So, let me simply start by saying "I'm an introvert and that's okay." It's more than okay, it's part of who I am. It's in my nature as they say, part of my personality and I'm very happy being who I am.
For me to be able to say that at all is a big deal, given my past mental health demons, where I was my own worst enemy and my self esteem was at rock bottom. Now, I'm lucky that I can say I'm my own friend and I love myself. Not in an egotistical I am above everyone else kind of way, arrogance has never appealed to me. However I love myself by wanting the best for myself. You know designer clothes and accessories, a Bentley with my own personal driver, a maid and a house with as many bathrooms as there are days of the week.... Haha. No, what I mean by that is actually much more simple, love, happiness, friendship and good health would obviously be very welcome.
When I was battling depression and anxiety I certainly learnt that being kind to yourself and treating yourself with respect is important. Being at odds with yourself and constantly putting yourself down can lead you down some very dark roads. Harming yourself with words and physical harm in it's many different guises. Turning against the one person you need to believe in most- you, yourself.
Perhaps having been down that path I can appreciate all the more what knowing my self worth means, and in doing so my self confidence has grown.
So does this mean that now I am the life and soul of a party, loud and in charge? That I can walk/ wheel into a room and feel I can have everyone in it eating out of the palm of my hand. Wishing they could be as confident as I am. Or that I can post bikini photos to Instagram thinking I have a body that will leave everyone commenting #goals. Erm... No!
I think this is the image that many of us have of confident people but the fact is it's not always an expression of self confidence; anymore than it is being an extrovert. Or a believable actor. Having been involved with theatre since the age of 14, I've seen this a lot. What's funny is I always thought to myself that deep down they weren't actually that confident or secure in themselves. That they were putting on an act, and the best part they were playing was themselves. What's more I never wanted to be compared to them, although at times I inevitably was. One of the reasons I had actually started theatre workshops was to try build up my self confidence again and it really did help. But it certainly didn't turn me into a more flamboyant extrovert. In fact it literally drove me into the wings backstage. Funnily, I'm not a fan of 'drama' either.
Because I believe confidence isn't about making a scene. Confidence can come in many different guises depending on different personalities. Confidence doesn't have to be a loud roar, but a quiet, self assured nod. Ultimately, I think confidence (whether you're an introvert or an extrovert) stems from knowing who you are and having the courage to say "this is who I am and I'm happy with who I am." Whether that be the loudest person in the room or the one quietly sitting in the corner taking everything in.
So, yes I'm quiet, shy and a bit socially awkward. I always disliked having to put my hand up at school, not so much because I didn't know the answer or have an opinion; I just didn't like being so forthright. I'm much more comfortable socialising in smaller groups and in quieter places. That's not to say I can't enjoy a more noisy night out or larger groups. Not that that is much of a concern given my current state. It's just that I am more comfortable being with a smaller group, somewhere I don't also have to compete with blaring music. I'm not the best at small talk, and can find it hard to think of things to say, especially to people I don't know that well. I can't exactly say so what did you think of the latest episode of Love Island or Big Brother, because it's doubtful I'll have seen them. And I'm awful at phone calls, much preferring text messages. Socially, it might take a little while for me to feel comfortable enough around new people and let them see the lighter, more humours side of me; and that's something that I can continue to work on.
But non of this means I don't have any self confidence or belief in myself. I just internalise things more and am quietly confident; but without bottling things up so much that they affect my mental health. I still have the ability to lead meetings and speak with confidence, albeit I like to be organised and prepared beforehand. I still like to socialise. I still like company. But I'm also completely comfortable spending time with only myself for company. What's more I can still stand up for myself when I need to, and will stand by a friend in need of defending.
We all express ourselves in different ways. I'm certainly more of a doer than a talker; although I always try to be there to talk to a friend in need. I'd like to think I give good advice and if I don't know what to say, that I can be of some comfort just being there and listening when they need to vent. But I'm someone that speaks more through my actions and I love a random act of kindness.
So for all the introverts out there, like me, don't think you have to be a certain way to be confident. Don't compare yourself to others, or be critical of your own characteristics/ personality. There are many things you can work on as you continue to grow and learn but never feel bad for being who you are. So what if you're shy? There are far worse things to be. Learn to work with yourself rather than against yourself. What's more learn to love yourself for all that you are, quirks and all.