Each of us has a story – several stories actually – woven together by the ever-evolving thread of who we are. These personal tales are important. They give meaning to our past, and shape our current identity. As an introvert, you have several stories about your introversion. Many of them are riddled with shame and guilt.
It’s time to let go of those stories and make way for a new tale to be written – one of more compassion. More love.
In Paulo Coelho’s book, The Zahir, he talks about the idea of abandoning the stories of our past. It’s a pretty radical concept for most of us to rap our heads around. Let go of our personal history? What purpose would that serve? And how on earth do we forget things that are so intertwined with who we are?
Through one of the main characters in the book, Coelho explains that letting go of our personal stories clears the way for the purest form of love to flow in:
“In order for the pure energy of love to penetrate your soul, your soul must be as if you had just been born. Why are people unhappy? Because they want to imprison that energy, which is impossible. Forgetting your personal history means leaving that channel clear, allowing that energy to manifest itself each day in whatever way it chooses, allowing yourself to be guided by it.”
Later he explains that if we want to release the stories of our past, we must tell them. We must write them, speak them, and share them until they no longer have meaning to us – until we feel as if we are telling someone else’s story, rather than our own.
Through this blog, I’ve shared several stories about my introversion. This has allowed me to connect with other introverts on a deep level, which I may not have been able to achieve in person. It has also given me the opportunity to write a new story about myself, and the world I live in.
I’ve been able to release the shame I used to feel about being quiet and different. I’ve shaped a kinder reality that is more loving and accepting of introverts. And it all began with me telling the stories of my introversion.
The story about the time I cried in front of a group of strangers because I didn’t honor my need to be alone.
The story of some drunken jerk yelling at me to talk more because my quietness was weird and he didn’t like it.
The story of being trapped at an endless Mexican fiesta, and criticized for being “boring” and “serious”, as I tried in vain to put on my invisibility cloak.
These were painful pages in my personal history. But as I shared them, their charge was neutralized. I was able to let go of the part of me that felt ashamed of my introversion, as I made way for a more loving view of myself.
What about you? What are some of the stories of your introversion that you’re ready to release? What would you have instead?
Lots of love,
Great post, it’s true that we can become stronger by airing out our experiences and no longer letting them hold us back.
One of my first introversion stories happened at a time when I hadn’t even heard of the term “introvert”. I was in my early twenties, just moved downtown into my first place on my own, and wanted to try having a bit more of a social life. So, I had a New Year’s Eve party with a bunch of friends, and we decided later on to go find a pub down the street to celebrate the stroke of midnight.
I thought this was a great idea, until we arrived at the pub and I discovered that half the city was also out celebrating New Year’s Eve, all apparently inside this one cramped dark pub (should have figured that one out before). After taking 15 minutes to try and find a comfortable space with my friends, I realized that I could no longer take in all of the noise, stimulation and drunk people, so my flight instinct kicked in.
At 12:00am, I stood out on the street by myself and listened to everybody else cheering in the New Year. It was a surreal experience, and for years I tried to figure out what was wrong with me, because at a deep level I actually enjoyed the peace and quiet of standing outside on the street. For the longest time, I wasn’t okay with that because I didn’t understand introversion.
I remember going through the phase of everyone turning 21 and having parties. Having hall full of friends and acquaintances and the shame I felt at not enjoying these events and how exhausted and demoralised I felt afterward.
Thankfully I’ve learnt to let go off the expectation to be something I’m not.
Thanks for sharing, Peter. I’m sure many other innies can relate. For me, prom immediately comes to mind.
Just the other day, we had dinner at my in-laws with most of the family. It was chaotic and loud and there were 16 of us, most of them extroverts, a few with serious boundary issues. A few wanted to come over to watch Doctor Who after dinner, but my introvert husband and I were sapped. He very firmly said no and one of his sisters flippantly said, “Oh right, the introverts can’t handle it.” It’s been bothering me ever since and I keep wishing I’d had a comeback in that moment. I feel like I need to defend my introversion, who I am. Btw, I had already escaped to the deserted backyard before dinner to cope. It was cold, but it was quiet and so worth it.
When I turned 21, I made sure to visit my friends to celebrate with them before my actual birthday so they couldn’t drag me to a bar and make me do shots. My actual birthday was spent with my teetotaler family. 🙂
Hi Paula. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure it brings back lots of memories of similar situations for other innies. It certainly does for me. I would try not to focus too much on the remark. It’s annoying that she said that, but it probably came from a place of her feeling rejected and disappointed. It’s great to hear that you made your escape during dinner, though. 😉
When I was in school we were required to take a group counseling class, I was working on a degree in counseling at the time. I was my typical introvert self every class, stayed to myself and thought about the new episode of One Tree Hill that was coming on that night (I love this show lol), so my mind was not focused on the class or anybody in it. One day when asked a question, I spoke about my weekend and how much fun I had being with my friends and taking in the moment with them, something I haven’t been able to do in a while. One of my classmates decided to comment on how they (her and the class) doesnt know me because I dont speak to them in class and I dont spend time with them outside of class. She pretty much called me out about being quiet and not wanting to engage with her or anybody else.
During that moment I was upset because I dont see the point in wasting my time speaking with people I dont connect with (quality over quantity), and here she was shaming me for it. So, I was honest and told her I dont speak because I dont have anything to say. I wasnt going to force myself to speak just for the sake of speaking (I was also thinking about other stuff, but I kept that part to myself since my professor was big on paying attention in class lol)
The entire experience annoyed me because there is nothing more upsetting than somebody trying to change you when you’re perfectly fine with who you are. It bothered me for a while because she did it in front of the entire classroom, but as I think about it I feel proud of myself. I told her my truth and continued being quiet and thinking about One Tree Hill until the semester ended. I didnt change who I was, even after being called out in front of a group of people. It actually made me embrace being an introvert even more. It made me happy to know that I embraced who I was in that moment, and after the moment passed.
Wow…I’m not really sure why but this blog post made me cry…Maybe because I’d been holding my past pain inside for a really long time. Most people expect black girls/women to act (and speak) a certain way, but my entire life was and still is the complete opposite of those stereotypes. So I guess I don’t really have any stories that I can remember, as far as interacting with people, other than the typical stuff like, “Why are you so quiet?” and “You should speak up more”. However, one of the most painful times in my life related to my introversion was around my second or third year of college. One day after my classes were over, while I’m at the bus stop I just break down crying uncontrollably. I just could not help it. Luckily, no one else was standing around me…I cried that day because of the humiliation from my own blood relatives talking about me behind my back (and sometimes in front of me), my mom always agonizing over my social life/well-being and wanting me to see a therapist, the utter loneliness, all this added to the general stress and strife of daily living. That kind of pain felt 20 times worse than any physical pain I’ve ever felt, and it all came running out of me that day. Yet, somehow I made it through. I kind of like to compare it to our subway system– (I’m from NYC) you have to go through the dark tunnels first before you can get up onto the elevated line and see the sun shining outside. My point here is that once you get to know who you really are inside, once you love yourself by being yourself, you will be able to release the past and begin healing. Thank you for sharing this article 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing that, Angel. I’m sure a lot of introverts can relate to the story you shared and the humiliation that you felt. I’m glad that my article inspired you to tell one of your stories. xo
I have a question. Is it possible to have once been an extrovert and over time found yourself to be more comfortable as an introvert? It seems like I was so much more outgoing as a kid but as I’ve gotten older, people just exhaust me. I’m crap at small talk, avoid parties, and Christmas almost kills me (too much sound, too many lights and decorations, too many people, too much, too much) so no one is happier to see January than me. I know I wasn’t always this way.
Hi Dawn. Great question. From what I’ve read, introversion is a personality trait that is inherent from birth and persists. What changes is our behavior and preferences. I hope that helps. 🙂