As a child growing up in the United States, I learned quickly that society catered to those who were outspoken, assertive, and thrived on social interaction. We are a nation that values leadership and standing out from the crowd above all else. But what about the quiet, reflective types like myself? Where do we fit in in all of this?
Knowing that I didn’t have the ideal American personality type was a blow to my self-esteem as a teenager. I didn’t like crowds, socializing for extended periods of time, speaking in front of audiences, and I just couldn’t seem to project my voice loudly enough for people to take me seriously. In fact, I spent most of my time listening and observing those around me as opposed to speaking. It was my preferred method of interpreting what was going on around me, so why did I feel like some freak show struggling to be like everyone else?
I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t come to terms with who I am until only a few years ago. I began reading up on introversion vs. extroversion and that’s when it all started to make sense to me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert! In fact, there are so many wonderful things about it that I hadn’t even realized.
We often think before we speak. Even more so than our extroverted counterparts because we spend more time in our heads analyzing every minuscule detail . Everything we say is carefully chosen to meet the needs of those around us so we have less cases of embarrassing “word vomit.” Unless, of course, we’ve had a few too much to drink (but that’s another story).
We are masters of concentration. Introverts spend a lot of time alone and need less outside stimulation to feel their best, which makes us great at locking ourselves in our rooms and focusing on something for extended periods of time. As a student of accounting, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stay focused on a project/assignment for up to 6 hours or more without missing a beat.
People love to talk to us. The one benefit to being naturally quiet and soft-spoken is that we’ve had an entire lifetime to refine our listening skills! Have you ever met someone that constantly talked over you and made you feel like you could barely get your two-cents in? Well, introverts love to observe and process information, which makes us some of the easiest people to spill your guts to. I used to love playing therapist with my friends growing up because it satisfied my need to learn about my environment and made people trust me almost instantly. ‘Til this day, I can get people to open up to me because of my natural inclination to absorb information and listen to what others have to say.
We exude calm. Introverts often seem composed because they’re able to retreat safely into the stability of their inner world. No matter what’s happening on the outside, our minds are our refuge from chaos. Thanks to the unique mechanics of our brains, we also have a tendency to be more risk averse than our outgoing counterparts, which means we are always prepared. And we all know preparation is key to avoiding stressful situations.
We’re quiet. We may not show up to every neighborhood barbecue, but you can definitely count on us to keep the peace. There’s nothing worse than living next to loud, party animals (trust me, I know). Let’s be real, who wants to come home from a long day and hear the people next door causing a ruckus?
As you can see, being an introvert has its perks and I’m learning to appreciate them more each day. Our extroverted friends have their own special place in this world thanks to their natural talents, so why shouldn’t we? For every leader out there, the world needs just as many (if not more) people working quietly (and diligently) behind the scenes to plan out the logistics and make things happen. It takes all kinds of people to make this world go ’round so if you’re a fellow introvert, wear that badge with pride because you are awesome in your own special way. 🙂