One of the keys to happiness at any age is to learn to accept yourself for who you really are. Why? Because you can’t build an environment that makes you happy until you know what makes you tick.
You would think that, by the time we reach our 60th birthday, this would be easy. After all, we have had decades to watch our own behavior. We know how we respond to different situations. We think we know what makes us happy.
But, is this really true? Do we really know ourselves? Or, are we just comfortable playing the roles that society has set for us?
Let me give you an example. If I asked you whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, what would you say? I would be willing to bet that a large percentage of the introverts reading this article either see themselves as extroverts at least “some of the time.”
I first noticed this effect when I was working for a large software company. As a part of a team offsite, we were asked to take a Myers-Briggs personality test. Among other things, this test categorizes you as being either extroverted or introverted.
Watching the other members of the group, it was fascinating to find people being happy to “find out” that they were extroverts. It’s almost as if being an extrovert was considered “good” and being and introvert was considered “bad.” Of course, no one said this out loud. But, the truth was written on people’s faces, even if they didn’t recognize it in their hearts.
I fooled myself into thinking that I was an extrovert for many years. I saw public speaking skills and an outgoing personality as being essential to getting ahead in the world. The older I get, the more I realize that I am actually an introvert. I can handle myself in a large group, but, I much prefer one-on-one conversations. I return from large gatherings exhausted, not energized. There’s nothing wrong with that.
If you are an introvert pretending to be an extrovert, it’s time to accept who you are. Being an introvert is wonderful. The world needs deep thinkers and quiet souls. Introverts also make wonderful friends and there is nothing about being an introvert that condemns you to loneliness. You may just feel more comfortable with a few good friends than in a room full of strangers.
Learning to love yourself is a key to happiness at any age. Isn’t it time we accepted who we really are and let other people worry about what society thinks.
I’d love to get your thoughts on this.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Or, do you think the entire introvert vs. extrovert question is overly simplistic and that we are all a mix of both? Do you agree that there is a lot of social pressure to act like an extrovert, especially in the corporate world? Do you think that this has a negative impact on introverts? Please join the conversation.