“Speak up. You are too quiet. Don’t be so shy.” My class teacher told me.
And in the last day of schooling, the remark of my report card was more or less like that: “There are rooms for improvement. She should be more sociable.”
These comments have uncomfortably plagued me during my entire primary and secondary school life. If you knew me few years ago in class, you would probably realize I was the reticent one who shut her mouth and keep herself to herself. In the past, I was so on edge, as if butterflies in my stomach, in any form of public gathering. When I drummed up courage to speak for a while, it triggered great response when my schoolmates exclaimed in surprise that I finally said something. While amidst the interactions with large groups of new acquaintances, my anxiousness kept overwhelming me, which in turn, my tongue-tied words were mixed up as if something went wrong. To escape these embarrassing scenarios, how much I would like to immediately crawl back into my protective shell to seek self-comfort. Throughout those years, I have been struggling to search for my own inner voice, and to have faith to express myself well. How weird people must have thought of me. Being an introvert only makes me feel like shouldering bulky burden.
“The introvert is pressured daily, almost from the moment of awakening, to respond and conform to the outer world.” ― Marti Olsen Laney, the Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World
Since childhood, I have been encouraged to overcome my bashfulness, to take part in multifarious social activities, and to extend own interpersonal circles. In this extrovert-oriented world, the most popular social kings/queens are usually the outgoing ones with wry sense of humour. Whereas, being quiet or craving solitude is stereotyped as being socially incompetent, lethargic and even alienated as an antisocial nerd. To get rid of those negative connotations of meekness, in these recent years, I try hard to be lively by hanging out with talkative friends, fancying and laughing like a clown as they do. Only by not pretending a sensitively shy person would I not be condemned into loneliness. Only by opening the conversation with them would I fit in the circles and not be thrown into the abyss of oblivion. Yet no matter how I pretend to be an extrovert, it just drains me while guessing what the others thought and not being myself. It leaves me feeling odd of not behaving naturally, and leaves me no rooms for recharging my batteries in tranquility. Lying on my bed at night with exhaustion, I am not happy as expected, but experiencing much emptiness.
“Oh yes, I’m the great pretender/ Pretending that I’m doing well/ My need is such I pretend too much/ I’m lonely but no one can tell
Oh yes, I’m the great pretender/ Just laughing and gay like a clown/ I seem to be what I’m not you see” ― The Platters, the Great Pretender
That was exactly the moment when I discovered how meaningless to please the whims of people around me. It is high time to accept who I am and appreciate the subtle beauty of every part of myself, including my quietness, seriousness and introspective nature. Instead of throwing fancy parties, it is admittedly more delightful for me to rejoice one-on-one yet in-depth conversations. Though I might not be good at telling hilarious jokes or debating with flowery words, this personality of introversion does enable me to be a good voice listener, keep one’s promises and lend my sympathetic ears to my friends in face of dilemmas. Despite not being quick-witted, I often think twice and look before I leap. Self-acceptance makes being in solitary more pleasurable when embracing self-companionship, achieving inner peace, actualizing own talents and discovering new pastimes. Without such consistent focus in wake of external stimuli and surrounding distractions, I would not have devoted myself into thorough years of reading, running, playing the piano and blogging. After all, treasure the merits of your personality, but not awkwardly erasing them, is the golden gateway for personal enhancements in this inescapably fast-changing environment. ♦
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson