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I’m an introvert. A proud introvert. I wasn’t always — being hard on myself about why I wasn’t as outgoing or why I never blended in with big groups. But over the years I’ve learned that this personality trait has its own benefits. And it’s pretty misunderstood.
And that’s where the problems lies with introverts — people don’t know what it exactly is and how you can see your introversion as strength rather than a burden.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN INTROVERT
Let me get this out of the way straightaway: being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re shy. It simply has to do with how you get recharged. Introverts recharge by being alone and extraverts get energy from being with people. You also have ambiverts. They simply recharge by being alone and being with people. Most people are ambiverts.
With that being said, yes most introverts tend to be shy and most extraverts tend to be outgoing. It has been researched and both introverts and extraverts love being around people and talkative. However, introverts can get overstimulated which is why they retreat to quieter places to reflect.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE AN INTROVERT
So why is it great to be an introvert? Well, surprisingly, we are good at giving speeches and presentations — even if we don’t feel like we do. We’re good listeners which give us an advantage in many situations. Because we think before we speak, it’s easier to get to the bottom of a problem or negotiation. And we’re often better leaders. Famous introverts include J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, Audrey Hepburn and it’s speculated that Barack Obama also belongs to our club.
From personal experience I’ve always been most comfortable in a leader role. I’m an advice giver. I’m more of a thinker and listener than a doer. Although I try to change that when it comes to my work and taking opportunities. I’m definitely not into anything with heights and speed like rollercoasters or sky diving — I would rather die. I don’t do well in open space offices. I love working alone, which was a bit of thing at one of my previous jobs but I did get the space for it. I’m creative and have a very imaginative inner world. Because I’m more of a thinker I’m also really good at creating strategies.
I do love being with people — mostly smaller groups — and I am somewhat social but I need my alone time to recharge and reflect.
INTROVERT VS EXTRAVERT
Still I don’t think one or the other is better. Both an introvert and extravert have great qualities. It’s just about accepting that as an introvert, you can also bring a lot to the table. Even if it sometimes seems like the world is telling you don’t.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen companies asking for extraverts and I think that’s such a shame. I think companies can benefit from a balanced workplace with introverts and extraverts. Because they strengthens each other. There is no introvert vs extravert because you need both. It’s just a little unfortunate that most people in life are focused on being an extravert.
Being an introvert is great. You should take pride in it. You have many wonderful and needed skills. Just be confident in being an introvert.