I cringe every time I hear or read an introvert say, “Why can’t I be more outgoing?” “Why can’t I have more fun at parties?” “What’s wrong with me?” And my least favorite: “Why can’t I be more normal?”
The problem with every one of those statements is that they are all based on an incorrect assumption. There’s a great quote by Albert Einstein:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
I used to think there was something wrong with me because I hated parties. I mean, the word “party” just implies fun, right? People laughing, drinking, eating, celebrating, having a good time. Who doesn’t like a party?
But you know what? I don’t like parties. I’ll still go to them, occasionally — and usually only when I have to. But I’ve stopped thinking there’s something wrong me because I don’t like them.
The only reason to think there’s something wrong with you for not liking parties is if you are judging yourself based on a standard of extroversion. Extroverts were born for parties, because they are energized by exactly this kind of conversation and interaction with others.
Because we live in a society where extroversion is considered the “norm,” a lot of introverts think there’s something wrong when they don’t enjoy the same experiences as extroverts do. But you’re judging yourself by a standard that you can never achieve. And that means you could be talking about yourself negatively most of the time.
Just because the world tends to look down on introversion doesn’t mean that you have to judge yourself by those rules. And only by speaking positively about ourselves will we start to change those inaccurate assumptions people have. Don’t even get me started on how depressing it is to constantly put yourself down.
Don’t say: “I hate parties.”
Instead, say: “I prefer one-on-one conversations where I can really focus on the person I’m talking to.”
Don’t say: “I’m shy.” (Unless you are, which is something different from introversion).
Instead, say: “I can get a little uncomfortable in new situations. I just need a bit longer than others to join in.”
Don’t say: “What’s wrong with me?”
Instead, say “Everyone has a different way of interacting with the world. And that’s okay.”
Remember — how you talk about yourself matters.