When I tell people who know me now that I am an introvert, I get some funny looks. If I pause to think of it, even I am amazed at the transformation I have gone through over the years. And while I may be more talkative and engaged with people now, I still consider myself an introvert. Being alone is my normal. It is how I recharge. Spending time with my husband is the exception to this.
I am grateful to be an introvert. All the years that I spent cautiously watching the world around me was worth it, even though I remember feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. In a lot of ways, I think introverts have potential to change the world in powerful ways. I feel that we are often more compassionate because of how we internalize things – it strengthens our ability to empathize with others. Unfortunately, I think I lot of us get distracted by a world that may make us feel that something must be wrong with us if we don’t fit in.
I will likely return to this topic multiple times because it deserves delving into deeper and my journey may be useful to someone else. One of the biggest breakthroughs I had was in the Landmark Forum where I uncovered the question that was operating in the background of my life: What is wrong with me?
It seems obvious now. That question was a filter over everything that happened in my life and I was always trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Uncovering it was powerful because once I realized the question was distorting my view of things, I could catch it when it popped into my mind and not let it run the show. I could give the power back to my consciousness and not let the psychological auto-program run amok.
Of course, I didn’t have that knowledge when I was a teenager. My journals from that time are painful to read as I can see how much I was struggling with feeling out of place in the world. I had a natural distrust of people, even friends, because I saw how they talked about each other and treated each other. I wrote in my journals and didn’t share much with anyone.
When I was in the ninth grade, I was sent to the guidance counselor’s office. It turns out that one of my teachers was concerned because I was very quiet in class. She thought that maybe something bad was going on in my home life. I can appreciate that the teacher cared and that if something had been going on, it may have helped me in some way, however, that was not the case so it was just awkward. After the one visit, I didn’t have to go back. Guess I was normal enough.
My quietness back then didn’t come from anything that anyone was doing to me. I was mainly afraid to interact with the world too deeply. Afraid that it would hurt me as I had seen it do to others.
My view of the world has changed drastically since that time. Something within me always knew that I was meant to do more and so I have kept pushing myself. I have a vision of who I am. I enjoy people and their stories. I look for and find the good in so many things. I am grateful and excited to be alive.
My hope is that everyone can find this place within themselves.
Note from Sheila Lee Brown: I feel that the best way people connect and learn are through each other’s stories. I share what I share because this is part of my story and I hope it contains some usefulness for others. I would love to see your comments on this topic – your successes or failures – so that I can learn from you as well.