To all my introverted bookworms, nerds, geeks and misanthropes,
You have the right to remain silent!
As a professional introvert, with over 20 years of experience, I want to tell you today that you do not need to feel ashamed of who you are. As comfortable as it may feel, you do not need to retreat into the shadows of the library or your nearest Waterstones and hide away from the masses. Apologies for sounding terribly trite, but you just need to learn how to love yourself. Do not allow concerned siblings to give you an on the spot Google diagnosis. Do not allow friends to drag you to social events you know for A FACT you are going to loathe. And do not allow society to label you as ‘awkward’. Stand proud, firm and bask in your golden, beautiful, solitary glory.
We are all too familiar with these quotes
” There’s more to life than books! Go make some friends!”
” You have joined the bookclub? Boring!”
” You always have your head in a book!”
Oh, and my personal favourite
” You are on holiday! Put the book down!”
Drawing upon my very own selection of painful memories, I understand all too well the hardships of being an introvert living in an extrovert world. I remember the days in primary school being forced to work in groups for our classroom projects. The noisy parties I attended in my teenage years, standing in stiff politeness amongst the drunken rabble, wishing I was tucked up safely in my room with a good book. Employers (publishers, of course) choosing extroverted candidates over little old me just because they would provide the necessary “office bantz”. And worst of all, as a firstborn, wrestling with the belief that my parents chose to have a second child because they were disappointed with my lack of volume.
However, I’m saying, enough is enough! It’s time to let go of our insecurities and celebrate! It’s time to change the freaking narrative! Words like introverted, anti-social and shy are not dirty words. I am sick and tired of these stale coming-of-age films and books ( I won’t name them for fear of causing a scandal) about the timid girl or the withdrawn boy who is bullied relentlessly by the obnoxious popular kids. How about a film where the cool dude/dudette chases the nerd for a change? And speaking of schools, can we please stop with the ‘find a partner’ exercises? Not everybody wants to work in a team. And while we are on that subject – employers. If it is possible to do so, let your employees decide whether they would prefer to work remotely or not. If I have to listen to one more work conversation about Emmerdale one more time, I’m going to write out my own P45. Please can we talk about something different? Like the brilliance of Agatha Christie! I mean, I’m pretty sure Destiny’s Child explained the perks of being independent twenty years ago. If you’re not going to listen to me, then at least listen to Beyoncé.
Introverts. Yes, we are massively misunderstood. We are deemed as rude, arrogant and sullen individuals ( basically, we are 21st-century Byronic heroes!) But please do not let these stereotypes to make you feel insecure about your wonderful selves.
We are observant.
We are insightful.
We are deep-thinkers.
We are creative.
And in a world packed full of noise pollution, we provide some much-needed peace.
So, the next time somebody asks you the dreaded question “ Why are you so quiet?”, hit them back this shady comeback –
” Empty vessels make the most noise.” (Optional – add four clicks in a Z-formation and head rotation for extra flourish.)