Who am I? This is a question that probably everyone has asked themselves. As simple a question it may be, it is one that promotes high levels of introspection, reflection, and contemplation. It is a question that spans one’s entire lifetime.
I am a natural introvert and struggle with the task of defining and being comfortable with myself. Perhaps a commonly perceived negative trait of introverts is excessive self-doubt and insecurities. I can attest to the hampering effects of these traits, and while they can be suppressed or lessened with deliberate attempts and exposure, it never really goes away. I am by nature quite bashful, but for a moment i.e. in my job, with deliberate and prolonged exposure, I have learned how to put on a mask; a persona of a confident professional. In this instance, I am everything I thought I couldn’t be, everything I could never see myself becoming. I appear smart, confident, humorous and in control, when the truth is, I have doubts almost before every professional interaction and dwell on any mistakes afterward.
I would never even compare my casual self with my professional self; two complete opposites. Once I am out of that professional mode, I struggle with the most basics of interactions, for example, simply buying something at the store seems like a monumental task, just the thought of interacting with the cashier requires some self-convincing. Don’t get me wrong, the exposure that I have gained has helped me overall to become a more confident person, but I find that instinctively, I withdraw into my shell in social events, maybe that is due to a lifetime of being socially inept. This is what I believed was the case and also that it was a shortcoming of mine. But people have different personalities, and introverts and extroverts are wired differently.
Nothing is wrong with being introverted, but at times society makes it seems as though there is, that something is wrong with the way you are, that you should change yourself. This may lead to feelings of inadequacy, discomfort, and unhappiness. It may make you wish you were someone else so you wouldn’t have to go through these feelings. You wouldn’t have to worry about consistently being judged and deemed antisocial. You wouldn’t have to have this negative perception of yourself, that you are relatively insignificant and not deserving of the wonderful things life has to offer.
While I have come to acknowledge my self-worth, I still find myself engaging in self-doubt whenever I am with people I consider my equals or greater. Maybe it is natural, but I often wonder how these persons can speak so freely and with such conviction; no fear of saying something stupid or no care if they do. It seems almost impossible for me to do that, but we are all different and they may be wondering how the hell ‘we introverts’ can keep our mouths shut for so long. Sometimes it seems we are on two different plains, my plain is mental; emphasized by thinking and rethinking thoughts, questioning the surroundings and trying to interpret this physical world abstractly.
You are who you are, and that is okay. Maybe you aren’t that confident person who excels in social situations, maybe you aren’t the most talented, maybe you aren’t wealthy, but don’t let that limit you. You are not your experiences, you were not born with an identity, it is society and the environments that have molded and influenced your definition of yourself. It means then that you can redefine your self-image, it is not immutable, we all have room to grow and change but we often fight against ourselves and deny our potential. It is up to you to uplift yourself, and it starts by accepting who you are.