If you’re an introvert, socializing might not be your strong suit. And that’s okay. But interacting well with people is the key to fulfillment in dating, friendships, and work.

Wes Colton, here, founder and coach with Introvert Unbound.

So what does it mean to be an “Introvert Unbound?”

See, we introverts draw our energy from being alone or in small groups. It doesn’t mean we hate people, it’s just that if we’re around too many others for too long, we feel drained.

The brains of introverts are different from those of extroverts. With more gray matter–the part associated with abstract thinking and decision-making–we’re literally deeper thinkers.

Introverts also require less dopamine–the happy chemical that squirts into our bloodstream when we get excited–than extroverts, who have a higher tolerance for it. Satisfied with little drips of the stuff, we introverts don’t need to jump headfirst into reckless escapades to feel stimulated. In fact, too much of that can be unpleasant, like overdosing on a drug.

While this measured, thoughtful approach to life means introverts make some of the most valuable contributions to society and can be extraordinary friends and partners, it can also be an obstacle to socializing, where self-expression is the name of the game.

“Great,” you may be thinking, “but what the heck does any of this have to do with making my life better?”

Okay, here it is: For better or for worse, humans are social creatures. It’s true that introverts like us treasure the time we spend alone exploring our internal landscapes. But to be truly happy we also have to find where we fit into society.

Believe it or not, the best way to find your place in the world is by putting yourself out there, sharing the fruits that grow from the rich soil of your deep-thinking introvert mind.

It may sound counterintuitive, but by jumping in the driver’s seat in a social situation and steering it in the direction you’d like it to go, you actually hold onto your energy better than being held hostage as a passenger and watching the world go by.

Naturally, this doesn’t mean you should flail around like a dancing monkey desperately trying to get everyone’s attention and praise. This isn’t about faking it, or trying to be someone you’re not. Being an introvert is truly a gift in so many ways, and it’s not something you need to “fix.”

Instead, you take on the calm assertiveness of a gorilla, whose presence radiates authority. When you speak, do so freely and with conviction, knowing what you have to say matters and that others will listen (and if not, who cares?). You don’t talk just to please people, nor do you say things to deliberately offend. You’re energized yet relaxed, earnest yet amused.

“Fine,” you say, “but how does being assertive change anything?”

First of all, you feel better about yourself. Chances are, you get the sense that something’s holding you back in life and keeping you from reaching your potential.

Once you decide to be who you truly are, you’ll realize you’re the one preventing your inner self from shining.

Second, people will behave differently around you. Some of the most common qualities of introverts—intelligence, compassion, humility—are also among the most admired attributes in society. But unless you put yourself out there, people have no way of knowing this about you.

In order to achieve fulfillment in life, you’re going to have to give yourself permission to be awesome. Strangely enough, that’s the hardest part. But once you convince yourself of your excellence, others will know it, too.

The three pillars of Introvert Unbound are DATING, FRIENDS, and WORK. You may be further along in one area than another, but the ultimate goal is to achieve balance amongst all three, a condition best described as INTEGRITY, the “state of being whole and undivided.”

The funny/sad thing is that most people don’t want success. Sure, they may wish things were easier, but when it comes down to it, they’re not actually willing to do what they know they need to for things to change.

Lots of people hate the fact that they’re miserable, but because it’s familiar to them, it’s a lot less frightening than the uncertainty that comes with change. But, as French author André Gide wrote, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.”

If you’re one of the few who isn’t afraid to embark on that journey, congratulations! That means you’re already an Introvert Unbound. Now it’s simply a matter of unlocking your potential.

And I, Wes Colton, introvert coach, am someone who can help you leverage your strengths, overcome your obstacles, and become the Introvert Unbound!