I spent so much time alone in my room growing up that my parents used to question if I was depressed.
In reality, I was just having a damn good time with myself, reading TeenBeat, experimenting with makeup, fantasizing about life’s possibilities, and having dance parties in heels in front of my mirror.
Can a girl live?!
I was, and still am I think, a bit misunderstood by my family. They’re a gregarious bunch and I’m the only quiet one who prefers to not have attention on her. (That makes my family seem like attention whores; they’re not. Attention just tends to freak me out a bit more and I’d rather just be left to do my own thing without all eyes on me.)
Sure, part of why I kept to myself was a coping mechanism.
It’s undeniable and something I didn’t realize until I got older. It’s easier to be sheltered in my own world than to be judged or have to deal with the expectations that were outside of my door.
In my world, I could be my true self without being questioned or judged.
But, besides isolating myself to cope, I was allowing myself to recharge.
Being around loud people can be exhausting. Being forced to talk about myself and my day can be exhausting. Fake smiling to please people is always exhausting.
To this day, my parents, whom I have a good relationship with, will still sometimes say “smile!” if I’m looking particularly displeased and I still want to scream. (They apparently don’t understand what resting bitch face is.)
Instead of doing what they tell me to, I’m old enough to finally stand up for myself. Does it always go over well? No. But the little girl inside always admires the badass in me who now has the ability to put boundaries in place and communicate authentically without fear of the consequences.
I’m thankful for people like Susan Cain who help the world understand introverts and their value. To read her book Quiet as a young woman who had been misunderstood the majority of her life was like a huge sigh of relief.
“Someone gets me.”
I won’t apologize for having a rich inner world, for enjoying my own company, for needing to take breaks from people and things that drain the energy from me, or for not being the bubbly person that society values so much.
I won’t be forced to smile, by my family, men on the street, or colleagues.
I know it can make people feel uncomfortable.
But my job or purpose isn’t to make people feel comfortable.
I will live and act how I choose to, and I accept that not everyone will understand.
My priority isn’t to have everyone understand me. It is to be true to who I am. Always.