A page out of the introvert manual

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As an introvert, I tend to spend a lot of time inside my own head. Many people who have gotten to know me over the years would argue that I am most definitely not an introvert- perhaps just borderline ambivert- but maybe that just because there are many varied definitions out there. How I define the difference between introverts and extroverts is essentially how and where they get their energy from. Both kinds of people can be the life of the party, can have great social skills and build powerful teams- the difference is one of them is exhausted by these activities and the other thrives on them. If you can relate to the  feeling that it takes a lot of conscious effort and mindfulness to have carry out a meaningful conversation with another person, then welcome to the club! I envy people who can effortlessly breeze from one social interaction to the next without missing a heartbeat, without needing a personal moment to collect themselves.

TL;DR people who are perfectly content in their own company, can sometimes become disconnected from the outside world. While gaining plenty of insight into our own minds, we can become dismissive of thoughts/feelings of those in our periphery.  The upside though? We also learn to become self-reliant and resilient. While sensitive to external stimuli,  we don’t actively seek out external validation. This makes us less susceptible to self-help dogmas, motivational speakers and glorified role models.  I have very little patience for books that tell me how to find my path, my happiness but at the same time I am fascinated by psychological texts and case studies on human behavior. As much as I want improve upon engaging my abilities, I can’t relate to needing someone on the outside to regurgitate common sense. I don’t feel the need to “hear it from someone else” to know what’ll work for me and what won’t. Unsolicited life advice is a very special pet peeve of mine.

Where am I going wrong though? We are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to self-help and self-improvement. How does one become a better person? better friend? better spouse? how does one make him/herself more likeable? There are obviously quite a few people out there wandering through bookstore aisles looking for the meaning to life, or at least the meaning to their own life. I believe that most of the times when you are stuck in a rut- whether it is career, personal relationships or internal angst- the answers lie somewhere inside you already. You can get a mentor, see a therapist or talk to your priest, but none of those people have the power to peek inside your mind and decipher how you truly feel. There is no one out there who knows you better than you yourself. There is no magic recipe for happiness or success because the key unique ingredient is you. You get to pick your path- sure others may help you process your options but only you can decide where you need to be. Skills require learning and education but if the subject of study is you, guess who the subject matter expert might be.

When we need help, our first instinct is to ask someone else, scour the internet for answers but not really to trust our own instincts. If you are trying to figure out how to use a power saw for the first time, I’d highly recommended expert advice over your own. But if you are wondering how to tap into your own potential, build on your dreams- maybe spend some time in quality introspection. To find inspiration, find what motivates you. It’s easier to pay a personal trainer to yell at you once a week to workout and chide you on your eating habits but only you can help yourself build habits to be healthier and set yourself up for success. A therapist can tell you to cut off toxic people from your life but you already know who or what you need to purge. Someone else echoing your thoughts can be comforting and give you renewed confidence in your choices but it’s also debilitating in the long run. The constant need for validation and extrinsic support can prevent you for being proactive and seizing the next opportunity for growth. Inspirational quotes and charismatic idols are nice but becoming your own best friend, taking your own advice when it matters the most is what truly helps with self-actualization.

That said it’s important to also know when you do need help and it’s okay to ask for it. People are different and their needs are also different. I only propose having more faith in yourself and your abilities. Be your own hero and see how that works that. I’ll be doing the same.

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