That Introvert Life: Don’t Be a Shrinking Violet

Don't Be A Shrinking Violet

If anyone out there is an introvert, this one’s for you.

If you know me, you know that I am a self-defined introvert with an extrovert complex. 

In other words, I tend to think I’m more extroverted than I actually am, which in turn leads me to be somewhat more introverted at times. Go figure.

I grew up in an only-child household–which I loved. And before you say anything–no, I wasn’t spoiled rotten. Not materialistically at least. 

I mean, sure I didn’t have to share my toys or a room with anyone else, but I didn’t always get my way. Just some of the time. As an only child there are a lot of presumptions that others tend to link you in with once they find out that you’ve never had to share a bathroom sink, or be mindful of not finishing all the cereal at breakfast. Some of which are truth, and others just theories. 

But, I digress.

Although one’s introversion is not linked to being an only-child, I can’t help but think that maybe that’s how I developed some of my introverted tendencies. From my Meyers-Briggs score, I was surprisingly labeled an ENFP! Which is, like the polar-opposite of an introvert! 

I think that I can definitely lean towards one end of the spectrum one day, and then lean to the other side on another day. It really just depends on the situation and my comfort level, as to whether or not I will open up to the people around me.

Something that has been nagging at me lately though, has been the thought that I am not being my authentic self to others–my introversion playing a large part in this. 

At some events that I attend, I tend to shrink back and pipe down. Which is really weird. Because, if you know me–heck, if you’re reading this blog, you know–I actually have a lot to say! 

So why then, when faced with a situation in which I am meeting others, or there is a large group of people around, do I tend to clam up and feel so anxious? It just seems counter-productive to the reason that I am in that environment in the first place: to be social. 

The very thing I desire, I run from. 

It makes no sense.

I was speaking with my mom one evening, after I had successfully worked up the courage to go to an event to meet new people, and told her what a great time I had. It was so nice, meeting new people, listening and particpating in the discussions, etc. Introverts uniteAll went perfectly fine, I’d decided as I recounted the night to her, when suddenly hit me: 

I was the first one out the door after it was over.

*face palm*

Yes, I know. You don’t have to say it. Don’t give me that look either–I’m just as frustrated as you are!

After that realization, something that my mom told me a few months ago rang in my head. She said to me, “Leigh, don’t be a shrinking violet.”

I really loved this analogy because of two things.

1) It perfectly describes my tendencies to shrink into the background when I’m feeling uncomfortable. Which causes me to feel even more isolated in a new situation than when I started. And it leaves me not one bit closer to forging new relationships or connections with the people around me.

2) the picture of a shrinking violet, a closed and perhaps frightened flower comes to mind. Maybe with a little courage and encouragement, might soon open and reveal its beauty to the world.

And when I think of this image, I’m encouraged. 

Frustrated, but encouraged, I should say. Frustrated, because I know I have a lot to work on within myself. But encouraged, because I know that I have plenty to offer to those around me.

I am reminded in this moment, of Moses from the Bible. When given the command by the burning bush to lead God’s people out of Egypt, Moses immediately started making excuses as to why he couldn’t do it. Sounds way too familiar, to me. How many times have I made excuses for my shortcomings, because I was too afraid to fail or look stupid in front of others? 

Uh, too many times.

In this case, had Moses not done as he was commanded, harping on his proclaimed lack of eloquence, going his own way because he thought he knew best–the Isrealites would have been straight out of luck.

But he didn’t. 

He knew he was being called to something much greater than he could have ever imagined.

For me, I think of certain situations in which maybe I could impact another person for the better. 

Whether it’s being there for someone when no one else will listen or just being a welcoming and warm presence for someone new–how can I really do that if I’m too afraid to even stick around? 

Simply put, I can’t. 

If I want to build a solid community around me, I need to be present and intentional with the people I meet. That means sticking around an extra 20 or 30 minutes after Bible study or at a work party and talking to that girl whose comment really stood out to me or geeking out with that guy wearing the Adventure Time t-shirt. It’s the little things, folks.

To have presence, requires one to be present. 

Sew that on your grandma’s throw pillow–or not.

Introverts Here!

Long story, short: I’m working on this whole stepping out of my comfort zone thing. Sure it’s not going to happen overnight like I would prefer, but it will happen. I’m trusting God to put me in more situations that force me out of my comfort zone. Even in my weakness (whether that’s shrinking back out of fear or leaving early due to shyness) He is strong and will see me through even the most uncomfortable situations.

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

-Unknown

5 Comments
Leighann

Twenty-something, lover of Jesus. I like animals (esp. dogs), Fun-Fetti cupcakes and yoga. I love God and do my best to love others. I hate too-warm weather and socks that fall into your shoes when you walk. I'm a huge fan of Christian rap and cold, sunny days.

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5 Comments

  • Alysha

    Great post! I totally agree with you about having neurotic tendencies as an introvert and preferring to stay home or regretting even going to events/places. Tfs and making me feel less curmudgeonly. 😉

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Hey Alysha, thanks so much for reading! Yes, we are kindred spirits it seems like lol while I totally think it’s cool to have our moments as introverts, God’s really been pressing on my heart to trust Him a bit more with my social interactions, and to get out there and mingle more. Here’s hoping!

  • Desiree

    This is the story of my life. Thank you do much for sharing this

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Thanks so much for reading, Desiree – and I’m so glad this post resonated with you! It is my pleasure to share my experience with you, in hopes that I can encourage others along the way.

  • Fully Known And Loved By You

    […] outgoing when I want to be. I’d say, they’re both right. I tend to be a wallflower (see Shrinking Violet) when I’m out of my element, or sometimes, I try to be the leader of the […]

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  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 16 𝑜𝒻 31

Hot. No, it’s not what you think. As a matter of fact, when I first saw this picture I was horrified. I saw all that was wrong with my body, my hair and my skin—ugh. 
But you know what? No one’s perfect. And thank God I don’t have to be. Plus, my body was/is working just fine, my hair was moisturized, and my skin was poppin’. Trying to shift my moments of self-doubt and body-consciousness to thankfulness and positive self-talk. 
Also, the day this was taken was HOT, so it still counts towards today’s #augusteyecandy.

I don’t know if anyone’s told you today, but you’re made splendidly and you couldn’t be more perfect than you are right now—yes, even in this heat with your mascara running down your face. ttys 
S/O to @kayzilch and/or her awesome fiancé, Michael for this pic 📸
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 14 𝑜𝒻 31

5pm. 
It’s crazy to think that I’ve actually posted one picture on IG for TWO weeks straight. Especially considering all that’s been going on around me: moving back across the country for school, moving into my new place, actually starting school, remembering how to (somewhat) adult—throw in a little bit of anxiety, and you’ve got yourself the past two weeks of my life. 
All that to say—we made it, folks. We made it to today. And that is enough. You’re doing great—ttys
  • TW: Anxiety/Panic Attack

Anxiety is like a shadow that’s been following me around since I was about thirteen. I guess puberty marked the onset of racing thoughts, subtle hyperventilation and that queasy feeling you get when something’s just not right. I had my first panic attack at nineteen, during a new hire orientation. It felt like I was having a heart attack—my heart inexplicably began to race, my hands shook and I felt warmth all around me. 
I excused myself to the reception area and, in a panic, asked the receptionist if she could help me. She said to place my hands above my head and breathe. I paced around the lobby and breathed, eyes closed. Inhale. Exhale. I worried for a moment that I would die. Then gradually, my heart began to beat at normal pace again. My breathing deepened and my body cooled down to normal as I continued to pace, slower this time. The kind receptionist gave me some water to sip and sat me down until I was ready to go back to the meeting. 
Anxiety can feel like a high-speed train. Going 5mph one minute and 150 mph the next. It can also be subtler, feeling like you can’t quite catch your breathe and you begin to hyperventilate, in a way that is only recognizable to you. 
Although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, anxiety has taught me the importance of coming back to the present. And how allowing myself to feel what is presently around me, can ground me and remind me that I’m alive. I’m safe. 
I share this story in order to start the conversation. Anxiety is a part of my life, whether I like it or not. I hope you know that first of all:

1. You are loved beyond measure and valuable even with your anxious thoughts and actions 
and 
2. You are not the only one 
ttys
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 13 𝑜𝒻 31

Home. For now anyways—is Georgia. The most asked question I get lately has been “Well? Are you gonna stay out there, or move back to California?” So, to help answer anyone’s burning question about my plans for the future, here it is:

Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s just get this last year down and then talk specifics, shall we? Here’s to one of my last first days of school. 
To my fellow cohorts: May we grow. May we care for ourselves and others a little better each day. May we get up the hills to our classes in one piece #UGA
  • Wait, I can’t believe summer is over and I officially start my last year of my MSW program tomorrow! What is life? Time is flying by, and I’m just trying to soak up every moment ☀️
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Sunday morning. 
Mmmm, tacos 🌮 so far, I’m learning to enjoy this new life stage: also known as adulting. I’ll admit, at times it’s a little scary and a whole lot of trial and error, but I know it’s all a part of the plan—even if it sometimes feels like nothing is going according to plan 🤷🏾‍♀️ #adulting am I right? 
Faking it ‘til I make it since ‘92.

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