Sometimes people hold me up as an example of someone who is independent, confident, and outgoing because I was able to move far away from my family and build a new life with my husband. The very idea makes me laugh.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been a self-proclaimed introvert. As a child I loved books and playing by myself, and I was hopelessly shy. I remember distinctly a time when my mom sent my younger sister and I into a gas station to pay for something. I was too shy to pay for it myself, so I made my younger sister do it. Yes, my younger sister.
Later on, a 17-year-old me sat in my mom’s car crying because I was too afraid to go into my first college class. For years, I would get so nervous going into new situations where I knew no one that I would throw up beforehand. But, oh yeah, I moved 1000 miles away from my family, made new friends, and now have little trouble going into a big new group. Real life confession, though? I still don’t like calling people on the phone and I am still definitely an introvert.
Being an introvert is something you’re born with. You can’t change it anymore that you can change the color of your skin or your eyes. What you can change is how you respond to it. Too often, I see the phrase “I’m an introvert” used as an excuse to shy away from situations that make someone nervous or uncomfortable. Believe me, I get it! I’ve used the very same excuse. I know from experience, however, how unfulfilling that excuse can be. Life has pushed me out of my comfort zone and away from that excuse. I’ve become unafraid by being forced to push through my fears.
That day I cried in the car? My mom made me go anyway. A few months later I went to England for two weeks with a friend. I puked a lot on that trip, but I came back the better for it. That same year I timidly submitted an application to be a small group leader with the on-campus Christian group I was a part of. My two friends and I nervously joined the 40 other leaders (that we didn’t know) on their weeklong camp. We had an amazing time and made many new friends. Just a few months later I went to a conference where there would be 300 other homeschool graduates…none of which I knew. I puked the morning I left…but I went anyways, and while there I met the man that one would day be my husband.
I could have let my introversion hold me back from all of those things. If I had, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, nor would I have the wonderful life I have today. Without a doubt, I would be just as afraid, shy, and lacking in confidence, and probably miserably unhappy and lonely.
I will never regret pushing myself out of my comfort zone. When I started to do so, I suddenly started thinking a lot less about myself and a lot more about others. You see, as introverts sometimes we get so caught up in our feelings and fears that we completely forget about the feelings and fears of others. Often times, we miss out on being a blessing to others by letting our introversion be a cop-out or an excuse. In turn, we never get out of our own selves, and we sink only further into our introverted “ways”.
Today, I don’t get sick to my stomach in new situations or panic talking to new people. My instinct is still to wait for someone else to initiate, and I avoid making phone calls, but I am no longer afraid of them either. I embrace who I am as an introvert, but I don’t let it control my life.
Pushing past your introversion is never easy…but it is always worth it.