Updated: Sep 6
Including 6 Ways to Embrace Your Introversion
Today's teens can often feel overwhelmed and sometimes awkward. It's no wonder since they are transitioning from childhood to adulthood under the microscope of parents, teachers, and schoolmates. Teens are under so much social pressure every day, trying to be popular, make friends, compare body image, and consider dating. It all can be too much, especially when combined with an apprehensive desire for independence.
So how do teens figure all this out? Often by talking to similarly frustrated friends or finding means of escape like alcohol or drugs.
I speak from experience. I found alcohol at 11 and by the time I was 16, getting drunk was a regular occasion that only worsened when I faced college and work stress. Finally, two DUI's and some dangerous near misses later, I realized this path was not the answer, it only served as a distraction. If feelings of awkwardness are left unchecked, they can spiral into low self-esteem, loneliness, and depression.
So many swirling thoughts can be overwhelming, but often many things can boil down to one source. When I was around fifty, I researched my own memoir by scanning old journals and recalling moments from decades past. I found a common thread of anxiety and low self-confidence which I can now attribute to introversion.
So how can today's teens work it all out? Start at the beginning - what is introversion and are you an introvert?
What Introversion is/is not
Introversion is a personality type often compared to extroversion. Both lie on the same continuum and everyone resides often at several places on the continuum depending on specific situations. No two introverts are the same. Traditionally, extroversion has been held up as the societal norm reserved for gregarious, social, fast-thinkers. Introverts, therefore, have been cast as the opposite - hermits, anti-socials, cold, and selfish. These definitions are antiquated and unfair. Introverts are often introspective and also caring individuals who enjoy social times within their close circle of friends.
You Might Be an Introvert If...
You enjoy friends in small doses, often 2-4 people for an hour or so
Large groups for extended periods of time are exhausting
You loathe being put on the spot, in group projects, roundtable discussions, or spontaneous debates
You enjoy solo activities like reading, writing, art, or relaxation time
Another common misunderstanding is that shyness and introversion are synonymous. Introversion is a personality type derived from our DNA and brain chemistry, it is part of our foundation. People learn to embrace their introversion and use their inherent strengths to find success and happiness. Shyness is more of an anxiety disorder when contemplating social engagements or public speaking. Shyness can be mitigated with practice while introversion cannot be overcome, just managed. Oftentimes it is difficult to discern the difference as both shy and introverted people often suffer from low self-esteem and can withdraw as a safety precaution. You can be both shy and introverted, but that is not a given.
The 5 Phases of Introversion
Introversion is not a state of being, but a journey. What phase are you in? How can you accelerate your journey?
Unaware: Many people live for decades before even being aware that the term introversion may apply to them.
Uninformed: Even more frustrating, many introverts sink into the negative stigma of introversion referred to earlier. They become self-conscious and often depressed.
Enlightened: Finally, introverts begin to learn the true definition of introversion and the strengths they have been endowed with. This begins the path to authenticity and self-confidence.
Content: After learning about their own strengths, introverts become comfortable in their own skin and are happy to dismiss the occasional naysayer.
Flourish: Some introverts stretch even beyond Content and apply their strengths and ambitions to achieve goals they only dreamed about before.
In our recent survey of over 100 introverts, only 45% said they realized they were an introvert in their teens; ie, they became aware but were still uninformed. For most, such an epiphany occurred in their twenties or thirties, and for some even beyond 50.
Though life may seem overwhelming as a teenager, recognizing your own introversion at this early age and taking the steps to accelerate your journey through learning, self-compassion, and practice, will empower you toward contentment and flourishing well ahead of most others.
6 Ways to Embrace Your Introversion Today
Confide in someone you trust (parent, friend, teacher, counselor, clergy). It helps to get the swirling thoughts out of your head so you can think rationally. You are not alone. Approximately 50% of the population are considered introverts!
Learn about introversion. This will enable you to purge the social stigmas and realize introversion is a gift. Susan Cain's Quiet is considered the quintessential reference for introverts. My memoir, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Story may also serve to help you realize you are not alone by hearing someone else's struggles and personal journey. Or you can peruse my wide variety of blog hyperlinks in this article or more on the Beyond Introversion website.
Discover your strengths. Introverts have many unique strengths which help build friendships, families, and businesses. Once you understand your strengths you can grow them and use them to succeed in even the most frustrating situations. Join over 1800 people and take our free Introvert Strengths Quiz to get your personalized score and material to start growing your natural strengths today.
Stretch kindly. It helps to use your strengths to stretch beyond your comfort zone. Every time you do so you build confidence and learn new things. Be kind to yourself through the journey. It's not about stretching to a point of discomfort (or misery) but to a point of expanding your comfort zone.
Reenergize throughout your day. We operate best with energy. If you know that certain classes or social time will be exhausting, include time to refuel during your day. Don't wait until the end of the day or when all your energy is drained. Try journaling, walking, listening to music, art, or reading. Even a small respite will reenergize you for the next several hours.
Journal periodically. Some like to journal daily and others weekly. Regardless, it's a great way to get your thoughts and worries on paper. Use the pages to sort out problems or plan your approach for the next party or class presentation. Celebrate even your small successes and rid yourself of the negative self-talk that whispers in your ear.
You are not any weirder than anyone else. Embrace who you are. You have many strengths that will enable you to be whatever you want to be, a politician like Barack Obama or Abraham Lincoln, an actor like Emma Watson or Meryl Streep, an athlete like Michael Jordan, a business leader like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Warren Buffett, an activist (Eleanor Roosevelt or Rosa Parks) or writer (J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss) too. Don't hold yourself back and surely don't let others keep you down.
Begin your journey and you will proudly exclaim, "I am an introvert!"
If you'd like to learn more about my journey, my lessons, and my recovery, check out the award-winning memoir, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Story.
“I couldn’t stop reading to find out the next roadblock he faced along his journey and how he coped with it.”
-Mike Kowis, 4-time award-winning author
Courage is available in eBook for $2.99 or I'll send you a signed paperback copy for only $11.99!
Click on the cover to see more and order your copy today!
GUILTY AS CHARGED:
Pushing to an extreme is dangerous and doesn't help "overcome" introversion