Growing up in a family of five children was difficult for me. I had a hard time learning who I was while constantly comparing myself to my siblings. You see, I was an introverted child surrounded by extremely extroverted brothers and sisters. While they were attending birthday parties, going to sporting events and having slumber parties, I spent most of my time in my bedroom reading books and daydreaming.
When I say I spent most of my time in my room reading, I mean I would come home from school nearly every day, grab a snack from the kitchen and immediately depart to my boudoir where I would read until dinner time or later. I didn’t have a lot of friends, and frankly I wasn’t interested in making any. If I wasn’t reading in my room, I would turn on music and sit on my bed in silence and just think. I would let my brain ramble without letting any thoughts fall by the wayside.
I wish my parents understood my introverted behavior was completely normal. Despite my “antisocial” tendencies, I was actually socializing and developing in a healthy manner — learning about myself, the characters in my books and the fictional characters I hoped to write about someday. Though these were characters and not real people, they still taught me lessons about friendship, love, grief, tragedy, joy, pain and more.
As an introvert, literature saved me from feeling the sadness my parents had always worried existed in me. Literature allowed me to discover some of the most amazing experiences, all from the comfort and safety of my bedroom. I became a pirate of the Treasure Island, a fairy in Wonderland, and an adventurer with Pippy. I became everything I ever expected myself to be. I had everything I needed and more to be happy as an introvert.
When my parents discovered the amount of contentment and joy I gained from my books, they began to support my introverted nature even more by getting me books for holidays and special occasions and chairs perfect for the avid reader, like me. This is when I truly began to discover the benefits of reading for introverted souls. I managed to find solace in literature for so many reasons, which made me want to help other introverts discover the same sense of passion I gained from books as a young girl and even as a growing woman.
Many Authors Were Introverts
Reading a book wasn’t enough for me as a girl. I also wanted to learn more about the authors who created the magical stories that transported me to infinite realms. When I discovered that many of the people who wrote the stories I enjoyed were also introverts like me, it brought me so much comfort and joy to know that I wasn’t alone — that I wasn’t the only person who enjoyed stories to entertain me.
I found a lot of comfort in English class, especially when I started high school. I had several teachers recommend books to my friends and I as a way to find something meaningful in our education. Some of my friends weren’t as into reading as I was, but my teachers were able to motivate them despite their reluctance to pick up a book. Eventually, we all grew closer to the stories and characters we were learning about.
Many of those friends (whom I’m still quite close with today) are now active readers like I am. They spend most of their free time with their noses in books, and it makes me so proud to know they found a place in the world of literature. We have even begun a book club. We are currently reading Shantaram.
Reading Allows for Quiet, Private Time
Introverts rely very heavily on their intuition, and it is nearly impossible to follow your intuition if you haven’t learned to listen to it. I know that much of the time I spent alone was working on listening to my thoughts, listening to my body and listening to my gut.
Reading gives you the time and space to recuperate after a potential stress-causing situation or experience. Reading also worked really well to bring me out of my head, which was also a problem of mine. I loved to sit in silence and just let my mind go, but sometimes it became too much.
This is when I would pick up a book and let the story unravel before me. I didn’t have to think so much, and I could simply enjoy a headspace that was full of mysticism, adventure and love.
When I went to college, finding quiet time became extremely difficult for me because I was learning to live with a roommate. If you’re in a similar situation, use the technique that worked well for me and put earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones on when you read to help create your quiet space even when it’s not so quiet.
Stories Offer Escape From an Overwhelming Reality
My family didn’t have the opportunity to travel much because there were so many of us, so my books acted as my vessel, and my mind was the fuel to take me around the world and back again. I learned so much about different cultures, places and people.
I even learned about things far too complicated for my adolescent mind like drug addiction, divorce and infidelity. I learned what real friendship looks like and how to detect a foe in your midst. Most importantly, I learned just how complicated people were, including myself.
This understanding became my tranquility — to know that the problems I faced were not unlike other people’s. That at the end of the day people are all very similar and hoping for the same outcomes in life.
Introverts Can Identify With Characters
Though I enjoyed reading these adventures and tales of love and journeys toward self-discovery, I also enjoyed getting to know the characters in my books. They often became some of my best friends.
Characters in books are some of the greatest role models for introverts. These characters defy their limitations and challenge expectations — much like introverts do. You see, introverts are not hermit people who live in a shell and don’t speak.
Introverts are people who have devoted connections to their intuition and understand how people interact with the world. Introverts have strong senses of self and don’t like to be controlled by the limitations of societal expectations. Introverts are strong, and we build our strength by letting ourselves feel everything, even the sadness and grief in life. Though we seem disconnected from the world, we are actually highly sensitive to it and feel its pain like our own.
If you are introvert and looking for a place to feel true solace, look no further than your bookshelf. Open a book and let it wash over you; let it fill the potentially empty spaces in your heart and let books be the lifeblood that spark creativity and joy into your world.
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