Ever been told you needed to come out of your shell? Accused of being a hermit? Admonished for not having a good time? I feel your pain.
It’s not easy being an introvert in a noisy world, but we’ve got gifts. Dare I say superpowers? Okay, maybe it’s a little premature to get out the tights and cape, but there are advantages to being introverted. I recommend snagging a copy of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. While some of her heroes wouldn’t necessarily be mine, I found most of what she had to say on the topic of introverts enlightening as well as empowering.
Maybe you’ve compared yourself to extroverts so long you have a difficult time finding any of your characteristics as gifts. Let me help you out. Here is my short list:
Good listener. So maybe we don’t have bubbly personalities. (Who wants to be bubbly, anyway?) Those who like to talk a lot also like to be heard, which makes the one who corners you at the party happy. Introverts tend to remember the little things from a conversation, such as birthdays or the name of the boss’s grandson and how he spells it with a “k” instead of a “c.” These details make people feel heard and appreciated, especially when brought out in future conversations. It’s the introvert’s edge in human relations, which demonstrates a warm and caring nature.
Detailed thinker. It’s the little things I mentioned above. We see what others overlook in their haste to finish a task. Often we process slower, but much deeper, taking those details and giving fresh insight and a different perspective that others completely miss. The challenge for us, though, is to speak up and share these insights.
Independent worker. We’re self-starters, and we don’t require handholding to finish a project. As a matter of fact, looking over our shoulder is likely to annoy us. And, by all means, do not put us in group settings. We thrive best when we work alone.
Creative type. Artists, writers, inventors–creative types are often introverts. Maybe it’s that fresh, detailed perspective that makes us see the world differently and gives us an artistic bent. Whatever it is that causes introverts to be creative, we bring that trait to the table and value to our work.
Loyal friend. I have precisely a dozen contacts on my cell phone–eight family members, three friends, and one acquaintance. Not exactly what you’d call Miss Popularity, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We introverts are a selective bunch. We don’t give our hearts away to everyone, but when we do, the lucky recipient has a loyal friend.
While my list is certainly not exhaustive, I hope to inspire my fellow introverts to see their great potential and value. Be who you are and be proud of it.