Being An Introvert Has Hurt My Life

Being An Introvert Has Hurt My Life

It’s hard to admit sometimes. But if I’m being honest, being an introvert has hurt my life.

But wait! I’m working on it. And I’m not letting the fact that I’m an introvert make me feel like a failure any more.

Yes, it is ok to be an introvert. We are all different, and you should NEVER try to be someone you’re not.

But that’s the balancing act we play in life. We have to figure out how to be who we are, but also survive, and thrive in this life.

That’s been my problem. Ever since I was in high school I’ve always thought I could get away from who I was. It seemed like none of my friends were introverts. There must be something wrong with me.

So I tried to pretend I wasn’t one.

This past year I just turned 40. I’ve got a wife and two kids.

And I’m just now realizing I’ve been doing it all wrong.

I’ve never been comfortable in my own skin. Every job I’ve had has been excruciating. Friendships are hard to maintain, and it’s especially hard to gain new friends.

But people around me just don’t get it. And that’s what’s frustrating.

Sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself to everyone.

One thing I’ve noticed about being virtually the only introvert in my life, is that people who AREN’T introverts have no idea what it’s like living as one.

They can’t comprehend the challenges we face that they’ve never had to deal with.

And some of them think we’re “wrong” just because our reactions to the world and our environment are different than theirs.

Well, this is how I grew up. Just assuming my feelings were wrong.

So I tried to fake it.

Being An Introvert Has Hurt Me Professionally

I decided to major in Communications/Journalism in college, of all things (what an idiot).

The coursework was torture. The internship was brutal.

But there I was. Getting my degree in something I hated because it was “good for me” to get out of my shell.

Welp.

Of course I didn’t find a job in the field.

Having inevitably striking out in the field, I spent a good amount of time after college working in sales, in one form or another.

Sales!

Yes, the introvert’s dream career. Sales.

You can imagine how successful that was for me.

But I plodded along for over a decade, just doing enough to survive and hate myself after every work day.

I’ve always had a passion in writing. But I was always told (by the extroverts in my life) that there is no money in writing.

They make you feel like it doesn’t matter what you “like” to do, or what you’re good at; you just have to make money to provide any value.

So I wasted years doing things I hated professionally, that just absolutely drained me by the time I got to spend time with my family each day.

Therefore, when I say that being an introvert has hurt my life, I mean that in more ways than one.

Being An Introvert Has Hurt My Relationships

I’m not the kind of guy who makes friends easily. In fact, it’s a challenge for me to maintain friends I’ve already made.

As I sit here typing this out, I can’t stop thinking about a “team building event” my office is having tonight. And how much I do not want to go.

I’m racking my brain thinking of possible excuses. I live in the northeast (spoiler alert, Buffalo, NY), and we’re supposed to be getting a lot of snow and high winds tonight.

I’m actively rooting for a weather event to take out my “team building event”!

Ok, I’m not rooting for it to “take it out”, but I’m hoping we have some weather that I can use as an excuse to not go.

What am I supposed to do at this event. Talk to people?

No thanks.

And these are people who work with me. People, by no choice of their (or my) own, are just in my life.

It’s tough enough encountering someone in the break room or walking in the doorway at the same time.

Don’t get me started on “actual friends.” I can’t remember the last time I reached out to a friend of mine on my own volition.

My mind would always ask “Do they even want to talk to me? If they did, they’d reach out to me, right? Well, I don’t want to bother them.”

Yeah, you can imagine how that’s worked out.

So gradually, over the years, I’ve lost touch with all of my close friends.

And that’s something that’s just dawning on me recently.

I miss having friends, or at least my close inner circle. I’ve been to the point where I’ve felt like it’s too late to reach back out.

The only friends I hang out with are my wife’s friends. Which is a struggle in and of itself, and I touched on in this earlier post.

(“What if they don’t like me? What if they’re only hanging out with me because my wife told them to be nice to me?”)

Brutal.

How I’m Deciding To Live Life Differently Now

Look, I’m done being a prisoner in my own life.

Even though I can admit that yes, being an introvert has hurt my life, I’m choosing to not let it continue to do so.

But how?

The bottom line is I don’t exactly know yet. But it’s time to change my mindset.

I, by no means, have changed my life overnight. I’m very much a work in progress.

But I’m doing more reading recently. I just ordered this book, and I think it will be a good first step, at least in the workplace.

Also, just FYI, if you haven’t checked it out yet, I’ve listed a few other books l like under the Good Reads tab on my site.

Instead of running away from my introverted personality and constantly feeling shame, it’s time to embrace who I am.

I did finally get out of sales, and I now have an office job where my success doesn’t rely on me changing my personality.

My wife and I have been hanging out with her friends more recently, which when I take it step by step and get to know people gradually, it can be quite enjoyable.

In fact, I’ve discovered that one of her friends husbands is also a big bourbon fan, which I am a well. So we bonded over that.

Maybe in the future I’ll start a bourbon blog. Any fellow bourbon drinkers out there? Want to be my friend, haha.

Further, I’m setting boundaries with the people in my life. I’m letting certain people know that I am not like them, and I have different needs.

This takes away a lot of the anxiety in having to deal with things my brain and personality just are not equipped to deal with.

Lastly, I’m making sure that the people closest to me “get” me.

If there are people in your life that don’t accept that introverts are people, and introversion is not an illness that needs to be cured, then perhaps those people shouldn’t be in your life.

If you’re an introvert, you need to remember this: You don’t need to change or “man up.”

To succeed as an introvert starts with accepting who you are and what your STRENGTHS are. Not measuring what other people think your strengths should be.

Someone (who is not Albert Einstein, often misquoted as such) once said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will life all it’s life believing it is stupid.”

Being an introvert has hurt my life. But that stops now.

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