I do this really annoying thing whenever someone asks me how old I am.
I say, “I’m ageless”. It’s my cheeky way of avoiding the question. It has nothing to do with what they think of me, and everything to do with how I think of myself. I want to forget my age, and all of the expectations and stereotypes attached to it. And yet …
Here I am announcing to the hundreds of thousands of introverts who visit my blog every month that I am thirty-one. 31-31-31-31-31-31. Maybe if I say it enough, it will lose its meaning. I’ll let go of the idea that 31 has to be a certain way. I’ve done this before.
Releasing Introvert Myths
I let go of the idea that an introvert has to look, act, sound, be a certain way. I let solitude change shape. Alone became a castle of comfort instead of a sign of inadequacy. I looked my true personality straight in the eye, and let all the myths dissolve. The myth of not enough. Of too quiet. Of I-will-be-worthy-when-I-tick-all-the-boxes-and-fulfill-expectations.
When all of that melted away, my life began. Before, I was living someone else’s life. Being an introvert, I know I can come off as selfish sometimes. I probably am. But sometimes what seems like selfishness is something else.
It’s the desire to be in full possession of myself. To own my body, my energy, my mind. To be master of my time, even if it runs out too quickly, or drags along slow as snails. I want to know that my life is my own, that I’m not giving it away to people who don’t see me.
I’m turned off by the North American need to possess, own, acquire and accumulate material things. I own very little. That’s why it’s essential that I fully own myself. All the flaws, all the goodness, all the lessons, all the mistakes. And of course, I am damn well going to own my introversion. Join me?
On my 31st birthday, after 31-31-31-31-31-31-31 (31!) years of being on this earth, I give you …
31 Ways To Own Your Introversion
Give away the thing that is not meant for you. The hectic job, the overstuffed social calendar, the lover who doesn’t love you back, the need to please, the extrovert’s blueprint for a fulfilling life – give it up, so you can reclaim YOU.
Learn to forget things. Forget the way you should behave. Forget all the unflattering myths about introversion. Forget the person you were trying to be to please others. Forget it all so you can …
Do what you want. Make room in your life to do what you want to do instead of what you should do.
Question your desires. Do you really want XYZ? Or are you pursuing them because A and B told you it’s what you want.
Be nicer to yourself for goodness sake! The things you say to yourself make Gordon Ramsay look like a Sunday school teacher. Enough with the self-criticism.
Turn your amazing observation skills inward. Instead of judging your thoughts and desires, observe them as you would puppies playing together. They might be hungry, pathetic, hilarious, or ridiculous thoughts slobbering all over your sense of reason. But they sure are entertaining.
Stop abandoning yourself. If you feel an uncomfortable emotion coming on, sit with it for a while instead of running away. Even if someone decides to leave you in the most painful way, or you feel like God has forgotten you. Hold your ground. Stay with you.
Do something creative. Even if it the end product sucks.
Turn inward. Make introspection a habit, like brushing your teeth, or driving to work. While you’re at it …
Let go of the guilt. Introverts spend too much time feeling bad about our supposed shortcomings. It’s okay to be an introvert. It’s okay to be imperfect.
Remember to inhale. There is a writer’s saying: “writing is the exhale, reading is the inhale.” you can’t always be producing. You need to consume as well. Slow down. Take in air, art, books, silence.
Make lists. I don’t mean to-do lists. Fill pages with reasons why you’re loveable. Make a gratitude list. A desire list. A list of every nice thing anyone’s ever said to you.
Give to others in the most selfish way possible. Give what feels good to give. Make others happy in a way that makes you happy. If it feels like a chore, it’s probably not yours to give.
Stop apologizing for who you are.
Share something about yourself without invitation. Don’t wait to be asked. Talking about what matters to you creates connection, while reminding you of who you are.
Own fewer material possessions. This will leave more mental space and energy to take full ownership of yourself.
Make friends with someone who is your reflection, as well as someone who is your opposite. Both will help you recognize your true nature.
Set an intention for who you want to be and how you want to live. So much of living our most authentic life starts with the decision to do so.
Measure your life by emotions instead of achievements. If something made you feel strong, or happy, or alive, or excited, or better than you were before, that is worth celebrating.
Tell people you are an introvert. This isn’t about justifying or explaining. It’s about sharing without shame. In doing so, you will help others to understand you.
Lean into your fears. They will lead you towards who you were meant to be.
If you can’t say it, write it. This is how the introvert revolution began, and it is how you can revolutionize the way you see yourself.
Edit your life often and ruthlessly. You’ll know something doesn’t belong if it feels heavy, like a lie. Or if thinking about it makes your stomach turn.
Slow down. Speeding through is the extrovert’s way. As an introvert, you will be happier if you take the scenic route in life.
Love your alone time. You’re not being anti-social, weird, or unproductive. Solitude is a necessity for introverts. Might as well enjoy it.
Tie an anchor to your phone and toss it into the depths of the sea. Or maybe just put it on silent for a while.
Make the right kind of friends. Choose friends who will accept you even when you are in the dreaded self-destruct zone of your energy cycle.
Recognize that introversion is not a limitation. You can be a social introvert, or a bold introvert, or a risk-loving introvert. Introverts share many traits and challenges, but we are still each unique.
Learn about introversion. It will help you piece together the confusing aspects of your personality. It will help you to feel whole. (start here.)
Create boundaries – Not to keep others out, but to keep yourself in. In-trospective. In-ward focused. In-tuitive. In-spired. In-troverted.
Recognize that this is the age of the introvert. The introvert revolution is in full swing and the whole world is has noticed. Now is the perfect time to take full, unapologetic ownership of your introversion, and yourself.
Over to you
Inspire other introverts by sharing what you love most about your introversion in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂
For more amazing introvert resources, subscribe to my mailing list. You’ll receive two FREE ebooks, an energy recharge email series, and my popular weekly newsletter.
A real masterpiece Michaela. 🙂 These ways are going straight on my wall, so they can remind me every day what’s really important. 🙂
I could write to no end why I love my introversion, but I am going to define it in a few short and simple sentences that will describe it completely: I love it because through it, I have found myself. I love it, because my introversion is making me feel happy every day, making me feel fulfilled. Last but not least, I love my introversion because by discovering my it, I have found something some people spend their whole lives trying to find… It’s that ever-elusive victory within. 🙂
By the way, Happy Birthday here as well. 🙂 I love your answer when someone asks you “how old are you”. 🙂 Age is really just a number, what really matters is, how do you feel inside. 🙂
Yes – the victory within! I love it. Thanks, Marko. 🙂
Happy 31st Birthday!, Michaela. I appreciate your list of “31 Ways….”, and already they are positively impacting my thinking and attitude about the introverted life. Thanks so much for sharing your awesome insights and giftedness. I offer this prayer I found, as a Birthday blessing, and for the upcoming New Year 2016 :
“Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when thou art near
O king of night and day?
More safe am within thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand.”
– Columba (c. 521-597) – Alone With None But Thee
Love the birthday blessing!!! It’s my daughter’s birthday at the end of January (the introverted daughter) – I’ll be including this blessing in her birthday card! Thanks so much 🙂
Thanks for sharing this great list! I think most points apply to everyone though, not just introverts. I love #24. Also, I find that in the course of say, a year, I go through (and need) phases of both introversion and extroversion. Thanks!
#13 is a game-changer for me.
Also, I kind of love the fact that you’re the same age as me. 😀
Happy Birthday!! I don’t like to make a fuss of myself either but it depends. I do a 180 with the closer ones or sometimes complete strangers. I like how calm and content I am when I’m alone. I feel free to be me. It’s almost like meditating.. sort of. =-P I also feel the least lonely by myself. I am my own best friend. I am never bored but if I am, I like it. But if I don’t like being bored, I figure out what to do! 🙂
I love the fact that I think very deeply..which is a challenge oftentimes because I rarely meet people with whom I can converse on real topics.
Being alone so much of my life has allowed me to learn much, learn guitar well, make many pencil sketches..etc. I wouldn’t switch my personality for anything, even if it is sometimes unbearable difficult!
Happy 31st, Michaela! I remember turning 40 and it being more anticlimactic than anything else. What do I love most about my introversion? My creativity and feeling comfortable enough with myself to choose alone time instead of pretending to enjoy social events.
Hi Michaela! I think the best thing about being an introvert is not worrying about being alone. I SO look forward to it! It must be really awful to always need people around you… I’m happy that at 31 you have learned and embraced what it is to be an introvert. I am 55, and am just learning to accept and be happy with my introversion. Thank you for being so eloquent and helping the rest of us. You go girl!!!
More of these hit home than I care to mention… Don’t get me wrong, this was helpful, and I definitely want to implement them, but a few stung a little, like number 5(*whew* number 15 is always easier here, but still intimidating) But it’s a good sting, like cleaning out a cut, it hurts in the moment, but it beats infection any day. Best birthday wishes to you!
your age defies your appearance.i see you like 26 🙂 anyway happy Birthday!
At 54 years of age I am still trying to embrace being an introvert. I am getting there, slowly but surely, loving who I am. And the list above only confirms what I already know and still need to learn. Nothing wrong with being an introvert. Thanks Michaela.
Happy belated birthday Michaela! 31 is a great age to be! Especially for someone wise beyond their age! Thank you for everything you do for us introverts. A birthday present every time! 😉
Happy Birthday Michaela.
I turned 31 earlier this year 🙂
No 2. In the list resonated with me – letting go of notions of how I should be.
Great text to start a new year! Your intro reminded me of this thing I answer when someone asks me the most meaningless question there is: “How are you doing?” (I know, it shouldn’t be meaningless, but you know what I mean… No one is really really concerned when the ask that.) So I found a funny little answer on that: I act a little bit concerned and say: “Sure. Don’t I look fine then?” You should see the akward faces sometimes when they have to answer that one. 🙂
Well written, and happy birthday! Lot of these hit home, but still working on a few. I am a social introvert, I need time alone, but I also need some company sometimes. I find I do better with a relationship with someone I like, then I feel I can be alone with someone. But I had my heart broken by someone who, in my eyes, was the perfect person. I’m trying real hard to let them go, like you said, but it isnt easy. Also having a very hard time making friends-I’m so picky about who I will spend time with, its hard to find someone I actually want to be friends with which leave me feeling very isolated.
Happy Birthday! I’m a lot older than you and it took me a long time to become comfortable with who I am. Now I just tell people I’m an introvert. It often opens up some interesting conversations and makes is possible for other introverts to share who they are. In the process of discovering my introverted self I wrote a book called The Dynamic Introvert: Leading Quietly with Passion and Purpose. Writing is the perfect occupation for me. Cheers!
Michaela … Happy Birthday … I wish you all you wish yourself :o)
another inspiring article !!!!
Happy Birthday !!!
Happy Birthday Michaela, I hope you have a blessed special day 🙂 I love my introversion because it allows me to understand and listen to other people who might need others to listen to their problems, their doubts, their joy, their sadness, etc., so I can be there for them and cheer them up! I may not be a good conversationalist, but I AM a good listener.
By the way, could you write an article about ambiversion? (many people might fall into this category)
Also, I read in one of your articles that you’re an INFP, but what is the difference between an INFP and an INFJ?
Hope you have a Happy New year!
Happy birthday! There have been two major event in my life that have led to a greater appreciation of who and what I am. One is discovering EFT and the other is your writing. I’ve found that age is just a numerical value and as I live and learn life gets better and better. May each of your years be better than any of the previous.
Happy Birthday Michaela! Thanks so much for this article – I’ll be passing it on to my introverted daughter, she is struggling so much with being an introvert! Hopefully these points will give her some encouragement. I must say though in point #7 when you say “you feel like God has forgotten you” – always remember that God never forgets you, and he always has your best interest in mind, and that’s the most encouraging thing!
Happy Belated Birthday!!! I just found your site yesterday and you are the best thing in the world! <3<3<3
Happy Belated Birthday Michaela!! 🙂 Cheers!! Wishing you all the best this year and all the many yet to come.
Happy belated birthday as well, Michaela. This list is a great read. My favorite things I especially own that’s on your list is No. 3 (Do what you want–heck, yeah!) and No. 25 (Love your alone time–double heck, yeah!). Thanks for your list! Have a happy–and quiet and peaceful–new year.
You’re welcome, Stella! Thanks for the warm wishes. 🙂 xo
I think I’ve just recently started to embrace #7. I’ve always gotten stressed in certain social situations – often mundane ones like ordering food at a fast food joint. For most of my life my reaction to that stress would be to try to stuff it down inside, telling myself it was silly to have anxiety over such things. Just recently I’ve started to give myself “permission” to just feel the anxiety, and a funny thing has happened – I actually feel better! It turns out that trying to “not feel” was causing more pain than the anxiety itself.
Now why did it take me 39 years to figure that out….?
Happy birthday and new year Michaela! I’m so grateful I found your blog, I’m inspired every time I read your posts. Since joining this community I’ve stopped pretending to be someone I’m not and begun to appreciate and love my personality. Not abandoning myself (including not rejecting my introversion) and finding the right friends and environments are so important for me right now. Thank you so much for all you do ☺
Hi Michaela, only now I could read this (during the holidays I was ill and had to stay in bed most of the time 🙁 ) and I just want to say – for me – THIS is one of your best posts! 🙂 –
Just today I had a painful experience with a longtime friend (extrovert) who has no idea how an introvert (like me!) ticks. The friend talked to me like an old-school “schoolmaster” and I felt like a “bad schoolboy”. Horrible! – After reading this post I’m feeling better again! – THANK YOU! – And afterwards happy birthday and new year! – Matthias
PS: I think I’m going to read this post over and over! 🙂
“Give away the thing that is not meant for you…” Great first point straight out of the gate! This post was so well written and, every single point was so true. Outstanding Michaela.
Thank you Michaela. My wife and I are introverts and we created 3 introverted children. At first, we were struggling with this because we remember the emotional turmoil of growing up and felt like there was a way to nurture our children to be more aggressive and become the A personality types we are led to believe are the successful members of our society (the truth is inot rovers are just as successful as extroverts, or just as brave, or just as confident). Thankfully we’ve started accepting our introversion and are learning more effective ways to prepare our children for this world. This site has become our main resource guide and these 31 Ways to Own Your Introversion has become dinner time lessons that we go over. So thanks for sharing so that we would not feel alone.
I am slowly realising what makes me tick and how tired I have become from pushing myself through situations with demanding people/jobs that have not suited my true personality!
Thank you Michaela. The #2 is really something that I try to live by right now so that I can be my real self and set myself free.
Amazing list! #7 hit me the most. I used to abandon myself when the going gets tough – but not anymore! I’ve nailed this thing down, at last! Now whenever I feel like my life is falling apart, God has abandoned me and I hate everyone ’cause they don’t listen or understand me, and even though I have heavy feelings of guilt, regret and shame – I don’t abandon myself anymore. I own my emotions, I own what happened, I own where I am even though the path ahead is uncertain. I roll with it and I do my best to provide myself with what I need. The turning point happened when I had to defend myself and everyone around me, especially those closest to me, were invalidating how I felt and what I was going through. That’s when I discovered my inner strength. That’s when learned how to validate myself and not to depend on others’ validation/opinions of me.