How Can You Stop Being Such An Introvert?

Dear Heather,

I’ve always been an introvert and a quiet person. I often keep my opinions and feelings to myself because I always worry about what other people will think or if they’ll be offensive towards me. I really lack confidence around people and wish I could be myself without feeling ashamed. How can I stop being such an introvert and overcome this shyness?

shy kitten gif

As a fellow introvert and quiet person, I know how you feel. Keeping to yourself, even if it’s your choice, can be lonely and discouraging. I spent a lot of my life wishing I was the kind of confident, outgoing person who could make friends anywhere, and it sounds like you’re doing the same thing. It’s tough, but you can definitely get through this!

First, though, it’s important to note that there’s a difference between being shy and being an introvert. Having an introverted personality is about a lot more than just acting quiet and feeling awkward in social situations. Introverts are defined as people who tend to avoid crowds, don’t enjoy small talk, tend to be very intense emotionally, genuinely enjoy relaxing by themselves, and think about things very deeply (among many other traits). Introverts gain energy from being by themselves in a quiet situation – they basically need downtime on their own. Introverts spend time alone by choice, not because they are too shy to talk to people even though they wish they could.

While being an introvert and being shy do often go hand-in-hand, they don’t always. Being shy is more about social anxiety or awkwardness. The differences are subtle, but they’re definitely there. I don’t know you, so I can’t pass full judgment on your personality, but what you’re describing sounds more like a case of shyness and low self-esteem. Hey, you might be an introvert as well, but it also sounds like you’re dealing with a lack of confidence more than anything.

This is kind of good news, really – if you’re an introvert, you’re more likely not able to change that. But you can definitely change being shy and not feeling confident in yourself. Gaining confidence is the most important thing here, because with that will come the ability to stop acting so shy. So, let’s focus on that for right now!

I won’t lie: learning how to be confident is tough. It’s easier said than done, and it often takes a long time. My best advice is to start by faking it, forcing it, and putting yourself in an uncomfortable situations. Fake it by standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself you’re awesome. This feels silly and might look weird, but who cares? Do it on your own time, when no one is around. Make lists about what you like about yourself, then focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. For example, if you think you’re a great writer, then focus on writing more and hone your skills. Feel good about what you can do rather than focusing on what you can’t. Pretend to be confident, and eventually, it will be real.

Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is also important here. I know firsthand how hard it can be to speak your opinion, but you have to take the plunge and just do it. Say what you think to trusted friends and family members, and learn how to talk about these things with them. Consider starting a blog where you can learn how to say what you feel – writing is easier for many than actually speaking. Force yourself to talk even if you blush like crazy. Introduce yourself to someone, make small talk, go to a party even if you’re scared. It will feel horrible at first, but it’s the only way to adjust.

All of that being said, I want you to remember something important: there is nothing wrong with being introverted, shy, or both. We live in a society that praises extroverts and outgoing people, which can make it easy to feel badly about yourself if you’re not either, but trust me: it’s okay to be a quiet person. It really is! I had to accept that about myself before I could feel good about myself. Yes, it’s important to be outspoken in certain situations, but not always. Take your time with this. Focus on your confidence, and the rest will follow. Good luck!

What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at heather@gurl.com

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  • Lexi Achterhof

    It’s really, really hard to live as a quiet introvert in a world like this, where outgoing personalities and loudness is praised. It’s tough. I’m someone who is that way and it took me a very long time to accept my personality and work with it rather than against it. I’m 21 now and have a very happy life with my close circle of friends and my partner- they all understand that I need alone time quite frequently and love me just the same. It’s who you are and you deserve to have close friends and loved ones that understand that and let you be who you are….even if you need 60% alone time to 40% socializing time. 🙂 That’s how I am, and making sure that I get the required alone time allows me to have even more fun when I am social with friends!