Contradictions are sexy.
Lucky for us introverts, we are brimming with qualities that seem to contradict each other. Here are a few examples:
Quiet + Confident
Serious + Playful
Intense + Mellow
So, why is it that contradictions are so sexy?
As humans, we are naturally drawn to inconsistencies. Imagine seeing five white dogs lined up in a row, plus one black one. Which one will you notice more? The black dog is actually not such an anomaly. But in this context, it contradicts our expectation of uniformity and sameness.
As introverts, we naturally defy other people’s expectations of what we ‘should’ be. They assume that a quiet person must be shy, unassertive, and bland. Our ability to simultaneously embody so many seemingly conflicting qualities sparks confusion, but also fascination.
What introverts can learn from Marilyn Monroe
Of course, it’s not just introverts that harbor intriguing incongruities. Iconic sex symbol Marilyn Monroe is a classic example of this phenomenon. She was an outrageously successful, gorgeous and sexy goddess of a woman.
With this in mind, you would expect her to have been vivacious and incredibly confident. And she was … on the surface. But just one thin layer beneath her public persona, she was heartbreakingly fragile.
Monroe’s unexpected vulnerability is fascinating. We stand with mouths agape at the idea that one person can be dripping with glitter, glamour, and out of this world sex appeal, and yet, still be so … what’s the word?
The gentle lioness
Like most introverts, I am overflowing with opposing qualities that constantly drive a wedge in people’s expectations. This became very clear to me as I was reading my introvert friend, Sarah Jones’ free ebook, Why PUA Doesn’t Work For Introverts & What Works Instead. The ebook is meant to teach introverted men how to authentically attract women, but I found many nuggets of wisdom that apply to all introverts.
In the ebook, Sarah shares an exercise to help you find your values. She provides a long list of values and you circle the ones that really resonate with you. In doing this awesome exercise (it’s on page 20 of the ebook, in case you want to try it), I realized that many of my core values seem to completely contradict each other.
Freedom + Groundedness
Fierceness + Gentleness
Focus + Fun
Society might tell us that the above qualities are in conflict with one another. But they are not. The gentle lioness really does exist. So, too, does the introverted adventurer, and the quiet catalyst for change.
I just finished reading Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker (yep, I read that kind of stuff). One of Eker’s “wealth files” states that, “rich people think ‘both.’ Poor people think ‘either/or.’”
The common way of thinking is that you have to choose between desires that appear in conflict. Love or money. Career or family. Adventure or security. But, wise and wealthy people know that you don’t have to choose. You can have both.
So, as an introvert, must I be shackled to one narrow definition of what people expect me to be? Should I choose to embrace only my gentle side, instead of the inner fierceness that drives nearly everything I do? No!
I choose both.
And I am all the more intriguing for it.
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Michaela, your thoughts about Marilyn in context of “introverts” are very interesting. – As a huge Marilyn-Fan I’ve asked myself thousand times, WHAT really is the FASCINATION of Marilyn? – Although I’m a man 🙂 it’s NOT her beauty (outside). At first, it’s that what’s coming from her INSIDE! Her charisma. – I can see the CHILD in her eyes (almost on each photo!) – She even could stand naked, being INNOCENT at the same time! Meanwhile I believe, that “this child” was BOTH: Strong AND vulnerability! – She was STRONG enough to become a “immortal” star, although she had such a hard childhood. I believe her “little-girl-dream” of becoming a good actress made her strong, much stronger than the most people I know… 🙂
Her DREAM fired her up! This is for me, the “secret of Marilyn”. – Coming back to “introverts”. Compared with Marilyn: It doesn’t matter, if someone is quiet or vulnerable, when he has a DREAM and goes for it, he becomes strong… silent, but effectiv… There’s an old German saw: “Stille Wasser sind tief”, this means “calm waters are deep” 🙂
Absolutely, Matthias. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I agree that Marilyn was a strong woman in her own way, and I admire her for it. 😉
Hey Michaela-When you talk about PUA not working for introverts, what do you think about all of the dating advice out there for women? Does He’s just not that into you, why men marry bitches, and the rules apply to introverted women? I think not. These books also encourage you to be someone that you’re not, and attract guys that you may not even be compatible with.
I was thinking this morning about the very same subject, so reading your post is timely. Why can I be so meek and yet so fierce at the same time? I think society likes to pigeonhole people, and introverts are the least pigeonhole-able of people. This is why we get labelled as crazy, because we don’t fit into the stereotypes people want.
I think the gentle lioness depiction and reference fits me as and INFJ female, wife, mother, teacher, writer, leader. I am married to a wonderful man. He says I keep him on his toes, in a good way. Well, um, most of the time! I do think some of my core values contradict each other, as stated above. I guess this does confuse people. I hide much mental treasure and only occasionally care to share. Gauging by past experience, it takes very big challenges to bring out the best in me. Then, people tend to see what I am made of. I am perfectly okay with not fitting stereotypes. Truth be told, I love not fitting stereotypes! In addition to the above, I have the mysterious mystical strength, love, and power of the Holy Spirit as a follower of Christ.