I used to think I was an extrovert. I had a lot of friends at school, in my neighborhood, and later at college. Things changed when I finished college and started working. In the workplace, I still made friends who loved me for who I am, and I was happy interacting with just them. But as my years of experience increased, I was expected to interact with a lot of peers and managers and to give PowerPoint presentations in front of a bunch of people. That’s when I started feeling “the fear”—the fear of facing the world of extroverts. Even today, I very often still hold that fear.

The family I joined after marriage (an arranged marriage) is completely different from the one I had already (my own parents, siblings, cousins, and friends). Time and again, I find it difficult to adjust to the new family. Yes, I said adjust because I try to change myself a lot, losing myself in the process again and again. The new family is just a family of four: me, my husband, and in-laws. But they can talk for hours among themselves. Imagine four people in a room where everybody— except you—TALKS. It is a terrible feeling that only few can empathize with. My husband and I share a wonderful relationship, but others simply don’t understand that I talk to him freely only because I am comfortable with him, that I am an introvert and can talk only to a select few, and that not talking is not a crime/defect/disease and has nothing to do with one’s character.

As a person who has been frequently admired and praised for her patience, empathetic nature, and not having a backbiting character, I feel sick to see people dislike me because I don’t interact easily with them. And in turn, it makes me dislike them. This is NOT ME; this is not what I want to identify myself with. 

I wonder if I can carry a disclaimer with me every time I give presentations or talk with people, saying: “I am an introvert. I can interact only so much, and I am OK with that.” That way, people will understand me, and I will no longer have to have this uncomfortable feeling when I am not talking. Instead, I can concentrate on what I can do in this world to prove myself.

I am feeling great and relieved after sharing this. But I am sure the feelings around my introversion will crop up again. I pray to God not to make me devoid of the introversion but rather to give me the strength and courage to handle it.

Thank you very much to Susan Cain and to Anjali, a Quiet Revolutionary whose own story inspired me to share mine.

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  • Zizi

    Thank you Subha. Your words about being disliked and in turn disliking really resonated with me. I also do not want to self-identify in this way. (your use of caps is really affective) To see your words in print really help. Again, thank you.

  • Shemayil Lail

    I understand completely as my relatives are similar and dislike me for not talking all the time to them, telling jokes, and flatyering them. It is a cultural thing to some extent but surely congeniality and good manners are not judged solely on the basis of one’s ability to talk for hours? I hope not.

    Thank you for sharing your story. While there might not be an easy solution, I have a feeling when a serious matter arises then they will seek you for the qualities you have mentioned about yourself. So don’t despair. We are not all things to all people.

  • fbaudino

    Thank you for this honest and heart-felt statement. I am also an introvert and I know exactly how you feel.

  • Sandra L Hammond

    My understanding of stated characteristic is a preference. It is a quality of each of our personalities. This quality like others has a polarization effect that often can be hidden, avoided or protected. This quality like others is neither good or bad, but allows us to process information differently. This quality like others can be highly and profoundly influenced by many both external and internal factors… again none of this is bad or good. This article speaks heavily of frustration and feeling uncomfortable. I encourage you to engage with your intrinsic value system. Seek awareness and be curious of the uncomfort without trying to change anyone or anything. Insight may be profound. Sometimes we need others to help, but maybe not. Enjoy in the search. You are worth all of it.

    • Zizi

      Your comments are very helpful, engaging with the intrinsic value system and seeking awareness is such great advice and exiting to do. Quieting the judgement and frustration is harder but will hopefully come with deep work on the on the prior two. Thank you.