Why You Must Accept Who You Are
For years I have been driving my friends and family crazy by refusing to conform to their ideas and expectations of what a person living in the 21st century should be like in terms of social outlook and behavior.
I keep my dumb phone in Silent mode most of the time and I’m forever returning missed calls, much to the frustration of the loved ones in my life. To be frank, I have retained it for 2-step verification for my online accounts. I prefer meeting people face to face or conversing via email. There are only a handful of people with whom I can talk comfortably over the phone.
On weekends, I prefer to stay at home more often than not, especially refusing invitations to movies, malls, and other crowded places where I might have to make endless small talk in the name of being social. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy these settings occasionally or that I haven’t found a few treasured souls in such environments. But, for the most part I avoid these “lively” hubs like the plague, and prefer long conversations, close-knit groups, and calm environments.
Of late, I have also given up most of my social media accounts, inviting eye rolls and puzzled looks from those socially overenthusiastic Energizer bunnies around me.
Shy? Antisocial? I Don’t Think So
I have defended all my reticent qualities—sometimes quietly, sometimes vocally—to my friends and family, who don’t see them as personality traits, but as personality flaws that they perceive as their responsibility to cajole and threaten me into fixing.
I have been going my own way all these years and am comfortable having all these traits as part of my being. Despite that, I have not been able to get rid of that know-it-all voice in my head that says I’m missing out on life by choosing to live it quietly and reflectively, instead of visibly and actively like we, as a society, have been taught to believe we must live.
This voice refuses to be listen to the arguments put forth by the other voice in my head - the voice that knows what exactly I need to be healthy, content, and the best version of myself. This second voice often asks questions on behalf of me:
How can quietness and seriousness be wrong when they happen to be as inherent as exuberance and humor?
Why should it mean that I’m not having fun if I’m not enjoying myself based on someone else’s idea of fun?
What is wrong with expressing myself in a slow and calm manner?
What is wrong with craving solitude or preferring to work alone than in groups?
As I mentioned before, this voice that speaks out in favor of my innate characteristics has always been shouted down by the loudmouth that is all for revamping my so-called antisocial (less social?) personality.
But finally, finally, that thoughtless and dissenting voice is being effectively shut up by the quiet one of Susan Cain, whose words in Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking are what I’m hanging on to right now. After reading just 49 pages of the 268-page book, I’m convinced that at long last, I’m on the verge of accepting my introversion in a proud, wholehearted, and quietly assured manner, not in the belligerent, frustrated, and sometimes resigned way I have been doing all these years.
After reading this book and other content on introversion, it seems that introverts are more naturally inclined to live slow and focused lives than their extroverted counterparts. As an introvert, I also have this inclination. But by trying to forcefully absorb and reflect certain “bold and outgoing” qualities in a subconscious attempt to live up to what Cain calls our society’s extrovert ideal, I have moved away from what comes effortlessly to me, and upset the balance of my life in the process.
On The Right Track
My life was already an Undustrial Revolution without my knowledge. It would have continued to remain so if I had just let it be instead of manhandling it to behave in a manner that matched the perceptions and fulfilled the expectations of an involuntarily and sometimes obnoxiously “alpha” section of society.
One thing is clear: trying to mold your life based on what you want to want instead of what you need is a recipe for disaster. Following life intuitively, even when you risk ruffling a few feathers, seems to take you right where you need to go. And when you reach there, you realize that it is also exactly where you wanted to go.
Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, ambivert, thinker, doer, nurturer, go-getter, or any of the other hybrid personalities in between, knowing, understanding, and accepting yourself for the potential and promise you hold is the right fuel for your life and the right balm for your soul.
- January 31st, 2014