My introverted nature has been part of my identity for as long as I can remember. At age 24, I am very comfortable in my solitude. I am an avid reader, very thoughtful, and highly reflective. I also love to socialize with my close friends, meet new people, and try new things.
At age 16, however, I started losing my hair. Hair loss, just like any other physical feature we don’t like, greatly affects body confidence. Unfortunately, your hair can’t be hidden under clothes all day. My hair loss became more obvious during my last two years of school. Due to this, my introverted nature became more pronounced and negatively-focused. My time in solitude became less about enjoying my own company and more about being painfully self-conscious about the way I looked and wanting to hide away.
As all introverts know, we see, hear, and notice other people’s behavior slightly more acutely than others do. At school, any sideways glance at my head or any mention of the word hair around me would put me on edge and paralyze me with self-conscious thoughts and inner turmoil. All this coincided with the fact that I went to an all-boys school and it was only in my final two years that girls were introduced to our year group. It was the perfect storm of teenage angst and losing confidence in my body image. Sound familiar?
I often found myself wearing hats, and it made me feel like a different person. Wearing a hat could be compared to putting a glass over a buzzing wasp. The constant internal noise my mind was making was hard to manage, and having that physical barrier over my head was a blessed relief to me.
Why did this have to happen to me? At the time I saw my introversion as a negative trait, as many people from the Quiet Revolution have also revealed. This, coupled with my hair loss, crushed my confidence.
Over the past seven years, I’ve had many ups and downs. Going to university was a help because I wasn’t the only one among 400 schoolkids losing my hair—there were other men going through the same thing. My dad went through hair loss very young as well and helped to frame it in a different way. He also said something that has helped me come to terms with my introversion as well:
“You can’t do anything about hair loss (or introversion!), but it will make you strong. Most people don’t have to go through this, but you have. You’ll come out of it mentally tougher and more resilient. When you’re older, you’ll think it was the best thing that ever happened to you.”
He couldn’t have been more right.
My introverted and quiet nature was intensified by my hair loss. But that quiet strength allowed me to feel comfortable in myself and the way I look and gave me the confidence to project the person I really am and not feel ashamed of it.
Body image anxiety can be closely linked with introverted personality traits: shunning attention, showing reserve, etc. But the damaging side effects of body image anxiety should not be felt by us introverts. For me, these two things came together in a vulnerable time of my life, and I saw them as something to hate about myself and something I couldn’t control.
But now, I see my introverted personality as a source of strength and a point of difference. And I see my hair loss as a physical battle scar that shows that I went through a hard time, but am all the better for it.
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