Becoming a Better Introvert

Young beautiful student girl behind booksNot all introverts are created equal. Some are willing to speak up, to share their thoughts and feelings, and go out of their way to make new friends. Some are more reserved. They keep their thoughts and feelings behind closed doors most of the time, and when they do let them out, it’s usually in small amounts. More often than not, friendship is accidental or the result of circumstances, not something that’s pursued.

I fall into that reserved category, and like most things in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages. I don’t feel the need to fill the silence. I’m okay with being alone for hours without speaking. The down side is that I don’t always speak up when I should. I don’t always voice ideas that could benefit myself and others, and with only my internal monologue for advice, it’s easy to talk myself out of trying new things. I know I’ve missed out on some good experiences because of it.

But being an introvert also makes me a better writer. I’m an observer, a thinker. I’m content to sit in the background and watch the world around me. I see things that others miss. Written words feel safer than spoken ones, so I love and value words and lavish attention on them. I’m willing to spend the time searching for the perfect words that will express the thoughts I do choose to share.

I’m thankful for the extroverts who’ve patiently waited for me to open the doors I like to keep closed, who’ve become my accidental friends. I appreciate the way they encourage me to open the doors a little wider, a little more often. They’re willing to gently knock on the door, but they’re not offended when I don’t want to open up.

My goal in life isn’t to become an extrovert. It’s to become the best version of my introverted self that I can be, but I’ve realized I’m going to need help from an extrovert or two to reach my goal. Fortunately, I have an extrovert friend who’s also a writer. Mindy is always willing to try new things and drag me along invite me to go along with her. It was Mindy’s idea for us to blog on the same day, one of us from the extrovert’s perspective and one from the introvert’s, and we plan to do more of these two-sided posts in the future—our Inside Out posts—because the world needs both kinds of people.

The cool thing is that even though we’re two very different people Mindy and I still have a lot in common. We “get” each other because we’re both writers. And I like to think that we make each other better writers because of our differences.

For the extrovert’s perspective, be sure to stop by Mindy’s blog In the Write Moment.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? How has it helped you? How has it held you back?

Because the world needs both kinds of people.
Because the world needs both kinds of people.

©2014 Kim Vandel

16 thoughts on “Becoming a Better Introvert

  1. As an introvert, I am always struggling to push myself into social situations, speak up, even leave the house. Why? Because if I didn’t, I seriously would hang out with me all the time! I wonder if extroverts ever have to “force” themselves to be alone, to think, to find quiet time. Is it as equally difficult?

  2. Gina, even before I read Kim’s line, “I’ll have to get the official answer from Mindy” I was opening my mouth to formulate an answer. 🙂 Great question, it was fun thinking through my answer. I love my alone times, because it means I’m writing or reading. But, because I am involved in the lives of so many people, (6 kids, 4 grandkids, church, writers group) it is hard to make alone time. Saying YES to alone time means saying NO to people. That’s where my forcing comes, learning to say NO to things that I could do, but don’t need to do. Thanks again for stopping by, Gina!

  3. Kim is a perfect me. Our society seems to utilize labels for a broad spectrum of our world. This seems to serve our self analysis on our perceived demographics. How you feel and how people perceive you seems to be the question of how we act “normal” or “abnormal”. I’ve seen people who are the hub on the spokes of those “personality” questionnaires. Kim, you are quiet and reserved but you are perfect. Mindy, you are high energy and speak out but you are perfect. (I will clarify my view by stating I know Kim as a friend but have never met Mindy. So I apologize to Mindy if I “mislabeled” you.) I like to observe the plethora of human nature. Now, that’s life.

    1. Hi, Mary! Even though you haven’t met Mindy, I think you’ve figured it out. It’s part of the reason she and I get along so well. Our strengths and weaknesses balance each other out. I’m so glad you stopped by today!

    2. Mary, you did label me correctly as “high energy.” Yea, especially after a cup of coffee and some great conversation where ideas are flaring and worlds are being conquered. No apology needed, friend. Yes, all those labels are interesting, aren’t they? We’ve realized in our introvert/extrovert discussion that you can’t even really divide people neatly into these two categories. So, our goal is unifying, respect and understand one another for mutual blessing. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  4. I’m an introvert. Too many words said out loud can really overwhelm me. It holds me back though b/c I struggle to make sense when I do have to talk or facilitate a meeting. My thoughts: why can everyone just communicate by e-mail? 🙂

  5. From one introvert to another, I appreciate that you’re not trying to change into an extrovert in order to be “right”. I think you’re awesome just as you are. We should get together sometime, and just be silent observers together.

  6. Loved this, Kim. From both perspectives. About to spend a few days with my very introverted BFF who I haven’t seen in some time, and I’m already reminding myself to work on my listening b.c. I know I have the gift of gab. Don’t see the value of silence unless you’re watching a movie, sleeping, or writing or you’re by yourself. 🙂 I totally get the Extroverted brain, and I agree… I still get nervous in crowds too even though I come across as confident. I think I’ll have my hubby read it too, so he won’t think I’m the only one. Thanks so much Kim and Mindy for posting this fun and insightful opposites blog. 🙂

    hugs,
    Raj

    1. So glad you stopped by, Raj! Sometimes it feels like the writing world is overpopulated with introverts, so it’s great to get another extrovert perspective. Maybe Mindy won’t feel so outnumbered. 🙂

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