Are you an introvert surrounded by extroverted family members? Then you’re the “black sheep of the family”! Here’s how to be happy when you’re the only introvert in a tribe of people with extroverted personality traits.
On our She Blossoms Facebook Group, I asked if our members had more introverted than extroverted personality traits. The consensus was definitely introversion. Then, a reader asked a great question about being an introvert in an extroverted family: “Most of the time, group activities drain a lot of energy from me. Once in a while I enjoy being in a group but then I find a way to withdraw. How do I make my loved ones understand this part of me?”
She’s the black sheep of the family! If you feel like the only introvert in a world of extroverts, you’re not alone. You may feel alone because your family all have extroverted personality traits and you’re don’t quite know how to be happy, but you’re in good company. Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone is my most popular article because people with introverted personality traits struggle to find their place.
And the biggest, most important, and most personal struggle is in our own families. That’s why you feel like the black sheep.
How to Be Happy as the Black Sheep of the Family
I went on a Christian women’s retreat a few weeks ago; it wasn’t organized by my church or Bible Study group. In fact, I didn’t know a single woman there! The first woman I met — Beth — said, “You’re so brave to go on a women’s retreat by yourself!”
“Actually, I love being alone,” I said. “I’d rather be alone here than with someone else, so I can just do my own thing without having to talk or interact. I’m one of those introverted hermit writers.” I was actually working on my latest book idea (Blossoming After Loss). So not only am I happier alone because of my introverted personality traits, but also because I need time to think, reflect, and be creative. I know how to be happy: have people around, but don’t feel obligated to have to talk to them all the time.
I wasn’t the black sheep of the family growing up, because my mom is actually an introvert. But I was the black sheep of the foster homes I lived in, and I learned how to be happy as an introvert in a world of extroverts!
Understand your family’s extroverted personality traits
At the women’s retreat — when I told Beth I’m an introvert — she said something very cool: “My daughter is an introvert, too. In fact, we had to convince her to come because she didn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of people all weekend. Our whole family is made up of extroverts except for her. We actually went to family counseling to help us understand her, because we thought something was wrong with us as a family.”
Beth is the mom of three daughters. Only one of those daughters — the middle daughter, Michelle — is introverted. Not only that, both Beth and her husband Tom are extroverts. So Beth is the only one with introverted personality traits in her family of five! That caused problems for them as a family, because the extroverts just didn’t understand why Michelle acted the way she did. And Michelle felt frustrated and lonely because she was the only introvert in a family of extroverts. That’s exactly how it feels to be the black sheep of the family: frustrated, alone, and misunderstood.
But before you can learn how to be happy as an introvert in a family of extroverts, you need to understand their personality traits — as well as yours. If you know nothing about extroverted personality traits, how can you expect your family to understand what life is like for you as an introvert?
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If you still live with your mom and dad, read How to Cope With Controlling Parents When You Live at Home.
Accept that your family needs help understanding you
Introverts are emotionally, spiritually, and physically drained when they spend time with people. The more people around, the more draining it is. And the more chit chat and small talk introverts have to make, the more tired they get. An introvert would leave a women’s retreat weekend exhausted because of all the interaction and talking, stimulation and company. Introverts aren’t just the black sheep of the family, they’re the black sheep of the workplace, the group of friends, the neighborhood, and even the world! We introverts live in a world of extroverts – not just a family of extroverts.
People with extroverted personality traits are energized by groups — the more, the merrier! An extrovert would leave the women’s retreat vibrating with energy and good will to all. Extroverts know how to be happy: gather where the people are. Gather the family, the friends, the neighbors, the acquaintances. Groups make extroverts happy, jazzed up, all Blossomy good.
Your family simply doesn’t understand you. They know you’re the black sheep of the family and they love you. But, extroverts just don’t naturally understand people who are quieter and more introverted. If you want to be happy, your job as an introvert is to help your family understand. You may not have to go to family counseling (though I think everyone should go to counseling! Introvert or not, extroverted family members or not, black sheep or not).
Learn about families, introversion, and black sheep
Start by reading books, articles, and blog posts about introverted personality traits so you understand yourself better. Learn the difference between introversion and extroversion. You might even read books about how to be happy when you’re the black sheep of the family.
Your family loves you, even though they may not understand you or your choices. They care about you; they want you safe and happy. They want you to be happy and secure in this world.
Are you — or your family — worried about your future? Maybe you want to pursue a specific job, but you think your introverted personality traits are holding you back. They’re not! Read 30 Most Famous Introverts and Celebrities Who Are Loners. Even though you’re the black sheep of the family, you can still succeed in a public role. Not all actors are extroverts — just like not all writers are introverts.
Accept yourself as the introverted black sheep of the family
Here’s a quick tip on how to be happy: learn how to accept and even love yourself. If you’re comfortable with your introverted personality traits and life, then your family will be comfortable with who you are. No matter how many family members with extroverted personality traits you have, they will accept you if you accept yourself.
But there is a trick to this tip. You can’t make yourself feel happy or accept yourself for who you are, because you always make mistakes! If you try to love yourself based on your behavior or personality or friends, then you’ll always be struggling with disappointment, failure, and frustration.
BUT, if you see yourself the way God does, then you will learn how to be happy in all circumstances! It won’t matter if you’re the black sheep of the family, or if your introverted personality traits seem to be getting in your way, or if you just don’t fit in with your tribe. You will know the peace and joy that comes with God’s acceptance and love…and you will thrive and Blossom into the person He created you to be.
How about that?
Help for Introverted “Black Sheep” Family Members
Introvert Doodles: An Illustrated Look at Introvert Life in an Extrovert World by “Maureen Marzi” Wilson is a fun, entertaining, and informative way to describe what it’s like to be introverted to your extroverted family members!
This is an excellent way to help your family understand how you feel as an introvert surrounded by extroverts. You don’t have to lecture your family or even show them blog posts on how to be happy when you’re the black sheep in a family of people with extroverted personality traits 🙂 Just hand them this book. They’ll understand you in a whole different way — and they’ll see other introverts differently, as well.
In Susan Cain’s bestselling Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, she describes how and why people with extroverted personality traits are more highly valued than introverts. She also introduces us to successful introverts, such as a popular and witty public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks (like Jesus did) to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions.
While this book doesn’t focus on how to be happy when you’re the black sheep of the family, it will show you how real people with introverted personality traits can be wildly happy successful in their lives, careers, and world. This book will change how you see introverts — and how you see yourself.
What do you think about my tips on how to be happy when you’re the black sheep of the family? Share below! I’d love to hear from you — but I can’t offer advice or personal feedback on being an introvert in a family of extroverts.
Feeling like the black sheep of the family is the perfect opportunity for you to see yourself through God’s eyes. He created you exactly the way you are, and He placed you in your family for a reason. Trust Him, for He loves you and knows exactly how you feel. Turn to Him, for He gave His son Jesus so you would be free, joyful, and whole!
Have faith. Believe. Trust.
Do you need relationship help? Get Mort Fertel's 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage. It's helpful - and free!