This post is by Kathryn Hall, Founder of The Business of Introverts
On Saturday I went for an eight mile hike with my partner Ollie and three other friends.
Armed with a picnic of crusty bread, cheese, olives and elderflower cordial to quench our thirst we set off enthusiastically to walk The Hidden Valley – a beautiful area of rolling hills, grazing sheep and poppy fields that sit quietly behind the bustling city of Brighton.
As the sun shone down and our legs worked hard, chit-chat between friends ensued. We shared news, work, holidays and moments of awe at the gorgeous landscapes that lay before us. The conversation flowed effortlessly between old friends who have known each other for many years.
On a personal level I felt completely at ease. Comfortable with my surroundings, with the people whose company I found myself in, with the task that lay ahead of me, and with the typically English countryside which I so adore. This was most definitely my kind of day out.
However, despite my ease, I was very much the quiet one of the group.
Happily ambling along I listened to my friends talk of their lives while also day-dreaming and reflecting on my own, I gazed out to the beautiful green hills while quietly breathing in the fresh air, I ate my picnic and really tasted the delicious food in my mouth, and I joyfully soaked up the sunshine as I took in the murmur of conversation.
I was happy, content, at peace.
And yet, had a stranger been watching from the sidelines this scene could have easily been misconstrued.
The fact is that despite the huge rise in awareness and discussion around introversion, there is still a massive and ongoing misconception around what being an introvert actually means. And to be honest, it’s hardly surprising. Type introvert into the Cambridge dictionary and you’ll be faced with a definition that tells you an introvert is ‘someone who is shy, quiet and unable to make friends easily‘. Ouch.
Now of course sometimes that is the case. Introversion and shyness can certainly go hand-in-hand, in the same way that extroversion and shyness can often be partnered (yes, you CAN get shy extroverts!)
But, and this is key, shyness and introversion are not one and the same.
Shyness is about lack of confidence, fear of speaking up, and an anxiety about what might be.
And I can tell you now. As I walked those eight miles with those friends who have been in my life for the last few years, I wasn’t quiet because I didn’t have the confidence to speak up and talk.
I was quiet for the sole reason that I was simply content in being so.
And do you know what? I absolutely love that.
About the author
Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to quiet types across the globe who want to live happy, healthy and empowered lives. She’s big on helping people to embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a business they love.
Sign up here to receive her free audio series designed to help you escape the overwhelm and run your business with ease. You’ll also gain access to The Sanctuary; a private and supportive community for quiet types in business.