I’ve been being really hard on myself lately. I’m a perfectionist at heart and I hate it most of the time because if I’m not perfect, I beat myself up over it. I’m really good at saying one thing and doing another. I can tell everyone that being confident is beautiful and loving yourself is key; I also say that you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to fit the mold; and yet I have a habit of ignoring my own words. Of course, at the realization I could begin to beat myself up over it. So I get trapped in this tornado of trying to please everyone and also please my perfectionist self.
Well, to say I’ve been under some stress would be an understatement. I am beyond blessed to be cured of my ITP. That was an incredible, supernatural healing. But my immune system is still acting up. My blood platelets have been perfect, but now my joints have been hurting to the point where I can barely walk; also I’ve been feeling sick and I’ve had a nonstop cold for going on 3-4 weeks. This on top of friend issues, ministry issues, school issues, church issues, and just plain Faith issues….it’s a lot to bear. But today I want to talk about one area that has really been getting to me lately. That area is shyness.
See, I am an introvert. 100%. I am shy and quiet and I stutter and my sentences turn out something like “How do I English?” I mean, I took the “Are You Actually An Introvert?” quiz on Buzzfeed and I got 80/83. Sure on the Internet I seem coolish and I can actually type in complete sentences and sometimes I even make sense! I write; it’s what I do. People make me nervous. But when I write, everything comes out so much better. My hands know how to speak; my mouth does not. Another thing that complicates my introvert-ness is my love for public speaking. It’s one of my biggest fears; yet when I think about the future, I see myself doing a heck load of it. I love it! I desire to go up on stage in front of mass amounts of people and speak on whatever. It’s like I want to be terrified out of my mind. I’m also going to Warped Tour this summer. Guys, I can hardly walk through my little 200 person church without cringing. I’m actually crazy.
I’ve always said I was a contradiction. I make no sense; not to myself, and not to anybody. I love people, and I hate them; I love speaking and helping others, yet it terrifies me. I can be hecka loud and annoying or not say a word. I’ve run around a mall with some friends and acted like an idiot, but later that week I almost ran out of a room hyperventilating because I hated crowds so much. For most of my life I’ve been wishing I wasn’t so strange; but its really been getting to me these past few months. I’ve been telling myself I needed to be more outgoing, more talkative, more confident. I had such great intentions too! I wanted to be more talkative so I could encourage my bible study group to speak up more; I also wanted to make new friends and stop drifting from older ones. It was a good thing. But then it started to get bad.
I started to beat myself up when I had an awkward moment or missed an opportunity to speak. People have always given me a hard time about not talking, and I began to bend to their will. It became less about me trying to be brave and more about me trying to please others. I wanted them to be proud of me; I wanted their approval. But I should have known I would never get it. I would always be too quiet for them; too this or too that. On Sunday I was in a car with a few people and they started giving me a hard time. I was with a friend and they started to ask her questions. She’s shy too, but she answered them, whereas I usually stayed quiet when asked about things. Then they said something that almost made me cry. “I like her. She actually talks.” It was meant as a joke, but you know what that implied? That implied that they didn’t like me because I’m shy, that my friend was better than me for answering their questions, that they would like me too…if I only spoke more. It hurt me. A lot. The rest of the day I had to deal with people giving me a hard time; and I noticed that the more crap I got, the more I drew away. I am more likely to talk when someone accepts me as I am.
That was the day it really hit me; I don’t need to speak to any of you. Since when was being introverted the worse thing you could be? Since when was silence wrong? I have found that a lot of people are uncomfortable with silence. It’s unnerving. So naturally, quiet people provoke them. I have come to terms with silence; I have learned to be ok with it; not only to be ok with it, but to delight in it. It’s calming and peaceful. Real friendship is when two people can sit in the same room and not say a word….and be totally ok with it. I’ve had long embraces with my best friend without words ever being spoken; we’ve sat in a room and said nothing and still it was beneficial. Silence is golden.
Not only did I learn that, but I learned that I don’t owe anything to anyone. I don’t owe it to someone to speak. I don’t need to say anything or apologize for my shyness. I’m shy; it’s who I am. I know that for me, I worry about a guy liking me. I worry that he won’t like me because I don’t talk enough. I think it was my best friend who said that I am just as outgoing as my future husband needs. I am a perfect match for the guy God has for me. To think that He has someone for me who will accept me, shyness and all, is a great comfort. Sure I’m quiet but I like that about myself. I don’t need to talk more, because I am perfect for the plans God has for me. I have just enough courage to do the tasks He has for me. If I need more, He’ll supply more. But He won’t call me to do something I am unable to.
The thing about me, is that I talk when I have something I need to say. I don’t talk a lot because 1.) I don’t want to say something stupid, and 2.) I don’t want to speak random babble because God forbid my silence make someone feel awkward. I use my words intentionally. I have a filter, that’s why I don’t talk much. Because I think about the things I say before I let them come out of my mouth. I think quite a few people could benefit from a filter.
So here’s what I want you guys to know about me and about introverts in a general.
Some people are scared by crowds or don’t like talking, and that’s ok! I actually love talking, but if you push me to speak, I will shut up right away because I hate it when people force me to do things. Please be patient with the introverted people in your lives! Don’t stop talking to them, don’t act differently around them, and just accept them. Please don’t give them a hard time; they’re more likely to open up if you don’t push them.
And if you’re a fellow introvert, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t try to force yourself to be an extrovert. You’re amazing and beautiful just as you are; God made you exactly the way you are; not any more, not any less. The first step of having others accept you, is to accept yourself.