My school and university life were fairly unsettled periods, where I struggled to fully understand who I was. Though, at school at least, I did tend to gravitate towards those of a milder temperament (like myself), I would still resent the fact that I didn’t fit the ‘cool-and-popular-and-outgoing’ bill.
When I got to university, personalities and lifestyles were seemingly amplified by the freedom that we all had, away from home. Though “off the rails” might be pushing it a little bit, I was constantly forcing myself to go out too often, and drink too much. I wish now that I had better understood myself, and perhaps surrounded myself with more of my crowd/tribe that I now identify with clearly. Looking at university, and also more so at my school days, I can think of several in my year group who I now wish I’d spent more time with and gotten to know better; perhaps hanging out with them may have brought my own personality and self-awareness to the fore, as I reckon I would have more readily, and more often, been ‘myself’ around these people. Or perhaps the version of myself which I think is the most true, and that to me is the most identifiable and the one that I am happiest with. The benefit of hindsight, indeed.
The eventual self-diagnosis of my introversion only took place more recently in my mid-twenties. This realisation was extremely powerful to me — not only in the sense that I had been given tangible reasoning as to why I was the way I was, but also knowing that there were a multitude of others out there, just like me. I also realised that, just like me, it had taken many introverts a while to figure out that that’s what they were, introverts; reading stories on forums and communities online — safe havens for us introverts to hang out on — I often read about individuals discovering their introversion in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and well beyond their 60s. These are individuals who were stumbling along in life, like I was, not really understanding themselves.
Again, looking back to my school days, I now have a fair idea of who the other introverts were. It all seems to make so much sense now. I ‘knew’ some of them, but I didn’t spend time with enough of them. Again, a quieter and milder-mannered bunch who tended not to shout so much from the roof-tops; this is the thing — in the increasingly extroverted and noisy society* that we live in, if we’re not careful, us introverts will become and feel even more drowned out.
*By this, I don’t mean that the voices of the extroverted world are getting louder, but I believe that social media — especially Twitter and Facebook — have provided other avenues for self-expression and this other media for extroverted, and of course introverted, self-expression. As self-expression quite often manifests itself in more noticeable ways with extroverts, us introverts must make sure that our voices are not left behind, that our social media footprints are just as firm! On a positive note, social media is arguably a channel that favours introverts and our self-expression, given that many of us feel more comfortable writing, and the associated time it gives us to reflect in our solitude and form our thoughts before putting them out into the world.
Communities such as Quiet Revolution will play a crucial role in bringing us all together, giving us collective inner-awareness, confidence and strength, and making our quiet, yet powerful, voices heard.
If you haven’t already, check out the Quiet Revolution website – also on Twitter (@livequiet) and Facebook. Not only can you read countless stories from introverts all around the world and from different walks of life, but you can also contribute your own stories, and engage with the introvert community via the ‘comments’.
Join your fellow introverts worldwide and prepare to be inspired.