An Introvert’s Inner Strength

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I grew up on a dirt road with folks who didn’t put much stock in things like personality tests or personal growth. It was more of a say-yes-ma’am-and-go-to-church kind of upbringing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it gave me a good foundation on which to stand.

Now, removed from that environment as a 30-something professional, I do regret not knowing my temperament at an earlier age. For a very long time I thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t want to attend parties and got anxiety over certain social situations. As it turns out, there isn’t anything wrong with me, I’m just introverted.

Our culture tends to put value on traits typically exhibited by extroverts leaving introverts to feel alone and broken. We’re not broken, we just function differently. Not sure which one you are? There is test after test online, but here’s the short version. Answer this question as truthfully as you can. Not how you think you should answer. Is your ideal night: at a huge party with lots of people and non-stop fun OR home alone reading a book or out with one other person you feel very close with? If the latter is your idea of a dream night, you’re an introvert. This doesn’t mean you’re shy or withdrawn, it just means you receive your energy from your internal world vs. the external world the way an extrovert would. Being introverted in an extroverted society can be difficult, but here are some tips to help an introvert navigate even the choppiest extroverted waters.

Own your introversion

There are still a large number of extroverts who don’t believe in introversion. How could someone not love a great party or being around all their friends all the time? It’s 100% okay to tell people you are an introvert and explain what that means. Always be honest with yourself and with others. If you continue to use excuses over honesty, people will see through it and take your need for downtime as snootiness. When you’re at the end of your introverted rope and can’t even imagine attending yet another office get-together or night out with the gang, speak up. Let them know that while you enjoy their company, your brain needs time to reset – but you want to hear all about it tomorrow!

Observe the three Ps!

I recently completed ‘The Introvert Advantage’ by Marti Olsen Laney and I highly recommend this book for Innys, as she calls them, and those who love them. It explains a lot about an Inny’s temperament and how to cope with the world at large by embracing who we truly are. I learned a lot about myself and how to manage my internal energy. Things I tended to dread before (parties, work events) can now be an enjoyable experience. My biggest take away has been to focus on the three Ps: Personal Pacing, Priorities and Parameters. Don’t allow your day to be dictated by the pace of an extroverted environment. Only open and honest communication with your manager should establish your duties and expectations. Recognize your priorities and focus on how you will accomplish them utilizing your strengths (e.g. ability to focus, natural creativity) and learn when and how to say no.

Learn to love extroverts for who they are!

The more you understand something, the easier it is to accept it. Your extroverted friends and coworkers mean well. They aren’t plotting a personal vendetta against you because they plan a happy hour every week. To them, the more really is the merrier. If you see their extroverted traits as strengths, they can often prove to be an introvert’s secret weapon. They can speak up when we can’t and advocate for us when we won’t.

So, which one are you? Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you think this temperament directly affects your daily life? Leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

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