Introverts are hot right now.
Weird, I know.
But unfortunately, the word “introvert” has become synonymous with “geek.” Being a geek implies that you’re a socially-inept bookworm or tech-head, and at a cocktail party you’re either hyperventilating in the bathroom or boring people with in-depth analyses of the space-time continuum as experienced by Captain Picard versus Doctor Who.
But we introverts know that “geek” is not synonymous with “introvert.”
To be introverted does not mean to be shy, which implies that wallflowery social discomfort or, in extreme cases, social anxiety. Introverts are just more choosy about our social interactions.
When issues arise in our lives, we go inward to address them, while, for example, extroverts seek answers from the outside world. Just because we’re introverted, it doesn’t mean we don’t like people or that we can’t communicate; it just means we are selective about the company we keep. And we also tend to need a lot more down-time to recharge before heading out into the world again.
When I speak to introverted clients, I find that many of them suffer from the pressure to fit in, to be social in some way (and thereby stave off impending agoraphobia). And if we can’t fit in, it’s best to take our toys and go home where we are alone and loved!
Here’s something I find is true among my introverted clients as well as the introvert community at large: It is vital that we listen to our inner voices, our intuition, and that means we may do things a bit differently than many. We need to make our unique self work for us in the outside world.
The real inner work lies in tapping into who you are at soul-level, grasping what your unique gifts and skills are, and discovering how you can actually translate all of that into a life that is vibrant, and that gives back to the world around you! Your challenge (should you care to accept it) is to find the way to shine your light in the way that doesn’t burn that light out.
The Consequences of Not Living Vibrantly
So what happens if we are not sharing our unique gifts and living our vibrant lives? See if any of these common pitfalls resonate with you personally:
This is the main complaint I get from my clients. Somehow they feel stuck in their lives. They know they have gifts to share but they don’t know how to, can’t see themselves living the life they want, which leads to the next pitfall.
This is often what happens when we have a belief that doesn’t jibe with our true nature. Usually this comes about when we, as insightful and introspective human beings, anticipate what is expected of us based on the roles we think we should be playing in life. For example, I used to believe that being a writer meant I had to struggle with money. The result is a thought process that says: A such-and-such type of person behaves in X manner, I don’t, so I don’t fit in. Maybe it’s your perception of being an artist, daughter or son, wife or husband, yoga instructor, scientist—whatever. Even your definition of what a good, strong woman or man might be.
These perceived realities loop over and over in so many situations, so many different roles we play in life, that it burns a neural pathway in the mind that says, “I am an outsider.” And that keeps you from seeing your own path clearly and moving forward along it.
So once you begin to see yourself as an outsider, there’s nowhere you can go except back inside your own head, figuratively, and back into your own house or room or bed or couch, literally. When you begin to feel alienated from the rest of the world, you have truly put yourself in a box. Which doesn’t jive with that deepest self you know when you’re at peace in your solitude.
The result of this, is that you begin to feel restless. Those big dreams that you have, that comfort feeling that you have when you’re alone actually wants to be shared with the world. So you try over and over to find different ways to express these gifts. But because of the other pitfalls, often times you’re stopped in your tracks. And that leads to…
At this point there’s a feeling to simply shut down. Perhaps this is where depression seeps in. The world doesn’t get me, I don’t get the world, so I’m just going to take my gifts and sit on them.
And there is one more pitfall, which is a biggie. Not believing in or creating abundance for yourself in your personal relationships or in your career.
I hope you see the point. If we don’t live as our highest selves, if we don’t share our gifts with the world and remain isolated, it actually hurts us. Moreover, it hurts the rest of the world that is out there waiting for your gifts to be revealed.
The World Needs Introverts
We are the ones who go deep, feel deep, and are not afraid of that depth. We are the scholars of the soul. No one spends as much time in states of introspection as introverts do. We think a lot. But if we stop there, because the world out there makes us too tired to even move—and I do understand that, trust me—we deprive the world of our highest selves, and the well-honed craft we have nurtured. It’s not enough to be quietly brilliant, shining your light in a closet.
You need to change the way you think in order to move forward in your life. You are not going to move forward using the same mindset that you already have. Something needs to shift.
My wish for you, dear introvert, is to make a commitment to yourself to not keep your gifts from the world. They are the most intricate well-thought-out powerful entities ever created! We need them out here in the loud, messy, wild world. As introverts, it is our duty to make sure that we live full and vibrant lives. And have fun doing it.
This is your life, celebrate it!
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: elephant archives