By Collin Shamley
I overthink a lot. My mind will drift until I completely forget what is happening in the present. I struggle to talk about myself because I don’t know what details are important and which are meaningless to the person I am conversing with.
I’m not afraid to admit I care what people think about me, whether they know me or not. I worry so much about making a good first impression of myself to new people that I seldom make an impression at all.
I sometimes like that only a few people know a lot about me. Then, I’ll come to the realization that this mindset has prevented me from having potentially great friendships.
If you’re still reading, you can probably tell I’m an introvert. I used to hate this aspect of my personality until my aunt gave me a book titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Taking by Susan Cain.
I received this book for my birthday before I went off to college. It could not have been a better time. Little did I know this would be one of the most impactful things I’ve read in my life.
Like me, Cain is an introvert. For me, the problem with being an introvert is that it is often difficult to find others to relate to. I am thankful that Cain shared so much of her personal life because her stories feeling most alive when she was alone resonated with me. It was because of her I didn’t feel so weird for carrying books wherever I went for the majority of elementary and middle school.
One of the first things I learned from the book was the difference between introversion and shyness. Shyness is the fear of social judgment while introversion deals with how you react to certain stimuli. Introverts are most comfortable and alive when they are in quieter environments.
A real example of me being shy: avoiding a friend I see at the grocery store I haven’t seen in months because I don’t want to make the conversation awkward.
An example of me being introverted: leaving a career fair hours early because I spoke to twelve different companies and I’m exhausted.
I am growing out of my shyness but I will always be an introvert.
Some of the most creative, innovative, and talented people are introverts. The problem is the world may never know.
Another problem is that society tries to mold introverts into extroverts. School systems enforce collaboration with group projects and work offices are set with cubicles in open spaces, forcing people to interact with others in the building.
There is nothing wrong with teamwork but introverts tend to be most productive when they work alone. We have is that we often try to portray ourselves as extroverts. I feel the need to adapt to a world in which extroverts naturally thrive better.
Therefore, I tell myself I have to be outgoing. I have to network with people I otherwise wouldn’t speak to. I join campus organizations because I feel the need to not because I want to.
I value extroverts just as much as introverts because they are the ones who pull us out of our comfort zones. Without the friends I’ve met in college, I probably would still be the same recluse I was in high school. I am thankful that they bring certain character traits out of me.
I am thankful for my aunt for giving a book that allowed me to see myself from a different perspective. I am thankful for my parents for their unconditional love. Mostly, I am thankful for God and the way He made me.
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So proud of you Collin!