I always used to be the quiet kid. You know, the one that hardly ever said anything in class and was often referred to as "shy."
Rarely would I ever raise my hand to participate. It often produced too much anxiety to do so -- and, I'll admit, at 29 years old it still can from time to time.
I didn't have many friends and I would often get teased by other kids for being so quiet and shy.
In grade school, I often saw it as if something was wrong with me. Why was I not a social butterfly? Why didn't I like drawing attention to myself? Why did I not have many friends?
After all, that's how we are "supposed" to be in this society in order to be considered "normal"... so why couldn't I just be that?
Despite getting older and going to college, feeling this pressure to be more social and extroverted didn't go away. In fact, it some ways, it got worse.
I got a roommate who was very extraverted and couldn't understand why I'd want to sit in my room and read or write quietly for hours. I'd get friends who would get mad over the fact that I would use text rather than call them. I even got a supervisor from an internship who would hound me for not being "social" enough.
Rather than to accept my own personality traits and harness them, I found myself wanting to somehow prove people wrong. In order to "show them" that I was capable of being outgoing and social, I found myself agreeing to do sales jobs when they came available. I'd push myself to be more talkative and try to maintain many friendships. I figured that, by doing so, I'd receive more acceptance and support from others.
But, at the end of the day... I only felt more distressed and unsupported. I often felt overwhelmed and drained because I was trying to please other people rather than myself.
After a few months of living overseas in South Korea a few years ago, things started to change. Living as an expat forced me to really look inward and focus on myself. It was at that point in my life where I realized that the only person who has the power to make me happy is myself.
So I became unapologetic about texting rather than calling.
I became unapologetic about not being super-talkative in my work environments.
I became unapologetic about sitting at home reading rather than going to some social event with a lot of people.
And I let go of my desire to please others. I stopped caring what other people thought or expected of me and I allowed myself to be who I truly was.
As a result, I started to develop an amazing relationship with myself.
By improving my relationship with myself I've managed to...
... improve my health.
... reduce stress.
... feel really truly happy.
And by developing an awesome relationship with myself, I started to find myself in work environments where people supported and accepted my introversion. I found myself in relationships, both personal and professional, with people who accepted my introversion rather than to push me to be something different.
Because I started to accept and love myself exactly as I am on the inside, others started to reflect that on the outside.
Through loving and accepted myself exactly as I am, I've been able to finally feel stand in my own power and be in-tune with my true self.
Which, I suppose, someone who knew me as a kid would never expect. How on earth can the shy and quiet girl ever stand in her power?
Well, ironically, she can... and it didn't come from being super talkative, extroverted and outgoing as so many people have thought I "need" to be. Rather, it's been by fully loving and accepting myself the way I truly am and allowing my truth to be expressed, whether that pleases people or not.
What do you need to let go of so you can truly step into your power? Share in the comments below!
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Jennifer is a self-love coach, writer, spiritual mentor and teacher. She is the founder of JenniferTwardowski.com and the creator of Your Power: How to Harness Your Energy So You Can Truly Shine and Ignite Love from Within: Meditations to Create Relationships and a Life Filled with Love, click here for a free meditation from the album. Her mission is to help women create more loving relationships with themselves. She has been featured in Cosmopolitan, MindBodyGreen, BeliefNet, PositivelyPositive, Elephant Journal, and more.