I used to be ashamed of my nature. I used to feel dumbfounded when forced to speak.

The message I’ve heard throughout my life is that I’m too quiet. Throughout my developing years, I was riddled with pain because people believed I was conceited or stupid because of my quiet nature. Thankfully, I listened to my pain and decided to work on developing my voice by choosing a communications major and psychology minor in college. I found a definition to my feelings (introversion) and projections—or lack of—to the world around me (body language).

I realized that silence was interpreted in various ways. It meant acceptance for some, while for others, it meant lack of willingness to engage. Although silence was perceived as a curse at times, it was also a blessing in my life. I was able to obtain an office job at a younger age (relative to my peers) because my introversion was perceived as maturity. I am also rewarded with richness in friendships because staying quiet and actively listening is perceived as love in action.

Later in life, I took the Myers-Briggs test, and I discovered that my personality type (INFJ) is only shared by 3% of the population. The realization that most people will not understand me liberated me of idealization of who I should be or who I should become. I am continually learning and reminding myself to not only accept who I am but also to accept that others don’t sense the world the way I do. Though it seems I have to work a bit harder to simplify and translate my introverted thoughts into extroverted ones, I respect both sides of the coin and seek to continue understanding and extending that understanding to the people I encounter.

Though I am now the president of the public speaking club I belong to and was awarded with a certificate that attempted to label me as “Introvert No More,” I am no longer trying to fix, turn off, or dismiss who I truly am. Instead, I am advocating that communication is not just about hearing the words but also about acknowledging, while not condemning, the reserved.