Being An Introvert. In An Extroverted World.
I’m often met with shock & disbelief when I tell people that I’m an introvert…
“I find that hard to believe…”
“But you speak so confidently!”
“You don’t seem shy or soft spoken though?”
“Your blue hair is so bold.”
“You seem to love being around people.”
“How do you public speak?”
“But you talk on videos…”
“You have great energy!”
“I’m an introvert & could never do what you do…”
I get these statements all the time & it's so fascinating to me because I’m exceptionally 150% introverted… and introversion has nothing to do with any of those statements. In fact, some people say it as if it's a compliment to be an extrovert instead of an introvert… They’ll be like:
“OMG I totally did not get the vibe that you’re an introvert, GREAT job!”
Another one I'd often get my entire life is:
"You seemed so stuck up but now that I've gotten to know you, I was so wrong & you're incredibly down to earth!"
Uhhh... Thanks? I think... Since when does being quiet and intentional with my words instead of rhyming off everything on my mind result in being "stuck up"?
Haha… can anyone relate?
Before I begin to share what it means to be introverted in an extroverted world, I just need to preface this with saying that I’m not offended at all by these statements. It takes much more than that to offend me…haha! But in all seriousness, I don’t blame anyone for thinking those statements either, it totally makes sense & I can see why people might make those assumptions. This is exactly what inspired me to write a blog on this topic.
Let me begin by saying what it means to be introverted or extroverted:
Introverts get energized by being alone. Being around other people or in highly stimulating environments (think parties, networking events etc) drains their energy. How quickly their energy gets drained or recharged will vary significantly depending on the person and how much time they dedicate to ‘recharging’ their energy.
Extroverts on the other hand, are the exact opposite where they get energized by being around other people or in highly stimulating environments (such as parties, networking events etc) & being alone actually drains their energy.
That’s what it means to either be Introverted or Extroverted, so any other ‘assumptions’ or ‘stereotypes’ are simply personality traits or characteristics of people that really have nothing to do with being an introvert or extrovert. For example, a shy and soft spoken person can be an extrovert the same way that a confident and assertive person can be an introvert. Being shy, soft spoken or confident & assertive are personality traits and have nothing to do with whether or not a person's energy is being charged or drained via social environments.
I’m sensing a lot of “OOOOOHHHH’s” & “AHHHHHH’S” now that I’ve put this into a better context for you.
It’s okay, I didn’t know the differences between the two either for the longest time. In fact, I felt so confused most of my life because I was quiet…Until I had something I felt was important to say & then I’d say it with conviction & confidence. It always surprised a lot of people because they’d just assume because I was quiet it meant that I was shy or lacking confidence which couldn't have been further from the truth. I eventually found it extremely fun and hilarious to watch the expression on their faces change so quickly trying to ‘figure me out’.
The reality is, the world is set up to favor extroverts…If you choose to believe that. I choose to create my own reality & focus on how our differences are gifts when used as such. Out of curiosity, I just googled the estimated ratio of introverts to extroverts in the world and it says that it’s a 3 to 1 ratio of extroverts to introverts. Meaning there are supposedly more extroverts than introverts in the world. Maybe it’s true. Or, maybe people don’t really know themselves as well as they think they do.
Success, happiness & fulfillment favour both types of people… If you know how to harness your strength and use it to your advantage. Society likes for us to believe that being an extrovert is the ultimate key to those things, but society is wrong.
Being an introvert is a gift. Being an extrovert is a gift. But ultimately it doesn’t matter if you don’t know which one you are or how to manage your time & energy as each type.
Imagine a world without introverts? Ew, no. First of all, it’d be too loud, there’d be too much talking, not enough listening and no innovation. Introverts are innovators and creators. They sit with ideas in solitude long enough to come up with a better theory to do something. They question the reasons why we keep doing things the way we’ve always done them and wonder if there could be a better way. Being an introvert can be your biggest asset and greatest gift, if you accept that it’s who you are and know how to use it to your advantage.
Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Maybe, you originally thought you were one of the two only to read this blog and find out you’re actually the opposite of what you’d always thought? Maybe, you don’t know? Maybe, you’ve never heard of either before?
Finding out is simple. Answer this question to yourself:
How do you feel after going to a large gathering of people of whom you love to hang out and spend time with?
If you feel any of the following, then you’re an introvert:
Happy I went but definitely need to chill and do nothing tomorrow
It was so much fun, but I need to recharge
Had a blast with my friends but could really use some down time
If you feel any of the following, then you’re an extrovert:
Excited to do it again tomorrow
Looking forward to gathering with another large group of friends the following day
Like the night wasn’t long enough and you could’ve spent all night there
It’s ok to be completely honest with yourself and not to feel bad for what feelings arise from asking yourself that question. Often, as introverts we tend to feel a tinge of guilt from admitting that hanging out with people that we love is draining. Those feelings could be misunderstood as not enjoying time with friends or that we don’t love, respect and value them. Not true. Not true at all. It’s simply just how our bodies & minds handle an exchange of energy. Extroverts tend to handle it in a way that fuels them up and makes them feel alive. While introverts can feel grateful for the time with friends it’s still important to acknowledge that they’re tired or drained afterwards so that they can have quiet time to recharge.
Dear introverts, stop pretending that you're extroverts and start embracing what it is to truly be authentically yourself. The sooner you do this, the more alive you’ll feel and the more successful & fulfilled you’ll become. Nothing will drain the soul of an introvert faster than trying to blend in and fit into an extrovert world by attempting to “out-extrovert” the extroverts.
There is nothing wrong with you.
You are a gift to this world.
How to live a happy, successful & fulfilling life as an introvert:
Get rid of any pre-existing stigmas, beliefs or perceptions of what you previously thought it meant & scrap any characteristics that people had labelled you as.
Feel free to educate and correct anyone who characterizes you as something you’re not (in a kind and caring way, after all they don’t know any better).
Get a job that plays to your strengths. I cannot stress this enough because we spend a significant amount of time working and nothing will wear down an introvert quicker than working an extroverted job. Jobs that are not great for introverts involve anything customer service related, answering phones, retail, reception etc anything involving a significant amount of focus on dealing with people… Jobs that are great would be: computer & analytics, cake decorators (wink, wink), branding & marketing, creating (anything- art, content, writing), editing, writing, planning, anything behind the scenes or dealing with limited amounts of people.
Plan your schedule in a way that allows plenty of quiet time especially around any large gatherings or busy times. Do not plan your schedule in a way that you’re hanging out with people every single day, networking in between & going to multiple parties on weekends. How often you decide to incorporate socializing into your schedule depends on how much rest and recovery time you need. Everyone will be different but be mindful of not over-committing yourself.
Prioritize the things that give you energy and work them into every single day. This will be different for everyone but think of the things you love to do that give you energy and inspire you and be sure to do one of those things every single day. Minimum.
Do not feel obligated to explain yourself or why you are the way you are to anyone else. If you choose to do so, then it’s up to you. Of course it helps if you can give clarity to the people closest to you in your life so they have a general understanding but simply saying no to your co-worker who is begging you to do drinks with everyone after work is fine to simply say no to.
Create down time in your day, every day. If that means getting up an hour earlier and sipping a warm coffee by yourself while you reflect then do that. If it means you eat lunch at the park by yourself instead of at the lunch table with everyone else, then do that. Creating down time will give you the energy you need to make it through your day feeling happy.
Surround yourself with friends who are like-minded, positive & kind people. I cannot stress this enough. Everyone will not 'drain' you the same amount. Negative people have the power to drain the energy out of you in mere minutes. Heck, negative people drain the most extroverted extroverts! Finding quality people that you feel comfortable to be yourself around and who genuinely care about your best interest are imperative. You will feel much less drained. I promise. I did a 'friend purge' not too long ago and got rid of many dead-end friendship that were negative and unhealthy and found new people who light me up and add so much love and value to my life. It's been a game changers and I look forward to spending my time with them!
When I'm in my zone, living my best life and doing all my introverted things that light me up, I have so much energy that I could do them for hours and hours on end! It's not that introverts have less energy, it's that their energy gets filled and drained in different ways. Learning how to use this to your advantage will set you up for success!
Extroverts are amazing creatures. I truly admire their strengths and abilities. My husband is an extrovert and I love his enthusiasm and how fueled up he gets by talking and hanging out with people. It's admirable. But it's just not me. Loving each other for our strengths & not harping on each other for our weakness is one of the many keys to a happy relationship.
I hope this blog helped you to better understand yourself or a fellow introvert in your life!
If you enjoyed this blog, please leave me a comment and let me know.