Learning to love being an introvert

29th October 2015

Learning to love being an introvert

I’m an introvert.

Admitting that I’m an introvert probably comes as no shock to you. A lot of bloggers are. We like to hide behind our internet persona where we can be sociable and confident, but if you met me in real life you’d realised that I’m actually pretty shy and reserved.

I wish I could say I’m 100% happy being an introvert, but I’m not. However, I’m learning that being introverted is completely normal, and it’s actually pretty awesome. I’m learning to love who I am.

I’d say I’m not much of a talker. Tyrone would disagree. I sometimes even talk in my sleep. But honestly, I’m awkward around small talk and I just don’t know what to say to continue the conversation.

I use to think I had poor social skills, but this simply isn’t the case. I much prefer listening to what other people have to say. I’m fascinated by other people, their lives, and their wisdom. So, if we ever have a conversation, I’ll probably let you do most of the talking, and I’ll take on board everything you have to say.

Admittedly, I do suffer with anxiety around new people, but as I go through the many different stages of life I am learning how to handle these situations. I can’t just become an extrovert, but I can take baby steps to feel more confident around new people.

I’m the stereotypical introvert. I’d rather hop into my pyjamas with a hot chocolate and a good film than go out on a Saturday to a night club. I’d rather work alone than with a group of people. I like my own company. I’m quiet.

And none of this is bad.

When I was at school, every single one of my subject reports started with “Holly is a quiet student…” and I was always made to feel like being quiet was a bad thing.

One of the most significant moments of my time at high school was in a science lesson when my teacher asked each table (of 4 to 6 people) to pick of the weakest member of the table.

She thought that identifying the weakest member would some how encourage the other people on the table to help them with their studies.

When my table refused to pick someone, because let’s face it, they weren’t horrible people, my teacher picked herself.

She picked me. Her reasoning?

“You’re quiet.”

So, being quiet makes someone weak, does it?

Well, does a weak person recover from major re-constructive surgery on their hip, and learn to walk again? Does a weak person achieve 11 GCSEs and 3 A Levels? Does a weak person move to a city on their own to start a new life? Does a weak person go to university and achieve a first class honours degree? Does a weak person get an amazing full-time job with great career prospects?

I hardly think being quiet has stopped me from achieving in life. I can tell you now that I’ve gone on to achieve a lot more than most of the people in that science class.

Being quiet does not make you weak. It does not mean you are stupid.

After my teacher called me “weak” I didn’t suddenly transform into an extrovert. I stayed just as quiet as always. I didn’t know it at the time but I was on a mission to prove my point.

And I didn’t realise until very recently that being a quiet introvert is a-okay.

I’ve been reading a book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, and even though I’m only a quarter of the way through it has changed the way I think about who I am as an introvert. Some of the greatest people of all time are introverts.

J.K. Rowling. Bill Gates. Albert Einstein. Mahatma Gandhi. Rosa Parks. Steve Wozniak. All introverts. The list goes on.

None of these people are weak. Or stupid.

Confident and outgoing people seem to be favoured in life, but really it’s the introverts who change the world. You might not even notice us, but we are in the background doing amazing things. Plotting to take over the world, etc.

Now that I understand introverts better I question “Why doesn’t everyone want to be an introvert?!” because, let’s face it, quiet people rock.

So, now when I feel bad for not being more talkative around new people, or turning down the opportunity to have a night out, I’m not going to wish I was more extrovert. I’m going to appreciate what being an introvert has done for me in life.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you happy with who you are?

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  1. I read that book, too. It’s a fantastic book, and it really taught me a lot about introversion and how it’s okay to be an introvert. I used to try and be more “outgoing”, but now I know that I’m a natural introvert, and I’m fine with it. I’m happy to be who I am, and I’m happy being an introvert. You’re right in that I’d much rather be in the background than the centre stage, and I’m okay with it.

    Now, I can’t say I’m quiet when I do start talking, but I have a lot of days when I don’t want to talk or interact with people. Like you, I’d much rather hide in my bed with my Kindle than go to a super loud party. In fact, I’ve zero plans to do anything for Halloween this Saturday. Everyone else is going to party, and I’ll be happy writing up blog posts at a coffee shop or snuggling with my Kindle 😀

    • Oh! I forgot to mention, but I wrote a post about being an introvert, too. I learned back then that a lot of my “flaws” are actually common amongst introverts, and it made me feel better that I wasn’t alone.

      • Holly

        I will definitely take a look at your post. 🙂

        At every stage of my life, whether it be starting college, starting university or starting a new job, I always say to myself “I’m going to be more outgoing” but I naturally just revert to my introverted self.

        I also have no plans for Halloween. I like to stay in and hide away from everyone. I’m just hoping my neighbour doesn’t decided to throw a party!

  2. Amy

    I’ve always been an introvert. Talking to new people is not easy – especially in large groups. I’m not totally happy with it either – it’d be nice to be one of those people that everyone warms to instantly.

    Teachers are the worst. I once had a teacher single me out to tell the class the ddfinition of the word ‘shy’ because I “obviously knew what it meant”. Embarrassing someone doesn’t help anything.

    • Holly

      I have to admit, I do envy those who people who can start and continue a conversation with anyone. I think sometimes I come across as rude when really I don’t know what to say.

      That teacher sounds vile. People like that don’t deserve to be teachers.

  3. Susanne

    I really liked this post. I’ve always been a quiet person, although not as much in recent years, and it is totally true that it’s always pictured as something bad, and especially by teachers. They should know better!!! They should know that the quiet people are often the better and more serious students. I also think I’ve achieved a lot in life… maybe because I had to be strong and stand up for myself to get what I wanted. I moved abroad twice, learned to play instruments and sing in public, got a specialist degree and eventually the job that I wanted.
    I love how all of those powerful people are introverts!

    • Holly

      Thank you! I’m certainly not as quiet as I once was, and I believe that taking jobs in retail helped with that, but I sometimes feels like I have to pretend I’m more confident than I really am.

      I love your story! More evidence of how awesome introverts are!

  4. I find the introvert/extrovert thing fascinating… especially as I seem to feel neatly between the two! My parents always made me feel like being quiet was a bad thing – pushing me into situations I wasn’t comfortable in, and even asking my drama teacher how I could be more outgoing. In contrast to your story, it was my teachers who told me it was ok to be quiet. They pointed out that I wasn’t shy… I was just thoughtful and didn’t need to be talking all the time. I actually love being centre of attention some of the time, and will happily present or lead a group. But I also feel perfectly comfortable to be on my own. I don’t feel either end of the spectrum is necessarily a clear advantage over the other, and having a mixture of both has made me appreciate how valuable everyone is whether they are introverted or extroverted.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    • Holly

      I really wish my teachers could have said something like that to me. I feel like it would have helped with my confident issues, even just a little.

  5. A

    I absolutely love this post! I myself am quite an introvert and was quiet all through school but you’re definitely right saying being quiet does not make you weak! I’ve never heard of the book, I’ll have to look it up and give it a go, sounds very interesting.

    • Holly

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I really do recommend the book. It’s a pretty easy read and it’s fascinating.

  6. Cat

    I’m an introvert too. I’m an introvert in how I take in information and think, though because I’m in a management position, I pretty much have to be communicating with people all the time. It’s actually possible for shy people to be extroverts and for social people to be introverts because it’s based on how you feel energized 🙂 For introverts, it’s being alone. For extroverts, it’s being around people. After being surrounded by people, I like having quiet time alone to recharge!

    I definitely was very shy and quiet when I was young. I went through the same experience where teachers thought that being quiet was a bad thing. I can’t believe you had a teacher ask people to choose the weakest member! The idea itself is pretty dumb, and it’s even worse that she picked you because you’re quiet. They aren’t even related.

    I like being an introvert, and I’m actually surrounded by introverts at work too. It’s kind of interesting because we all took tests and 70% of developers at my company are introverts, while 70% of marketing/sales are extroverts. I guess it kind of fits with what we do 🙂

    • Holly

      She was an awful teacher. Funnily enough, I was one of only a handful of people in that science class who went on to get a science degree, so it shows what she knows. I wish I could meet her and wave my degree in her face.

      I think most developers are introverts, and I think that this is because learning to code is something that is best to alone at your own pace.

  7. Rude… would have had a go at that teacher, LOL. I was always quiet in class and people would always point it out as if it was a bad thing. I have always bee introverted, but the part not many people understand is that introverts can be outgoing. Around my friends and people I am comfortable with, I can be loud and very talkative. But the prime example people give, usually asked as a question, is ‘Do people give you energy or does being alone give you energy?’

    I find people exhausting. I often cannot wait to go home so I can relax and be on my own because people really drain me. I also would rather stay at home 99% of the time there is a party or an event. Being an introvert is not a bad thing and people seem to have really dodgy judgments on introverts being shy and quiet. Not necessarily. And definitely not damn weak! You’re a strong-willed, determined and dedicated person from what I know. And that is nothing to do with being introverted. That’s just who you are, and you just happen to be an introvert. I think people look at it the wrong way around, if you know what I mean. It’s a bit like when people are made to introduce themselves in a few words. They just assume from the few words. (Like the whole thing about me being pescetarian makes people think that I eat whale… something like that quote that it’s not the rule, it’s the exception? Sure you get what I mean haha.)

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