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Have you ever had the feeling that you’re the odd one out?
Or the haunting sensation you are not “normal”?
There is a common misconception that being an introvert is a weakness.
That introverts are misanthropes, socially awkward, and shy.
That to succeed in life, we need to become…someone who we are not.
An introvert is someone who becomes energised from being alone and loses energy in stimulating environments.
Dear introverts: our introversion is not something that needs to be “fixed.”
But I get that it feels this way.
We carry the searing scars of loneliness, letdowns, and awkward silences.
We feel like something was missed when we came into the world.
We are always searching for the feeling of coming home.
We can feel all this, show up to the world as our authentic selves, and be successful.
In whatever way success means for us.
The secret is self-awareness.
Discovering who we are and how we show up to the world. Introvert. Empath. Career-oriented. A family person.
Sometimes these labels we assign to ourselves can hold us back. Other times, they can set us free.
We can be introverted and successful in our careers. An introvert involved with lots of communities. An introvert with a large family.
The power comes from knowing how to adapt to the situation.
To take a moment to observe what a particular setting needs, then applying our skills and knowledge.
Without changing who we are.
This can look like:
>> Taking charge of how we communicate with people. Learning how to set boundaries. Being clear if we have a preference for writing over speaking.
>> Finding ways to preserve our need for space. Scheduling in time to recharge.
>> Attending an event early and leaving early before our energy is drained.
Our introverted strengths
Knowing, embracing, and leveraging our strengths help reaffirm the feeling that there is nothing wrong with us.
Perhaps you’re a good problem-solver. Us introverts have the ability to intensely focus on a challenge for a long period of time. An introvert’s brain is often a flurry of activity in the frontal cortex: the primary place for complex mental activities.
Perhaps you’re a good listener. Being quiet by nature has a certain advantage in conversations. We carefully soak in all the information and opinions, think about it, and offer a thoughtful answer. In fact, this is partly why introverts can become great leaders.
Perhaps you’re excellent at expressing yourself through writing. If given a choice, a lot of introverts prefer to share ideas in writing rather than speech. We tend to need time to think before answering a question, or even mentally rehearse what we want to say. Being slow to respond to questions or comments isn’t a fault. It’s how our brains work.
When we know what we’re good at, the whole world opens up to us.
Nurturing our strengths
Know that showing up to life as our true selves will look different to extroverts.
The key distinction here is different. Not wrong. Or weird. Or odd. Just different.
We may need to communicate our thought process to give us time to think. If you need to ponder, say so. “This is really interesting. I need to think about it for a few moments before I can share something of value. Keep going and I’ll have a think.” It’s normal to feel strange telling people you’re thinking. Strange, and incredibly liberating. We’re not being slow, we’re digesting information.
We may need to input an extra 10 percent of energy to be the best version of our introverted selves. To do research before reaching out to someone to form a new connection. To go to meetings prepared, and making sure to share our thoughts, even if it’s in a summary email afterward. To make promises and follow through with them.
We may need to prepare in advance for a loud and noisy world. Sometimes, a situation calls for us to be our most extroverted selves. We can prepare for this in advance by boosting our energy levels. Introverts tend to say less but when we do, we can make a strong impact.
Dear Introverts, there is nothing wrong with us.
No matter what is happening in your life, know that you are wonderful—just the way you are.
I see you in all your quiet strength.
And one day, you’re going to fall in love with the person you’ve become.
But until then, you are exactly where you are meant to be.
Your lovely, introverted self, scars and all.