What Would You Tell Your Younger Introverted Self?
Dear Gentle and Incredible Readers,
I spent my energy this week speaking to high school students about self-awareness and helping and hanging out with family for the Thanksgiving holiday. My sister, brother-in-law and I moved my mom into an assisted living facility. The week was exhilarating and emotional. I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people and experiences that surround me.
Due to my full schedule, I did not have time to write a meaningful post myself but instead you will be blessed with a thoughtful
post from fellow introvert/highly sensitive writer and champion, Andy Mort. He is a huge believer in personal creativity and personal potential. He is the founder of SheepDressedLikeWolves.com, which is a blog and podcast aimed at encouraging introverted and highly sensitive people to embrace their creativity and push against the expectations of an often overwhelming world. Please check out the Members Haven at SheepDressedLikeWolves.com. There you’ll find great resources and camaraderie for introverts, sensitives and creatives. Andy interviews individuals with valuable insight into living well with our temperament.
Please enjoy his post about what you need to know to better understand, express and accept your introverted nature.
Do you wish you had known about your temperament earlier?
I speak to a lot of people who regret that they only discovered that they are introverted or highly sensitive later on in life. They tell me about the years spent thinking they were different, but have had this perception destroyed thanks to the many enlightening and inspiring authors who have pushed the topic into the mainstream conscious.
How do you feel when you look back at yourself before you knew what you now know about your temperament?
I was thinking about this recently when considering the best way to actually encourage introverted or sensitive children to fully express that part of who they are without judgement or fear.
The process of reflecting on this inspired me to write some thoughts, which in many ways are aimed at a younger version of myself before I knew I was introverted or highly sensitive. There were five big things that I would say if I had the opportunity to travel through time:
1. Everyone is Different
Everyone sits somewhere on a scale between introvert and extrovert. Many are in the middle and may be called ambivert. This indicates your orientation to the world. Those on the introverted end of the scale tend to get their energy from inward sources such as time alone with their thoughts, low-key in-depth conversations, and their creative pursuits. Those who have an extraverted temperament gather energy from stimulating activities, new experiences, and meeting people.
There is no right way of being and it may be hard to understand what it’s like to be introverted if you are extraverted, and vice versa.
Like many introverted people you may get called shy or quiet. You probably don’t like hearing this because it makes you feel self-conscious and confused.
You enjoy sitting and listening to the conversations around you. Sometimes something will come to mind that you feel is valuable to contribute to the conversation and you will look for an opening. Often the topic will move on quickly and you have to bring it back by saying ‘just going back to the previous point’, before adding your often surprisingly well received insights.
Don’t worry that the conversation moves faster than your thoughts. Your ability to stick with and develop ideas will be valuable as you learn to write and pursue creative projects.
2. Be Careful with Your Energy
You really enjoy spending time with people you care about but there always reaches a tipping point in your energy. Treasure your friendships, enjoy yourself, and learn to communicate your need to step away when you need down time away from people. Over time they will understand and accept that this is a part of who you are and that it has nothing to do with them personally.
Introverted people expend energy in social situations.
You are actually responsible for creating your own energy and so it will always be important to keep track of it. If you need to step away and find more, then do it. It will be hard in stimulating environments like school and work, so be on the lookout for unexpected opportunities to ‘introvert’ through the day.
3. Allow People In
You may develop a tendency to forget that people can’t hear your thoughts. Be careful of this.
You process things very deeply and internalize a lot of your emotion. Unfortunately people may not be able to tell what you are thinking or feeling. There will be times when you will need to let go of this for the sake of others.
When you are feeling happy or excited then feel free to express it; likewise when you are feeling sad or angry find ways to show people these emotions externally. You will have to work hard at this because your face won’t always express what your heart and mind are feeling and people may find this uncomfortable/intimidating.
4. You Can’t Do it All
As you embark on your life’s work you may feel tempted to do everything yourself. I completely understand why. But just because you can (or you can learn how) it doesn’t mean you should; I would suggest learning to trust other people and ask for help even when you don’t necessarily feel like you need it.
This will help you grow as a leader and bring you very useful experiences. It may be hard for you to do; I know that you don’t really like to bother people, you struggle to tell the truth when you don’t like something, and you find it hard when you have to rely on others because of the pressure it puts on you both.
That said, there is a balance that you will need to strike because your drive to do things yourself will be very beneficial in a world that is changing. The creative industries are changing. Your desire to find ways to do things yourself that would have needed the permission of gatekeepers in days gone by will be a huge asset.
5. You Know More than You Think
You may feel like an impostor in many situations. When you look at other people around you it appears that they know a lot more than you and that they have experience and knowledge of what to do.
It is important for you to realise that you know a lot more than you think you do. It might take you a while to realise, but just because people are loud and willing to answer questions it doesn’t mean they are more intelligent than you.
Don’t be surprised if people ask for your advice or opinion. People see you differently to the way you see yourself. It may come as a surprise to you, but probably not to those around you.
Your desire to learn more about yourself and about the world is a real strength. You will realise that growth is not about having all the right answers, but rather it’s about asking the right questions.
Always seek to encourage others; NEVER use knowledge as a weapon to discourage or humiliate anyone.
You are no better or worse than anyone else. You are unique and individual. Don’t feel pressured to conform to the extravert ideal, or the introvert label. Be yourself and accept the things that you perceive to be real inside of you. Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to make bold decisions. They will often be proved right even when they seem outrageous at first.
Over to You
What would you tell a younger version of yourself if you had the opportunity?
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing. — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!
I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years. Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space. I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone. — Indepthwoman on space2live
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live