I’m gonna get a little vulnerable with you today…
Why? Because I believe everybody has a story to tell and if that story can help at least one person in a similar situation that you were once in, then you owe it to them to share it.
You see, it took me a while to be comfortable with who I am.
For a long time I felt like there was something wrong with me.
I didn’t always want to be around people.
I didn’t always have something to say.
I was always the ‘shy’ kid…
Even at a young age I was a silent one. To the point where my mum got me evaluated to see if I was deaf… True story haha.
Anyway, I always envied the people that could float around the room and be the light of the party.
The one’s that could get asked a question in class and not go bright red.
The one’s that could start talking and capture everyone’s attention.
I’m not joking when I say I am the quite the opposite of these people.
There’s been times when I’ve been at parties or get togethers and pretend I need to go to the bathroom because I feel so awkward standing around not talking to anyone.
There’s been countless times my face heats up and my ears burn when I get called on by a lecturer in class.
And then there’s the moments when I start a sentence only to be cut off by someone louder and more charismatic, unnoticed by anyone in the room.
I don’t share this for sympathy. There is a point to it, which I’ll get to in a moment.
It wasn’t until I was around 16 or 17 that I came across the ‘personality categories’ of extroversion and introversion.
It was a relief in a way because I guess I had a label for myself and it meant I wasn’t the only one!
But then on I went to university to study my business management degree with the hopes of one day being a CEO or an owner of my own business.
This was when I really started to doubt my abilities.
All the traits successful business people seemed to have were the complete opposite of me!
I remember in class we summarised the characteristics of CEOs. The answers:
Assertive, charismatic, good communicators, results driven… Basically a load of extrovert qualities.
It really made me question whether or not I could be successful. I didn’t have any of these qualities.
I was a passive person and the thought of small talk made me cringe.
Did this mean I would just wind up in low-tier jobs taking orders from someone else my whole life?
It became obvious that the word ‘introvert’ had a negative connotation to it. It’s seen as a less desirable and inferior trait to have.
For example, one day a lady I knew introduced me to her son… “Hannah, this is my son (name)…. He’s an introvert.”
She said it in a way that she felt like she had to explain why he might be a little quieter or a little stand-offish. Like she needed to let me know it wasn’t her fault he was a little different.
I’m not gonna lie, my respect for her went down a little after that haha.
Another example… I named my brand ‘Intrepid Introvert’ because well, that’s pretty much what I am right? I travel the world and I’m happily introverted, plus it’s got a ring to it.
Someone says to me, why would you want to call yourself that? Why not call yourself ‘Intrepid Kiwi’ or ‘Intrepid Spirit’?
I just ignored that.
I didn’t want to accept the fact that being introverted was a bad thing. I felt like so many people like myself were misunderstood.
We’re classed as the bitches, the snobs, the rude, the weirdos, the loners.
So I started on a book search (how ironic) of any research done about introversion and extroversion.
There was one that stood out among the rest…. ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain.
This book basically allowed me to understand myself and in turn, accept myself in a world where extroversion reigns supreme.
She had countless cases where introverts were the pioneers of huge organisations and movements but always flew under the radar.
Steve Jobs wouldn’t have Apple without Steve Wozniak…
Martin Luthar King Jr wouldn’t have had such a strong movement without the passive Rosa Parks…
Ghandi was even introverted!
These inspirational quiet ones often remain unheard of… But that doesn’t mean they don’t have power within themselves to do great things and impact people and the world.
Introverts have just as much a place in the world as anyone else.
We just need to be aware of what allows us to be our best selves.
As Cain puts it, “The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
I love this quote.
It’s more important for you to understand yourself than for others to understand you.
If you’re an introvert and reading this, chances are you can relate to this and have gone through the things I shared in this post. If that’s the case, definitely check out Susan Cain’s book, I guarantee it will blow your mind!
Feel free to connect with me through this page too!
Hannah – Intrepid Introvert