I’m an introvert. I’m only saying so because people keep reminding me. I wouldn’t normally feel the need to label myself at all, since I know my real personality, and the confident, funny, way I am when I feel comfortable. But when I’m not as comfortable, that’s when people call me serious, or say “I know this is hard for you,” anytime I do something that is at all “putting myself out there.”  People make like I should be “so proud of myself.”

And I just want to say, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to be proud of me. Because, you know, I actually can do things. Maybe I’d sometimes rather do things quietly, and it doesn’t technically mean I’m shying away. Maybe at times my natural nature is to have a soft voice – it’s not something that needs to be fixed. You don’t need to tell me to “speak up.”

What I think bothers me the most about the way I often get perceived as an introvert, is when people create this narrative of me that is just plainly false. When you’re an introvert, people can treat you like you’re a boring person. They see the tip of the iceberg, and then think they know the full thing, that thing being your personality.

People often think shyness equals insecurity, but my confidence doesn’t need to be loud to be proven. I think when people feel the need to show off their confidence in a brash way, it’s usually because they’re actually insecure. 

I believe my words and actions matter, so I’m calculated about these things. A part of social anxiety is being self absorbed to some extent. You put a spotlight on yourself. Most people say and do things and don’t put so much weight on how they’re being perceived. When I know for me – who I am, what I do, and how the world sees me – it’s definitely something I think about more than the average person. The most frustrating thing for me is that I actually love attention, but my shyness and people perceiving me as shy feels like it stubbornly stands in the way, and has for the majority of my life. 

I know who I am on the inside is incredibly capable, but it defuses the confidence I have in my own abilities when people talk down to me as this shy person. 

The thing is, I like to be alone because I like to be given the space to think for myself. If I was out talking to people all the time, that would give me less time to think my own original thoughts. 

I’m a naturally vulnerable and openly authentic person. I don’t want to sound cynical, but I think we all can admit there’s a certain amount of acting fake that comes with socializing.

And I personally find it difficult to be anything but 100% real. So maybe I could, but very much choose not to, engage in the shallowness of most social interactions.

I guess you can say I’ve always been mature among my peers. I remember at sleepaway camp at age 12, my bed was the bottom bunk in the corner. And I stayed in my corner and read magazines or decorated my wall. And every once in a while someone would come up to me and say something like, “Lotus, I never even notice you over here.” 

I made myself pretty invisible while the other girls, I don’t know, made friendship bracelets? Told secrets? What do 12-year-old girls do? I don’t know because I was in the corner…lol.

And I suppose it seemed like I was the serious one. But I’d rather think, though it may sound a bit snobbish, that I was the mature one. I don’t like being called serious because I’m not – I’m super goofy. But some environments can make me bored, and I just never seemed to fit in too well with people my age.

Something I’ve learned about shyness is that it’s often a sign of when you don’t want to do something. Maybe the reason someone isn’t talking is because the conversation doesn’t interest them. I know for me, if you change the topic to something I care a lot about, you probably won’t be able to get me to shut up.

It can make me feel like I’m malfunctioning when people say things like I need to “speak up.” I’m sensitive, so it hurts my feelings. And that’s why I’m writing this. 

The piece of me people call introverted is the same piece of me people call sweet and gentle. It’s part of who I am as an artist. It’s the side of me that’s compassionate. The side of me that’s introverted is the same side of me that’s introspective. And it’s a side of me that should be celebrated.

But just like anything else, when you’re different than the typical person, people are going to call you out on it. And at times ignorantly. But something I’ve learned, and I’m still learning, is that what other people say does not redefine who you are.

Don’t let people misunderstanding you change the way you feel about yourself. You know the true and full story; other people are only reading a line from a page. 

One person might see an introvert, but someone else might see an extremely interesting person with a richly developed mind. 

From now on, I’ll try identifying with the second option.