d”. I am a male and I am seriously introverted, depressed and have social anxiety too. There is already a negative stigma associated with males feeling this way. I’d lie to ask that you please change the title and not feed the evergrowing stigma of male introversion.

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    • Please excuse the typos

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