Being an introvert is hard. I think even if the whole world were introverted, it would still be hard. Being an introvert with too many opinions is the worst thing. You know you don't have the courage to say them, but you know you can't live your whole life in a secret ditch, so you push yourself and your opinions right out of that comfort zone as fast as you can, before your tiny scrap of courage fails - and often before you've given those opinions a little sensible, calm consideration. Then you're left with not only having spoken up, but having done so in a way you're no longer sure you can support, and people are going to look at you, and think about you, and even if you do hide away in your ditch again you know they're still out there looking and thinking.
I've had people say to me, you can dole it out but can't take it yourself. To which my reply is, yes, that's exactly right! I can give my opinion because I'm trying with all my strength to be a normal participating member of society, because I'm educated and halfway intelligent and I do have opinions - and because I've lived silent on the edge of civilisation, literally, and know the shrivelling pain of that - but the truth is that it is frightening, and it almost always hurts on a physical level, to speak out at all, let alone to cope with answers.
That's why so many of the women in my stories are meek - or seem at first to be meek, until they turn (sometimes literally) into dragons and hellcats. Partly it's because I feel quiet, shy women are under-represented in the fantasy/mythic fiction genre, but partly it's because I can't imagine what it would be like to walk through the world with a perfect sense of ease and entitlement to be there. And that's not a psychological issue, it's an introvert thing.
Perhaps we introverts are actually fey in some manner - our mothers kissed by a fairy king while pregnant with us, or our own selves touched or danced with when we were children, or oak shadows fell into our father's eyes on the day of our conception and so we were born knowing the languages of wind and shadow and old earth dreams, and we don't really quite belong to this world at all.
It's going to be hard to post this, and I might take it away later and now you know why. But I will post it for the others of you out there whose mothers were also kissed by a beautiful, lithe-eyed king of the wild, and magic shivered on down into your soul, and now you feel the rose thorns that threaten to rise if you speak, the hard-edged diamonds, the snakes of ancient magic, and still you fear silence.
illustration by jessie m. king