I have an important message for all the introverts in their twenties.
You’re probably still trying to sort out who you are and what you want. People have been giving you mixed messages, saying things like “be yourself,” and then doling out advice about how to come out of your shell and be more outgoing. Confusing, much?
You’re probably still sorting out how to navigate this crazy extrovert’s world. You wonder how you can get all the things you want in life (love, money, validation), while feeling so different from everyone else.
You’re under a lot of pressure to achieve and succeed right now. Maybe you feel like a failure because you haven’t figured it all out yet.
Perhaps, there’s a little troll inside your head, saying things like:
“You’re a failure!”
“You have no idea what you’re doing.”
“You should be further along in life by now.”
“You don’t deserve to be loved.”
The secret to life
I want to share the secret that the media, your colleagues, and many of your friends have been trying to keep from you:
No one knows what the hell they’re doing. One answered question in life inevitably leads to more questions. That’s a good thing. Can you imagine how boring life would be if you knew it all and could do it all without the slightest bit of discomfort?
And, aside from those slick gregarious types, who everyone loves, but secretly hates at the same time, most people feel like they don’t fit in. We’re all special snowflakes. It’s just that a lot of people have gotten really good at pretending. As an introvert, you may have super ninja acting skills from years of striving to conform to the extrovert ideal. I know I do. But all that pretending is really exhausting and the rewards are negligible. It’s a relief to let go of the need to conform and impress. Consider the words of Marion Woodman (prose arranged by Jill Mellick):
We have lived our lives
Behind a mask.
Sooner or later
If we are lucky
The mask will be smashed
What a relief to be human
Instead of the god or goddess
My parents imagined me to be
Or I imagined them
You’re right where you should be
Everyone feels like they should be further along than they are. This is especially true for people in their twenties. For many of us, this is a time of constantly striving, of floundering, and failing, and feeling like the only one in the universe who doesn’t know what the hell they want to do after college. It’s a time when we are still discovering who we are and what we want.
The problem is not the fact that we haven’t got it all figured out. It’s that we feel like we should.
The right time for love
If you’re postponing giving and receiving love until you’re somehow more ready or worthy – SPOILER ALERT – love is not earned. You don’t need to do anything to deserve it. You don’t need to pay off your student loans first, or be better at making conversation, or lose twenty pounds. You’re worthy right now.
The overarching message that I want you to take from this is that you’re okay. The unanswered questions, the flaws, the feeling like you have no freaking idea what you’re doing – it’s all okay. You’re not the only one.
I’m okay with the fact that my life looks nothing like how I planned it would. It’s really alright that I don’t have the handsome husband, the babies, the career with a title that doesn’t confuse the hell out of people.
I’m learning to accept the fact that I literally cannot live my life the way other people expect me to. I’m an uncertainty junkie, and a predictable life kills my spirit. Instead of seeing this as some sort of fatal flaw that needs to be cured, I’m okay with it.
One of the hardest things of all for me to be okay with was my introversion. But finally, after a long time of feeling shame about it, I have learned to embrace my introversion.
It’s okay that I get overwhelmed more easily than others, that I genuinely enjoy being alone, that I need time to think before I speak, and that group activities aren’t my gig.
I’m okay. And so are you.