I’ve always considered myself an introvert and shy. Most people think an introvert is a shy person, but I think shyness has little to do with being an introvert. When I’m shy, I get nervous and anxious and avoid the situations that make me feel like that. You probably won’t see me at a conference talk or any kind of public speaking, I avoid them as much as possible.

I’m a naturally quiet and private person and many times prefer to spend time alone (and yes I talk to myself – it’s a sign of intelligence!), which I suppose makes me an introvert. I enjoy my own company and usually get absorbed in doing something alone. I can get overwhelmed by crowds but I’m generally good around people, I can start a conversation with complete strangers and always make an effort to help others and take an interest in their lives – certainly better than some extroverts.  I don’t need the constant attention from others, I tend to get bored with other people’s company (usually if I’ve nothing in common).  I don’t have a problem asking for help or advice.

Of course being an introvert has its downsides. It’s usually tough to build and maintain relationships. I have to make more of an effort into connecting with people and can fall out of touch very quickly. It takes some time to get to know others and get interested in them. Introverts value fewer friends, but they tend to be very close with them, and last longer. A number of times I have been told I seem too reserved (tends to be from people who don’t know me well).

There’s a pattern, usually from people who don’t make an effort to understand or simply get to know you, to try to change you. If we don’t do what they are doing, we are loners, we are shy (maybe for some!), or we are not having fun and we must do what everyone else is doing. I think the key is communication and many times I have to push myself past my comfort zones and make a bigger effort to connect and communicate and usually works. That’s who I am, I’m not hiding it and for now I am comfortable with that. I am not going to change my personality because some extrovert thinks I should.

I have also discovered that my alone time has given me a better understanding of myself and what I want in my life. It has given me more confidence and has made me more sociable, because I consciously put in the effort to talk to people. In addition I learnt that I listen better and notice things that others miss.

“Always be the first-rate version of yourself, instead of the second-rate version of someone else.”
– Judy Garland