I am an introvert.
For most of my life, I would’ve felt embarrassed to admit that.
Society is massively skewed to favour extroversion, which can leave us introverts feeling like we’re simply not ‘good enough’.
Introversion is so often seen as a person lacking something. A person having fewer social skills, or not wanting their voice to be heard.
This could not be further from the truth.
I imagine that as a more extroverted person, it’s hard to imagine what being an introvert is like. For me, it’s an intense awareness of everything I’m doing and saying. I am engaged in a constant dialogue, only my dialogue is within my own head.
I speak slowly because I will never say anything without thinking about it first – even when I’m with friends. The thought of being around people for long periods of time is daunting – not because I don’t enjoy it, it’s just that the energy expenditure is so huge.
Someone I was speaking too recently explained introversion/extroversion, and how to figure out which you are very well. All you have to do is think about where you get your energy from. Which recharges you most – spending time with others, or being alone?
As human beings, we need social interaction, myself (the most introverted of introverts) included. I can enjoy being with people and socialising, it’s just that I can only take so much of it before I need to retreat and gather my thoughts.
I’ve always been in a bit of a battle with my introversion. Our whole life and especially through school, we’re subtly (and not so subtly) taught that extroversion is what we should be striving towards. Think the constant emphasis on group work and speaking and listening skills. These are always portrayed as being the most important skills a person can possess.
I recently watched the TED talk ‘The Power of Introverts’, recommended to me by a careers advisor, and it really helped me come to accept my introversion.
Introverts are powerful in so many ways and have a whole host of strengths.
For example, introverts tend to be:
- Independent (and excellent independent workers)
- Good thinkers/problem solvers
- Good listeners
- Good at written communication
- Loyal friends
- People who exude calm
- Highly Perceptive
Introverts truly are powerful, we’re just quieter about it. Remember this the next time your introverted colleague/classmate is sat in the corner being spoken over. They probably have some of the best and most well thought-out ideas in the room, all because their mind is much louder than their voice.
Different people work in different ways, and I think we should be striving towards an environment which allows everyone to embrace and nurture their own strengths, rather than fitting into societies set of ‘ideals’.
Because introverts deserve to showcase their full potential, too.