When we talk about personality types, one of the things that often comes up is whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert. We just sort of accept that some people are quieter than others.
Interestingly, that personality trait isn't a fixed one. It's very possible for a person to be boisterous and outspoken when they're young but end up as a more reserved adult. The opposite is also true, though, and that's what we're going to talk about today.
We're focusing on that quiet kid in the back of the class who grew up to be more of an extrovert. Those of us (guilty as charged) who wanted desperately to be outgoing would really love to know...
So let's get straight to some answers, shall we?
I'm still quiet, but now people realize that I'm a great listener and everyone tells me things they usually don't tell anyone.
I'm trustworthy for no reason lol
I ended up working in a grocery store that prided itself on customer interactions so I ended up being forced to converse with strangers. Ends up conversation is a skill and like all skills you can improve with practice.
People assumed I was quiet in HS because I was smart, which really fed my ego. Now people assume I'm quiet because something's wrong with me, which is really sapping from my ego.
I moved out and was no longer out shone by my parents and family. I dared to open up more and kinda found myself
Both my parents are successful musicians and often play big concerts with big orchestra. My brothers were also quite good musicians and my youngest bro is actually studying at the conservatory at the age of 12. The other one played the drum and violin and the tuba for a few years in elementary school. And then you had me. I suck at music, I can't sing, play an instrument bc I'm tonedeaf (I don't hear the difference between different notes, neither do I hear a bass) or read music sheets. I showed interest in the piano and guitar but after realizing it would lead no where bc I'd always need support from other to, for example, tune my guitar, I gave up. I was more talented in other ways, I like to draw and write and create poems. I love to come up with characters and made detailed stories for them. My parents were... disappointed, to say the least. Especially my mom who (I think) had a dream of creating a mini version of her own. My dad in the other found it sad but he was happy I had at least tried and he still supported my other talents. At school I was an average kid, B - grades, not many friends, a wall flower.
This was due my insecurities from home among other things. So it was no wonder that my parents and brothers out shone me. I was... Just me and they were successful and talented and it was always "OH how is your brother doing" and "OH did you go to your mom's concert, she played amazing, didn't she?!" or "How is (brother A) doing, is he still playing the (instrument)?". It was barely "Hey how are you OP?" and "How is school going?". When I moved out, I had a couple rough fights with my parents bc of this as they still expected them to support them and help them and babysit my siblings who are bc much younger than me. I didn't mind doing it if it wasn't for snide remarks I sometimes got like "you barely visit us!" (I was last week at your place wtf are you saying mom?) or "We help you out so much and you never do something in return!" (wow geezz thanks dad) and don't forget the famous "You are always too busy to call of come by, we are your parents!" (Yeah, I know, congrats for figuring that one out, Sherlock Homes but I have my own life and things I need to go to. I can't call you for every fart). It's been now a couple years and I am still in contact with them bc they realized I was my own person and have my own life. Bc I now no longer lived at home and I was pretty young when I moved out people started giving me attention and got curious about my life. I also dared to open up more and more and explore my own talents and learn how to socialize.
Sorry for the long story 😅😅
I have a job that requires me to host meetings, establish report with clients and vendors, and everyone thinks I'm an outgoing extrovert. I am not. It's torture everyday. I cringe everytime the phone rings. I would love to just have a quiet, stay-in-my-cubicle all day kind of job. Or better yet, be able to work from home. Looking forward to a quiet retirement someday.
Not Quiet, Polite
I work in a lab with other former 'quiet kids' and now we're all loud and cracking obscene jokes with each other.
Turns out I'm not quiet, I'm polite and most things that go through my head aren't easy for normal people to like.
I discovered alcohol and realized I'm actually a lot of fun and have tons to talk about. Who knew?
Worked very hard at not being quiet, and realized I had something to offer and that the stakes are usually very, very low if a conversation doesn't go well. I was quiet because I had low self-esteem etc.. so luckily I was able to improve that. One light that got turned on just a few years after high school was someone said they thought I was a snob - so probably a bunch thought I had been a snob. Though it was the opposite (I felt I was not worth taking up someone else's time) it would have looked exactly the same on the outside. So the fact that I was walking around making people feel bad didn't sit right with me and I tried my best to make people at least comfortable.
Here's What Helped
What helped: my best friend was very outgoing and had a lot of friends, and I would sometimes observe her to try to better understand how she interacted so easily and comfortably in many different situations, and would sometimes ask her questions about about it. Also, I discovered a book by a psychologist named Philip Zimbardo who did extensive research on shyness. The book had advice and behavioral exercises to help build more social confidence. I read the book when I was 14 and began trying to do one thing every day from the list of suggestions/activities, and it did help. Some of the activities were low-risk, and others forced me to step out of my comfort zone, which was a good thing. I checked that book out from the library several times over the next couple of years. I just looked up the title. "Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It."
Another thing that helped a great deal was experimenting with behaving as if I was not a shy person in situations where I did not know many people. I was active in my church youth group, and 2 or 3 times a year, there were youth conferences where kids from a bunch of different churches were all together at one of the larger churches, or at a college campus for a weekend. I saw this as a good opportunity to experiment with "outgoing" behavior, because if I somehow accidentally embarrassed myself, it would not be around kids that I saw all the time. I made friends with girls, talked to boys (a couple of whom flirted with me, and another that called me at home later). I found the experience liberating, and I enjoyed it so much that I started to be more outgoing at school. Getting a part-time job when I was 16 at a restaurant where most of the employees were teens, some from my school and some from other schools, was an experience that forced me to become more comfortable making friends.
In college, I got a job as an RA in the dorms my junior year, and was surprised at how good I was at the peer counseling part of the job. I had not expected to enjoy helping students who had personal problems, academic trouble, roommate conflicts, and so on, but found I was good at it, in large part because as a quiet person, I knew how to be a good listener. Eventually, I became an art therapist - that is a mental health counselor who uses art in therapy sessions to help clients express their emotions. I still tend to be quiet in large group situations, and very much prefer one-to-one or small-group social situations, and I need some time alone every day, but I feel happy with my life. The first time I saw the term "gregarious introvert," I thought "That is exactly what I am, and my husband, too!" We both enjoy meeting new people, but need some alone time every day. Our two young children seem to have the same disposition.
Authorities And Peers Were The Problem
First, a customer-facing job. Others have covered this well. Practice.
The other thing is that as an adult, being quiet is considered more of a 'personality type' and not so much a 'dysfunction that requires constant attempts at intervention'. And that goes a long way! Gained a huge amount of confidence in a hurry when I was all of a sudden no longer surrounded by both authorities and peers who assumed something must be wrong with me.