What I Learned from Being an Introverted Teen

Op-ed

As a young girl, I always thought of my introverted nature as a flaw and something to overcome. Back then, I didn’t even know that there was a word for who I am. Being a teen itself is a burdensome journey, but also being an introvert comes with a set of more troubles. It took me 16 years to embrace my quiet and reserved temperament. However, I experienced a lot of struggles that held me back from being who I was.

For starters, my parents absolutely hated my introversion, and they still do. I was always told to “come out of my shell” and become an extrovert in order to fit into this babbling world. My parents are quite extroverted, so they have a difficult time understanding how they have an introverted child, which is why they fail to understand me. They would even jokingly tease or deride my personality. Unfortunately, I completely fail to understand that type of humor. And this is something a lot of parents do: they think that this way, they are encouraging their kids to be more social when instead, their kids end up resenting them.

Nonetheless, being an introvert has taught me a lot. Now, I understand myself better, so I don't struggle as much as I did before. But I know a lot of teens are still going through it. Especially with the whole confusion about their personality that doesn’t get welcomed easily and gets neglected so often.

Here are five things most introverts can relate to and more on what it's like to be an introverted teen.

1. People will make assumptions

Introverts have a tendency to keep their thoughts to themselves. They are also known to be very private people. This gives others a chance to make assumptions about you that may be entirely wrong. One of the most common statements that most introverts hear is: they are antisocial/unfriendly. Introverts need time to warm up and be talkative, especially around new people. We are generally good listeners and would prefer to listen than talk. But that doesn’t mean we are not friendly.

Another assumption they make is this: you are not knowledgeable. Extroverts are seen to be always sharing their ideas and thoughts verbally. That’s why some teachers try so hard to make the quiet kid in the back speak up. But introverts don’t communicate like that. Usually, they are better at written communication. They may have a quiet mouth, but they have a really loud mind.

2. you might have a hard time fitting in

Sadly, you don’t see as many introverts in school or social gatherings as you’d like. I truly believe there are many hidden introverts in the crowd. However, it can be a struggle if no one matches your personality and energy. It can be backbreaking to explain to fellow extroverts why you get energy from solitude. Or why you would rather stay in your bed and watch a movie instead of going out to the movies.

My problem was mostly with school. Almost every kid of my age seemed to be social and didn’t mind making new friends. Introverts don’t like change, mainly about who they want to let into their circle, so it can be perplexing for them to handle a typical school environment and that is why I still struggle to make friends at school.

3. Not everyone will see your reality

As I said earlier, extroverts will never precisely understand some behaviors and traits that appear to be “normal” only to introverts. When your friends decide to go out every day of the week and you refuse the invitation, you will automatically be labeled as “boring”. No matter how much you educate them about how introversion works, it will never make true sense to them. Because to them, why would anyone want to be home all the time?

But that is okay. Not everyone will understand you and accept you. The right people will never force you to change yourself and they will respect your privacy. Introversion is not something to overcome. The right friends will encourage you to grow into it.

4. Being quiet is being obedient

Regardless of all the obstacles introverts face, this might be an advantage. Many elderly people and adults see quietness and shyness as being a good child. My parents have gotten countless compliments on how well mannered I am ( they don’t agree). I have also noticed that kids who are very verbal and outspoken are described as “bad kids."

Although it seems like a compliment, it’s not. First of all, just because introverts are quiet, that does not indicate that they never speak up when they need to. Secondly, kids are not “bad” because they express themselves freely. The biggest difference to notice in both introverts and extroverts is the way they express themselves and both temperaments should be acknowledged and accepted.

5. People will underestimate you

Back to the assumptions, how many of you introverts have heard that they won’t make a good leader simply because they are not “loud” enough? I was never seen as a good candidate when it came to leadership. This is mainly the reason why my parents made fun of me and wanted me to change. They wanted me to be the “class monitor” or the “captain” in school, but I wasn’t. I know that many introverted teenagers get pressured to participate in activities that might be overwhelming for them.

But what I want everyone to understand is that leadership has nothing to do with how loud or quiet you are. Leadership is about being responsible, mature, and having the ability to make appropriate decisions without disregarding others’ opinions. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Emma Watson are some of the well-known leaders who are introverts. They did not let their quiet nature prevent them from speaking up.

You don’t have to compromise and change who you are in order to have a successful life.

Adults always want to show us the “correct” way to obtain a victorious life. In particular, kids who are introverts get taught how to change themselves so that they can fit into the societal norms which are ideal for extroverts. But the truth is, there is no correct way. Everyone has different goals in life and priorities. As long as you keep chasing your dreams and not give up, you will be successful.

To all the introverted teens out there who are struggling to be heard and noticed, you don’t ever have to compromise. Embrace your introversion because it is a strength. You are perfectly capable of doing all the things that an extrovert can do, only your methods will differ. Even if you fail to explain yourself to others, it’s important that you are aware of your strengths and go on at your own pace.

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Mehek Azra
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Mehek Azra is a Junior. She is a cool introvert and spends most of her time at home. Mehek loves to read in her free time and uses writing as a medium to express herself. She also loves listening to music.