Tiny Wisdom: The Things We Don’t Want to Do

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Every now and then, I get an email from someone telling me I should attend or speak at some conference that attracts lots of passionate bloggers or inspiring people interested in personal development.

A part of me always feels a little conflicted when I receive an invitation or suggestion regarding an event like this because I think I should want to go, but I just plain don’t.

I’m an introvert and I don’t love big crowds, which makes a conference environment far from appealing.

I also don’t enjoy sitting for great lengths of time, watching back-to-back presentations. As someone whose work requires me to spend a great deal alone, caught up in my head, I prefer to spend my off time engaging with the world and being active.

Lastly, I feel a need to create some balance between my spiritual/personal growth inclinations and the part of my life that has nothing to do with blogging or self-discovery.

That means I’d far rather spend three off-days hiking or exploring a new city than attending some type of conference, workshop, or seminar.

So why do I find myself questioning my instincts and trying to change my own mind?

I do it because I think I should want to be involved in those events—because other people do, because this is my field (and there’s a lot of money to be made in speaking), and because I fear I may be somehow missing out.

Ultimately, I end up creating mental drama just to avoid standing by my own convictions and accepting there’s nothing wrong with them. Ironically, I end up missing out on what I actually want to do when I worry about what I might be missing by not doing something else.

I suspect this is something a lot of us do—push ourselves to do things we don’t find appealing because we think we should. I understand that sometimes we need to do things we don’t enjoy if they’re part of a larger process we’re committed to.

But when it comes to the big decisions about where we’re going professionally, or how we spend our time, we owe it to ourselves to recognize what we genuinely don’t want.

Every time we act against our own instincts, we reinforce to ourselves that there’s something wrong with them—and there isn’t. There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to how we want to spend our time.

There’s just what’s right for you, what’s right for me, and the possibility of us each experiencing true joy by identifying and honoring those things.

My “right” path may look nothing like yours, and both are completely valid.

With this in mind, I’m now finally ready to acknowledge and respect my own interests and preferences:

Hi! My name is Lori, and I strongly dislike conferences, workshops, seminars, and all other events of the sort.

I think I’ll stop questioning that now, and allow myself to be drawn to what genuinely feels right.

Is there something you’ve been pressuring yourself to want or like that you just plain don’t?

Photo by SarahC73

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Thank you, Lori! And, to think, all this time I thought there was something wrong with me.

    I’m an introvert as well. Honestly, I’m INFJ – which is around 1% of the world’s population. I know that makes me different and, dare I say, unique. However, my problem has always been in growing my business in order to help others.

    I see so many other professionals running from this conference to that seminar and it all sounds like the life of the successful. There’s so much influence placed on being “out there” that I’ve struggled with whether or not I can make my business a success. Again, it’s that round peg in a square hole syndrome.

    Truly, I feel drained after events and even more drained when I have to travel a great distance for it. I don’t like to sit idle and, although there are a great number of people from which to learn, I feel I can learn more from them online than offline.

    It’s kept me confused. How can I want success and yet prefer to stay away from such events? Doesn’t that go against the grain?

    Yes, it does and that’s what makes it so wonderful!

  • songofshambhala

    Oh, yeah, you may email me at for more information

  • YES!! I, too, am an introvert and for a long while I thought that I was supposed to want to be an extrovert and all that comes with it. It’s only been in the past year that I have figured this out! I LOVE to write. I have a fairly popular blog and have written a book. I’ve had a number of speaking gigs and while it was exciting, I found myself not really looking forward to them. I can see myself sitting down in a small group and facilitating a conversation, but not “speaking.” Also? It seems like everyone else and their sisters and brothers who have followed along the same path I did have become or are becoming coaches…and for a while I thought I had to do that, as well. And every time I’d look into it, I’d feel icky inside. So…I continue to write and to believe that it is enough 🙂

  • holly klump

    Another INFJ here!  I find the balance between people time and my own time difficult.  The thing I struggle with most, though, is actually driving!  I was older in life when I learned to drive, never have really enjoyed it, and still don’t.  It creates the most stress in my life, when I have to drive someplace new.  I feel pressure to get out there and drive new places and see new things, and I feel embarrassed that this is such a struggle, when it is such a non-issue to so many people.  While I love exploring new places, I don’t particularity enjoy being in the driver’s seat, and prefer to travel using public transportation if possible, or my own two feet.  I’m slowly accepting that it’s just not something I like to do.  I also discover more on foot in my own town than I ever could by car, and for these I feel lucky.  It is hard to always accept this about myself, though, b/c we live in such a car centric society.

  • Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project refers to her Twelve Personal Commandments, the first of which is to be herself. This plays right alongside that concept, & I love it. Too often we are afraid to go our own way, & choose instead to live up to expectations that aren’t in line with who we are. I call it “Permission to Remove Labels”. Good for you, for sticking to your guns. Don’t spend another moment feeling guilty about living your own life, which is ultimately the only one you have! 🙂

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this wonderful, uplifting and helpful post.  Your words echo discussions between my mother (and mentor), who I miss dearly!  We talked many times about how the word “should” need not be in our vocabulary!  I felt like I was listening to her … what a gift you have given me … and your other readers, through your written word!!! Love and light to you! ~ Sarah

  • Melis

    I am so grateful you shared this!!!! : )

  • calmwithin

    Good post.  As an introvert and small business owner, I choose to go to some conferences and networking events because I want to.  It helps our business.  But sometimes I go to events I’m not really crazy about because I think I should.  Your post reminds me to listen to my own instincts on whether to participate in an event or not. 

    And for those conference I choose to attend, one thing that works for me is to plan how much interaction I can take beforehand.  I recently went to a conference where I was networking for 3 hours.  It was valuable, I made some good contacts, but I knew that would be about all I could take in one day.  I passed on an invitation to go to dinner with some friends and instead had a nice quiet evening in my hotel room.  That was enough for me to recharge my batteries and be ready for more networking the next day. As an introvert I still enjoy talking to people, I really do, but I have to pick my spots, and be careful not to overextend myself in social situations.

  • Iesikalara

    Yes acting like I’m still single and like I have to like to go out to bars and clubs. I am 35 now and in a committed relationship and I feel so guilty to say no to my friends. Thanks for your amazing post. I hear my drummer loud and clear. Thanks!!

  • Connie

    Lori, how true!

    Funny, I have NO desire to sit through conferences or presentations period. I was always trying to get out of work meetings, just for the fact that I found them utterly boring and I could be doing something more valuable with my time. I have spent much time with myself to realize and appreciate my authentic self is not the extrovert, but in fact an introvert. I enjoy my own company, like peace and just plain ole relaxing. I realized this when an acquintance asked me to go to a nightclub which I was not really interested in. I was fighting with the back and forth of should I or should’nt I. Well I ended up going and having a dreadful time and was quite evil towards everyone. I was so upset the following morning and decided that I am no longer going to do what doesn’t interest me. That was a very valuable lesson, which was rather unpleasant to go through, but a true awakening. I enjoy spending my time at Starbucks, movies, going for walks near the lake and that is my idea of tranquility 🙂

  • David_L_Q

    I appreciate this post. At the age of 35, I’m just now accepting who I am, and what I like to do. I used to force myself to go out with friends to bars and clubs because I didn’t want to disappoint them. Now, I simply tell the truth and tell them those places don’t appeal to me, and that I’m more comfortable in smaller social settings. My friends think something is wrong with me because I used to say yes to almost everything. Nope, nothing is wrong at all. I’ve just decided to say yes to the things I’m comfortable with doing now. It’s good to know it’s okay to be an introvert as well. Hi, my name is David, and I don’t enjoy going out to bars and clubs!

    Thanks Lori!

  • APOL

    Timely post for me! Another poster mentioned Gretchen Rubin. She strongly believes in “Be Gretchen.” For example, all your friends love shopping; yet you don’t. Don’t feel like you HAVE TO go shopping if it’s against your nature. I am an introvert by nature. I often fall into the HAVE TO trap. I get invited to Girl’s Night Out with a bunch of random women I don’t really know. I would much rather go out with a good friend or two to have a glass of wine. However, I fear looking like I am lame or boring; so I either go and don’t enjoy myself or I decline and then beat myself insisting I am missing out on something. My idea of a good night is journaling, reading, or hitting a movie with my husband. Accepting who you are is liberating!

  • “Is there something you’ve been pressuring yourself to want or like that you just plain don’t?”

    Yes. The pressure I have had on me to be what I am not…to be what pleases others in their assessment of what I should be or do.

    I have quit “shoulding” myself and begun, in earnest, to be what I feel most like being. And feeling. That is not coming to fruition too quickly. And it shouldn’t. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be something in other people’s eyes and not liking what I see through their lenses. Lenses that I turned on myself and found myself wanting. Now that I am using my own perspective of me, I wonder why I spent all those years heeding the beat of different drummers. I am making a judiciously slow transformation. Maintaining authenticity.

    I’ve been enjoying a sort of vacation, free of interference from the outside. This long plunge into solitude has helped me feel comfortable “in my own skin.” As much as I have missed interacting with others, the occasional foray into social situations now reassures me that my solo trek is the one I most want to travel. I will reach whatever goals I set more mindfully now.

    As usual, Lori, I fully appreciate your insight.

    ~ Mark

  • Alexander Dunlop

    Perfectly true Lori.  Thank you for sharing.  It’s something I see all the time in my own life and in my coaching practice.  I’m always asking myself and my clients:  “what do you REALLY want?”  So, we can get below the “shoulds” and find out who we really are.  🙂

  • Jmaileyf

    love this post! I have been at a job I thought I should take because it paid more money…but this job is not me. I have made the decision to change jobs again even though it has only been 6 months. Life is too short to do things because you think you should…especially just for more money

  • Laugia78

    Just took a promotion at work for the financial benefit, it is exactly as I suspected…not at all what I want. My true self does not enjoy the responsibilities of the position and shame on me for going against my gut. Id like to think its a learning experience and continue to try to stay on my true path.

  • Jennifer

    What a fantastic post! And something I can SO totally relate to! I especially like that you point out the sad irony of missing out on what we really want to be doing because we’re so busy worrying about what we think we SHOULD be doing. I used to beat myself up in high school because I’m not a big fan of parties and going out. So I’d stay home. But instead of enjoying myself at home doing whatever it was I’d rather be doing (reading, writing, walking around the lake, etc.), I was thinking what a loser I was for not being out with all the “cool” people. How unfortunate. I’m going to do my best to honor my desires from now on — cool people be damned ;p
    I really appreciated, also, a comment someone made on your facebook page about this article — about the trouble they sometimes have distinguishing between things they truly don’t want to do and things they’re just AFRAID to do. I have that same problem and it’s definitely something I have to be aware of and constantly challenge. It can be confusing at times and sometimes the only way to figure it out is to dive in and find out.

  • You…are…awesome! This blog is so great. I would like to say I
    am impressed in my first sight here.


  • You’re most welcome David! I’ve done that same thing, pushing myself to go to bars and clubs. I’ve always preferred intimate gatherings, whether it’s a game night or dinner with close friends. So it sounds like we have a lot in common!

  • That’s a great idea, about planning in advance. It’s all about balance, I think.

  • I’m a big “Happiness Project” fan, and that was one of my favorite parts! I also love journaling, reading, and watching movies with my boyfriend. Whenever I let myself do what I want to do, I feel such a sense of peace. You’re right–it’s so liberating!

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad you’re hearing your drummer! =)

  • I’ve thought about that at times too–whether I really don’t want to do something, or I’m just scared. One thing that helps me is to ask myself, “If I knew I wouldn’t lose anything by doing this, would I want to? If I knew only good things would come from it, would I enjoy it?” These kinds of questions help me get in touch with the real root of my resistance.

  • That’s great you realized it now. Something similar happened to my sister last year. She took a promotion she really didn’t want because she was afraid it would reflect poorly on her if she didn’t. Then she realized she really disliked the added responsibilities and missed her old role. Like you, she took it as a learning experience. We’re all works in progress!

  • That’s great you were able to change jobs again. I think it can be so hard to acknowledge when you want to make a change, so I always admire when someone’s able to do that.

  • Thanks Alexander. That’s such an important question to ask!

  • I’m glad you enjoyed this Melis!

  • Thanks so much Sarah. Love and light to you too!

  • I love The Happiness Project–and what you wrote at the end (about not feeling guilty about living your own life). Wonderful advice!

  • Thanks so much Mark. Sometimes a slow transformation is the best kind, I’ve found. How wonderful you’re feeling more comfortable in your own skin and taking this time for yourself. =)

  • Do you have a bike Holly? I’m not a huge fan of driving either (especially here in LA), but I find bike riding really peaceful!

  • That’s exactly how I feel, about facilitating a conversation–it feels so much more natural than standing in front of people and delivering a presentation. And I’m with you on coaching. I thought I was supposed to go that path, then I realized, just because I write, that doesn’t mean I need to be a coach, book speaking gigs, and run workshops. I don’t need to be everything to everyone, especially since that limits my ability to be what I need to be for me!

  • I know what you mean, about the influence placed on “being out there.” That’s led to a great deal of internal struggle for me. I feel so relieved when I accept it’s okay to do things my way. Here’s to going against the grain! =)

  • This made me think of something I recently realised – and it took me years. I’d been fighting for years to make money online like other people do – through my blogs. I don’t have the necessary technical or marketing skills and I was ignoring what I was really good at – writing and editing. 

    Now I’ve stopped trying to fit into other people’s boxes they’ve created. Like you said, I felt I had to do it because others were. Now I concentrate on my writing and editing and I’m finally making money in the way I alone can – with my own talent. Thank you for this. 

  • Robert

    Just make sure that the underlying driver is not fear !

  • “Is there something you’ve been pressuring yourself to want or like that you just plain don’t?” Yes, a few things actually that I don’t care to name here but I will mention one…cooking Salmon. No, make that two…children’s birthday parties and baby showers that last several hours long.

  • Thanks Robert! Interestingly, I’m doing something today I’ve been scared of doing, and therefore resisted, and I can feel a huge difference between this and my feelings about conferences. I’m terrified, and yet I feel so excited (I’m interviewing for acting classes, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time). When I think of those types of events that I don’t really want to do, all I feel is frustration with myself for thinking I should do it. That’s the big difference for me–when there’s excitement under the resistance.

  • Cooking salmon, huh? Is that one because you’re not a fan of cooking, or not a fan of salmon? Incidentally, I’m not a fan of long showers either!

  • I feel the same way about writing/marketing Anne! That’s great you’ve been able to step out of that box and find what feels right to you. =)

  • Cat

    Thank you! I have been trying to talk myself into taking a much higher paying job that I plain don’t want by telling myself that maybe I need to stretch myself etc. etc. Sometimes we do just need to listen to that inner voice that says ‘no that’s not me!’  

  • You’re most welcome Cat! I second what a lot of readers wrote, about how it’s tough to know sometimes if you should stretch yourself, or if you really don’t want to do something. This has caused a lot of conflict for me as well, but I feel such relief when I give myself permission not to do something I feel strongly opposed to doing. I suspect that’s a good indicator that you don’t really want something–when you just feel free and joyful for giving yourself permission not to do it!

  • Yes and no. I’m not a huge fan of cooking but there are times when I do enjoy it. I am a fan of Salmon but not when I have to cook it. That particular fish never comes out the way I want it to, so after several tries, it has become something that I don’t want to do. Funny you mention long showers…I don’t mind those so much, unless I have somewhere to go.

  • Hi Connie! I missed this before. I jump around sometimes when responding to comments. I was always the same, with work meetings. I’m not really a big fan of sitting and watching people talk (though I love seeing plays and movies). And I also enjoy my own company and plain old relaxing! Regarding clubs, that’s usually not my scene, though I did enjoy going in Vegas for my boyfriend’s 30th. We had a small group and a private table, so that was more my speed. It’s a great feeling to let yourself be who you are. I find the older I get, the more comfortable I am doing that!

  • Hi, my name is TB and I don’t like to read books.  If they’re over a few pages, I don’t want to read them. I don’t like it. I don’t like waiting around for myself to finish them, I don’t like seeing all those pages that I have to read, I don’t like made-up tales… I don’t like reading books. Articles, blogs, billboards — fine. But books? I don’t like them. And everyone always says that everyone should read books. And reading books is great. And reading books makes you smart…. I don’t like them. There! I said it!

  • I know a lot of intelligent people who don’t love reading books, TB. You’re not alone there!

  • Lori,

    I totally see myself here! I’m so convinced that I need to be everything, do everything and experience everything.

    I too was reminded of Gretchin’s post on the sadness of her own happiness project. She talked about how “being Gretchen” means accepting that she’ll never jet off for a weekend in Paris, or visit a jazz club at midnight. Those are things she’s just not inclined to do.

    But accepting that means accepting her limitations. It means accepting the limited nature of her experience. In Gretchen’s words: “the world offers so much!–and I am too small to appreciate it.”

    Lori, the fear you mentioned – of “somehow missing out” – reminds me of Gretchen’s sadness. I experience that  sadness/fear a lot. What if my own inclincations prevent me from experiencing something truly great? What if I miss out on some ultimate experience or achievement just because my natural tendencies wouldn’t let me go there?

    My efforts at self-improvement and self-expansion are sometimes grounded in those fears. I try to watch out for that 🙂 

  • I didn’t remember that quote, but I love it (The world offers too much and I am too small to appreciate it.) There’s actually this whole cultural phenomenon about the fear of missing out. If you haven’t read about it, Google FOMO. It’s fascinating!

  • Wordlywoman

    It was so nice to read your post about “shoulds” and how you don’t enjoy crowds and sitting through all day presentations.  Finding that balance between introvert and extrovert is something I am always working on.  My work requires me to be more extroverted but I am careful to find the time to pull away and go within to replenish my energy and center myself.   Recognizing and staying true to who I am is what I strive to do each day.  Thanks for your posts. 

  • You’re most welcome! I’m always striving to find that balance, as well. I find I don’t mind crowds as much when I’m excited about the activity–for example, I love walking through Vegas, and it’s often jam packed all over the strip. Then I look forward to yoga class or a hot bath, replenishing myself as you said. 

  • Hannah

    I have recently joined a socialising group to meet new people and hopefully make new friends following a break up. I was feeling very lonely as my partner had been my best friend and we did everything together. I thought what I needed was to make friends and do things with them to make me feel better. However, since I’ve joined, I have realised that there are things that I want to do, that I am interested in, which I am putting on hold because they would ‘clash’ with planned events by the socialising group. The group were going drinking in bars and pubs and that isn’t really me at all.

    I found I am attending events like that, at the expense of what I am really interested in and what I really want to do, just so I can have ‘friends’ around me. It is making me think about what is important in life. Surely I can make friends by following my interests and passions and not have to do things I don’t want to do and as a result feel like I am ‘fake’ or ‘pretending’ to be someone I’m not… it’s something I’m working through at the moment…trying to meet people/friends v following my heart, even if I have to do it alone….?

  • That’s great you’re following your own interests and passions. I think when we do that, we’re much more likely to form deep connections because we meet people with similar interests and mindsets. Some of the best friends I ever made were in community theater with me when I was younger. I always thought I should be a cheerleader, or into sports, but I don’t think I would have felt that same sense of belonging. It just wasn’t me.

  • Faith Kyunghee Chen

    I recently discovered your blog from a good friend of mine and I think it’s amazing! This is the exact lesson I am learning and practicing. Thank you!

  • You’re most welcome, and thank you! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it so far!

  • Ignas

    This is the second time I’m using google to find something about the thing I keep thinking of. Before I tryed to do something related to fitness and it did’nt worked out as I have imagined my self being in the near future. I’ve spent some time studying the subject which I have never being doing before, but that could be caused by my thinking of ‘I can be anybody’ or something like that. Later on I’ve lost my interest on the subject and I had to stop doing it, simply I could not image my self being there anymore. During that time I have met new people and expanded my ‘horizons’ or just got some wisdom. Nothing much to say about it.

    On the other hand I had one interest that I always could do and enjoy doing it ofcourse. Whatever I image or think of about the music which I was always interested in makes me feel good,feeling of relief and so on. Just going to study it and make my career on it. But I still struggle to keep on track and I sometimes end up spending my time at random things at the end of the day, that makes me feel I’m wrong of what I did in the next morning.

  • kimberly

    Wow. I love this……EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. You seen I have been looking for a job and many of them don’t appeal to me because I am an introvert by nature. But, because I love to laugh and a have a great sense of humor, I am commonly mistaken for being an extrovert…But I am NOT. I feel very misunderstood and that no one believes me when I say it.

    Trying to be helpful people are calling me up with leads for high pressure, fast paced sales jobs claiming that with my personality I am a natural and would be great at it. The problem is that those fast paced environments with those high level of group interactions totally exhaust me and steal my soul. I lose touch with my innate self and suffer physically, mentally, emotionally and most of all spiritually if forced to be in that type of arena for too long. I have done it and that is how I know.

    I feel I can’t sell myself out.And I won’t. I think I am going to receive a lot of criticism. So, I needed this. Thank you.

  • Rohan_Panikkar

    Hi Lori, really nicely written.
    Only I don’t understand what I should do when my instinct suggests I sit down in front of my computer and finish a soap opera/movie! In my case, that’s about the only thing I’ve ever felt like doing — instinctively. I have always LOVED spending my time that way. And I have ALWAYS hated doing all kinds of work that are “supposed to be done, regardless of whether you like it or not”. Even routine tasks like household chores, shopping for clothes (I dislike marketplaces), etc. are unbearably boring. I just can’t bring myself to simply get up and finish them off! I’ve always finished my tasks right at the deadline. It might all sound a little weird, even funny, but it’s creating havoc in my life. I just cannot bring myself to do things I don’t enjoy doing. They are left unfinished. I’ve been puzzling over this (issue?) for years and have always reached the same conclusion: that I’m excessively lazy and there’s something seriously wrong with me.
    But on reading this article, I realized there is, supposedly, nothing wrong with one’s instincts. Do you think it still holds true in my case, though?

  • Jamie_s

    Hey Lori,
    Rohan has a point, though it seems to be phrased in a question, What if your instincts are just plain lazy, do we still give them free reign, regardless of the consequences? And if not, where’s the break even point between doing what you want and doing what’s required of you?

  • Hi Rohan,

    I don’t think it necessarily means you’re lazy because you don’t like doing chores. Do you get any type of physical exercise? Do you do anything other than watching movies and soap operas? Unless you’ve completely shut down and now do nothing but stare at your computer screen, odds are, you just don’t like chores!

    For the purpose of this post, I was talking about the choices we make regarding how we spend our free time–leisure activities, hobbies, professional activities, things that aren’t related to taking care of ourselves or maintaining our home.

    Those other things are things that have to be done. Now, I know some people with money who outsource chores for this very reason–they don’t enjoy them and can afford not to do them. For the rest of us who can’t do that, we have no choice to push through the discomfort and just get it done! It doesn’t mean your instincts are wrong; it just means this is one case where you need to do it anyways.


  • Hi Jamie,

    I think we each need to objectively weigh the consequences of following our instincts so we can decide if an instinct is actually serving us, or rather compelling us to avoid doing something that we just plain need to do. It’s tricky, because there are going to be things we need to do that we don’t want to do. If we’re honest with ourselves, we usually know when this is the case!


  • Scott

    As a 12 stepper i’m reminded of something my Sponsor asks me to ask myself when feeling this way. “Am I relunctantly giving something I think I must, or willingly giving something I can”, and the purpose of this insight is to avoid copping a resentment towards people for an act I am responsible for. Which is giving something I think I have to or that I “Should” want to. Thanks for the post

  • justin

    Hi Lori…. This post really resonates with me….I am an introvert also and spent NINE years as a HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER! I resigned recently for reasons that I do not care to share here, but let me tell you… it was the best choice I ever made in my working life. I now have work that is suited to my introverted personality – doing translations. (I was a Spanish teacher). I’ve had several clients since I started a few months ago and have all the time in the world to build up a business as my wife brings in a nice salary. My conclusion for the group: When we live authentically and in alignment and in a way consistent with who we are fundamentally, we find peace, happiness, and can truly pave the road to prosperity for ourselves and our families. No more doing personality backflips every day for this introverted guy. And hey…. if you don’t want to do events… DON’T DO THEM. Don’t feel bad, guilty, ashamed or anything like that. Just because you COULD do something does not mean that you HAVE TO. We ALWAYS have a choice – no matter what the circumstances are. Peace and Love.

  • justin

    HI David…. I don’t like it either unless with cherished company. I prefer the quiet and relaxed conversation that an intimate gathering offers. You are NOT weird. You are INTROVERTED, like ME! Love to you, brother. Stay quiet in a world that won’t shut up.

  • Eome

    In the years past I was such an “extrovert” just for these reasons to please people to just fit in and to fulfill a false sense of obligation. Over the past five years I have been learning that this nature of being out in the public eye to please the people is just a drain on my life and was far from my truest nature. I have been looking deeply in my heart to hear my drummer. Funny thing is I am one, a drummer that is. I found so many times that this calling of my introverted nature that I posses has lead to a false sense of sadness and feeling of failure. I spent a good portion of my life being out in the public eye and found that my false self has lead me to judge and criticize my new desire to be out and productive in the public eye. I started to want to become nameless in all my works and still do to this day. What I found with all this people pleasing is a wolf in sheep’s clothing with a lot of my “friends” and acquaintances.It lead to a whole lot of miss trust in people. I felt for a long time not safe in this world. As time has shown me it was not the world I couldn’t find trust in but really I couldn’t find trust in my own world from with in. I feel a slow and steady healing with this safety with this trust, through being a introvert at this moment of my life. I use to live on the feeling of being in front of mass people and performing and sharing my creations. These days I create for just the sake of creating and I am still learning how to be my own fan of sorts with my works. Its a like a seesaw at times going in and out of not wanting to be around people at all and then being around too many. In time I am finding this balance. The only thing in time is I and ME.

    Thank you for this post and to all the people that have shared their hearts here in the comments.True warriors here that’s for sure!

  • gia

    When you mwke any chsnges to better yourvself if true friends they will be happy for you. Also i feel friend doiesnt chsnge there character , things happen because we let them, when ee make chsnge there should be support, like you do gor them. I experirnce lot different things from people good and bad, but i let that get in my way. Thetes other people you can meet thst like you fir you, if you feel rght for you then stickvwith it.

  • Lance

    A lot of the time it is often said that a person should step outside their comfort zone. How does one find the balance between doing what you really want to do and stepping outside our comfort zone (for the purpose of growth) which often involves doing things we don’t want to do?

  • Hi Lance,

    You may want to check out this post, as it addresses this very question:

    I hope this helps!


  • Pepper Tan

    This post is heaven-sent. I’ve agreed to go on this trip with a friend, but I admit that I’m not too keen on going, because it involves a lot of socialization, which I’m not really comfortable with. I’ve been battling with myself, arguing that I might miss out on all the fun. But I know deep inside that forcing myself to interact with strangers would only be more stressful than relaxing. Yes, I am an introvert, and totally rockin’ it! 🙂

  • maggie

    Even though I can see most of the comments are from a year, or two ago, this post is still right on time. I am just now struggling with a decision concerning going or not going for orchestra courses. I am a cellist, finishing my fourth year of studies, majoring in orchestral performance. During summer there are some courses that one can attend, I auditioned and I can go to Germany for two weeks to play. I should want to go. But I don’t want to. I know it’s a great opportunity to meet people, experience playing abroad, learn new pieces, see new places. But I don’t want to go. I want to enjoy summertime, spend time with my boyfriend and friends, keep searching for passion, play tennis, read books. So… what do you think: is this something I should force myself to do?

  • Hi Maggie,

    Does any part of you want to go to this course, or is the pull merely a sense of guilt?

    When you auditioned, was it because, on some level, you wanted this experience, or solely because you thought you should?

    If you can answer these questions, it may be easier to make this decision because you will understand if it’s worth pushing through your resistance.

    I hope this helps a little!


  • I’m glad this helped, Pepper! I hope you’re enjoying the summer and having your own kind of fun. =)

  • Br

    YES. Man, thanks a ton for this! What clicked for me was missing out on the things I do love to do while 1) worrying about shoulds, 2) doing the unnecessary shoulds! Sometimes I face this exact dilemma and you sold your solution to me, it’s so full of love to oneself and so accepting who you are.

  • You’re most welcome! I’m glad this helped you let go of those pesky shoulds. =)

  • ifoolb

    I thought this over again after reading the post and I thought it is actually just a matter of choice. When you decided to do something then you gave up something else at the same time. You went hiking and then you didn’t take part in conferences. In my case I learn things which I think I should learn and I like, and then I fall behind in my classes. I must realise that I can’t have a cake and eat it.

  • Mi Ho

    Hi name is Mimi and I’m 15 years old. your article is so much similar to mine. I’m in highschool and I’m pressured to do something I just don’t want to. in my club they want me to be an high officer and I truly don’t want to be in the club anymore and they are seniors so I’m like the successor basically. I know I don’t want this and I’m not happy with myself. Its a huge decision and responsibility for me. I’m just afraid that I’ll disappoint them. what do you think I should do in this situation? I really need help urgently. Also I’m an introvert as well!

  • Hi there,

    I think it’s wonderful that you don’t want to disappoint people, but if you put other people’s wants first, you’ll disappoint yourself. If you’re not happy and this isn’t for you, I say speak up. It may be scary, but it will be a good opportunity to practicing voicing what you want–something you’ll need to do many times in life. They may be disappointed, but they will respect that you’re doing what’s best for you.

    Good luck!


  • Matej Koyš

    I see I´m not the only one feeling so.. Thank you Lori, this post quiet opened my eyes.
    We should really do what feels right to us. A few months ago a got an offer from a MLM company which deals with coffee and I really liked that idea. And also the psychology behind it, that we do what we are most afraid of at first so you later can do what you like and enjoy. But at a certain point you find out, that you not just dislike but really hate it and that´s a clear signal. Opportunities come and go. I am also introvert as many of you, but that´s not a handicap, vice versa.. Hi, I am Matej and I want to be a great architect!
    I am really looking forward to hear more from you.

  • Hi Matej,

    It’s nice to e-meet you! And you’re most welcome. I’m glad this was helpful to you. =)


  • Svetlana

    Have you ever watched a movie that you didn’t want to?

  • Zara Seewonder

    Thank you for this! I feel like I need to do a certain action to get me to a certain place but I feel so constricted and so closed off, I don’t even know if it’s the right action. I gotta go do something else.

  • Jon

    This article found me at the perfect time. I’m glad I found it. Thank you for sharing your perspective. 🙂 it was reassuring for me to validate myself and how I feel and what I want to do.

  • You’re most welcome, Jon! Glad this was helpful to you. =)

  • Jon

    I have musician colleagues who put on concerts and ask me to come. I love them, but at the same time, don’t always particularly enjoy sitting through concerts. Perhaps it has a fear of commitment and inability to escape shadow, but if I were being honest, concerts aren’t my favorite, low resistance activity in terms of solo recitals. Hi, I am Jon, and I don’t particularly enjoy going to concerts, especially long ones where sitting is involved. 🙂 Blessing and discovery and peace for all.

  • Anna B

    I really needed this today! I am a first-year at a really huge university and they always say you need to network to “get somewhere.” I kind of got myself into government and now I realize it’s not something I want. I don’t want to have to “make myself known” so that I can get positions. Truth be told, I like being on the DL and just doing things that involve helping other people. Like you mentioned, I felt conflicted because I feel like I need to be super involved and socialize, etc. esp. with others pressuring me to run for senate and such but…sometimes you just have to listen to that little inner voice that tells you what’s right for you. 🙂 Thank you!

  • Juliana Morales

    Great post. A nice swift reminder for me to get to know myself once more. And set some boundaries to better preserve my energy for the things that truly matter.

  • Thanks Juliana. I’m glad this was helpful to you!

  • Aryan

    Hello. Thank yo so much for this post. It is truly inspiring but I still am not able to make a strong decision. For example, I wanted to start a business. I already am blessed with a small family business which I can carry on and explore more into it. But at the same time I want to start my own business from scratch and I have all the materials and things I require to do that but I still am not able to make that choice. I don’t know what concerns me the most. Fear, responsibility, people around me want to carry on the family business and so I am scared what would happen if i start from scratch and fail. My heart tells me to do what I had in mind but the logical and practical choice would be to go with my family business. This is a do or die situation cause I’ve spent over 6 years preparing for this and now I have to make a choice. I don’t know what to do. Kindly help me if you can. Thank you.

  • Tom Philbin

    nice and short you wrote.
    my feelings of guilt for living an inauthentic life? like an existential crisis… or mentally imprison myself and cannot get interested in completing 2 years left of a 4 year art sculpture degree, a 9 month old baby daughter 4000 miles away I see couple times a year. the instincts are so against the rigid doing what I am told, like being back in school and im 30. if I don’t do the degree I wont have a degree, even if im against the institution. her mother took me to heaven 2 weeks after my insticts strongly told me to not go any further with her, maybe life just throws whatever you deserve at you, ironically I am my life experience all I conceive, instinct v higher self sometimes v lessons higher self dish out v none of this is real, pains an illusion, everything you make you make. sucks being oneself, because everybody is different and can never live anothers life or tell them they might be doing wrong, having to learn hard. why do I ask for it, deep psychological more than higher plans from the above self. I cried when I re read this as Alice in Chains played Your Decision background. no much catharasis, thanks

  • respected person

    Hi lori,
    Just wanted to ask, what if I have to choose between my natural instinctive preference and someone else’s happiness, somone who is very much dear to me ? What should I do then?

  • It’s somewhat difficult to say, since I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation. But I can say this: I have, at times, done things I didn’t want to do because I knew it would bring someone else happiness. The question I ask myself is: Will I have to sacrifice my needs to do this? If not, then oftentimes it’s worth it. It really depends on the situation,

  • ace

    me too, I like to interact if i go to an event, not be a static audience watching someone else enjoy themselves

  • ace

    Thanks for that!
    just because you could do something doesnt mean you have to…, and if you dont want to do events dont do them……yeah!

    the main thing is to always be prepared for someone to step up out of the blue ready to carve up and steal your time so you gotta be ready and loaded with your own escape phrase at all times because you never know when its going to be needed…

    thats what got me for so many years is I wasnt prepared so i got roped into doing lots of stuff that I really didnt want to when I was just out there being alone, enjoying myself, others really see this as doing nothing and time that they can hack into and take and that you are obligated to give, but it just aint so, if you stick to your own convictions, but YOU have to do it because no one else is gonna, they are gonna try and rope you in and tie you up tight

  • Black Bart

    Hi Ace! I couldn’t agree more. Here I am 3 years later and that business I started has flourished, my wife and I are having a baby, and have bought a house! Life opens up to you when you follow YOUR inner compass. No reasons and no explanations necessary! Something else we’ve cut out are big family gatherings. My extended family has many people with abrasive personalities. For years Ive attended events that have been no fun to attend. Besides the only time I see my extended family is Christmas Easter and Thanksgiving. We have no real contact outside of that and in truth know very little of one another’s lives. So, last year my wife and I stopped going to these dinners. We would rather create our own traditions with people we value and who value us back. Cutting these dinners out has been wonderful because I am not pretending anymore…. pretending to care or force conversation. I can give my child her own special days as she grows up. Good luck Ace and keep following your heart. It has all the right answers for you.

  • ace

    yes you are strengthening yourself and child by not feeling an obligation to be downgraded and criticized by unpleasant relatives at family gatherings, and also letting those relatives know that their behavior is really not ok and you are NOT obligated to endure it. Last year I spent Christmas day alone enjoying some nature and quiet and Christmas eve together walking around the neighborhood with some good friends, looking at the neighborhood decorations in the starry night and skipped the stifling relatives and it was the warmest holiday I’ve ever, actually enjoyed.

  • Black Bart

    That sounds really nice. These are the kinds of traditions I want to start with my wife and daughter. Simple things. Viewing the Nativity in the town square or walking in the snow. Quiet and relaxed stuff. I am sure as time goes on, my wife, daughter, and I will come up with nice ways to spend the time on those days. My brothers are great guys. One is married. One other will be soon I think. The 3rd brother moved across the country but he visits. I suspect we will remain tight as we move on into our 40s and 50s. That nucleus will be a source of tradition and togetherness as well. Thanks for the nice dialog Ace. It is really nice to have this opinion validated. I had to fight hard for my few square feet of land, modest house, and small family. It is nice to meet someone who gets it. Peace.

  • lyn Hazleton

    I have a dilemma with the should v want theme. I have an uncle (by marriage to my aunty who is my blood relative) who I feel I should go and visit but I really don’t want to. Since my aunty died in 2012, I have kept in touch and visited my uncle a 2/3 times a year (he lives about 2 hours away). The truth is that I don’t really like him, but feel I should go and see him now he is on his own (my aunty and uncle have no children). Do you have any words of wisdom to share please? Thank you.

  • Matt

    Totally sums up my life right now, and reading this has relieved my anxiety somewhat. I’m working as a project manager in public health, and while I acknowledge the importance and brilliant work this field occupies, for me it is painful. I have to cold call people, arrange and facilitate meetings, feign interest in social justice etc. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just not for me.
    I’m completely introverted and prefer to work alone (I’m as INTP as they come if you prescribe to MBTI) with a background in English and Drama.
    Anyway, thanks for the article!

  • You’re most welcome, Matt. I’m the same! I’m glad this was helpful to you.