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I dropped off my son at the university this week.  This can be a very difficult experience for the parents.  It made me think of my own college experience.  I was happy to be out on my own, however, I was just starting to get to know myself and as I think back it would have been a different experience if I had understood myself and my introversion better.  Understanding my personality now allows me to make changes in how I do things, and how I approach situations.  There are great gifts that come from introversion. I wish I had understood these things when I was in college, but I am happy I do now. 


Books Referenced in this podcast: 

Laurie Helgoe“Introvert Power”

Get my book: 

Minding Your Time: Time Management, Productivity, and Success, Especially for Introverts

Contact the host of Quiet and Strong :

David Hall
Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster
quietandstrong.com
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david@quietandstrong.com

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Podcast Transcript

Ep. 34 – What I Wish I Had Known About Introversion Before College

Hello, and welcome to the Quiet and Strong Podcast, Especially for introverts.  I am your host, David Hall and creator of quietandstrong.com.  This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally we will air each episode on Mondays.  Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. 

I dropped off my son at his university this week.  This can be a very difficult experience for the parents.  I know he is going to do well and have a great time, but we are going to miss having him around on a daily basis.  It made me think of my own college experience.  I was happy to be out on my own.  College was much more fun to me than was high school. High school had a form of peer pressure that I was able to get away from and be more of myself in college.  However, I was just starting to get to know myself and as I think back it would have been a different experience if I had understood myself and my introversion better.  I was still a few years away from this understanding.  I did understand how to be a better student after a time.  This was partially understanding my introverted strengths and needs, but I didn’t have the name for it yet.

As I have studied introversion extensively over the years, both in myself and others, here’s my take on introversion:

I am naturally drawn to the inner world of ideas and have a great imagination

I spend more time in thought than I do focusing on the world around me. This means that I love to learn.  I love learning things that are interesting to me.  It did take a bit to learn to study.  This applies now as I believe in being a lifetime learner, learning things to improve my work life and my personal life continuously.

Sometimes I need some time alone to think and recharge. I have learned what causes my need for some solitude.  I moved into the dorms with a stranger.  A nice guy, but didn’t understand that sense of overwhelm when I needed to be alone and couldn’t find the space to myself. My next move was another shared room and I had the same issues.  I did finally realize that I would be better off with my own room.  I still lived with some close friends, but having my own room to retreat into was very helpful.  I was also close to some mountains and used that as an escape from time to time.  People might find it strange for someone to go off on a hike alone, but sometimes it was just what I needed.

I also prefer having a few deep relationships to many casual acquaintances. I did have a close group of friends that we would do many things together.  We had some good times.  However, sometimes having every meal at the dorms be a social occasion was tough.  Again at the time i didn’t understand that I need both good close friends and sometimes some space.

I now know that I do better when I prepare in advance for meetings, presentations, and speeches. When I figured this out for school, I did so much better having done the reading in advance.  I understood so much better and was much more likely to have something to contribute to the conversation.

Often I need time to process answers to questions, especially complex ones. Sometimes you just got to say let me think about that.

I think before I speak. I could now have much better conversations understanding how I communicate.  And I prefer deep conversations to small talk.  Small talk is necessary and important, but by itself is not my goal.  And that is ok

 Ultimately you have to decide who you will be.  

I went out to breakfast with a friend and we hadn’t been to this particular restaurant before, so while we were being seated, my friend asked our server, “What’s good?” The server proceeded to tell us her top three choices. As she left, I gave my friend a hard time, asking “how does this stranger know what you like?” When she came back we ordered, and when I didn’t order from her top picks she told me I would be sorry. The reality is I know what I like and when my food came, it was delicious. When she came around to check in on us, she made an extra point to ask if mine was okay, as if she expected me to send it back. To me, this was funny. I have been around long enough to know what I like. But I won’t presume to tell you what you like, because, for some reason we all have different tastes—in foods and in many other things.

Sometimes it feels like this with social events, like it does now and when I was back in college. Just like the server who assumed that because she liked something I’d like it too, our friends and associates also assume that we will like what they like. We hear people tell us “You will have fun at this party” or “If you don’t go you will miss out.” Or “This networking event will be good for you.” Or “What do you mean you are staying home on your vacation?”

Dr. Laurie Helgoe says,

“Extroverts want us to have fun, because they assume we want what they want. And sometimes we do. But “fun” itself is a “bright” word, the kind of word that comes with flashing lights and an exclamation point! One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of “fun” is “violent or excited activity or argument.” The very word makes me want to sit in a dimly lit room with lots of pillows — by myself.”

What is fun to you? What is right for you? You know what you think is fun and what you don’t. You don’t need someone else to define this for you. I am not saying that we should not try new things and change and expand our comfort zone from time to time, but I am saying it is silly to let someone else define for us what is fun. And this is individual, as no two people are alike. As an introvert I may think something is fun and a fellow introvert may not. I may like going to parties, but not as often as my friend. I may have another friend that doesn’t like to go to parties at all. You know yourself, so don’t let others define you.

Coming to understand what makes me an introvert has made all of the difference in the world for me. I used to have difficulty in some social situations, because I didn’t understand myself and somehow felt that I was “less-than”… But understanding who I am and how I naturally function frees me to be who I want to be. But my point is that no matter how comfortable I am in social situations and regardless of whether I am “quiet” in some settings, the things that make me an introvert will not change. What is at the core of my introversion is who I am. Understanding these things about my personality allows me to make changes in how I do things, and how I approach situations. By learning who I am I can learn the very best way to accomplish my goals. There are great gifts that come from introversion. I wish I had understood these things when I was in college, but I am happy I do now.  No matter where you’ve been you can now understand your gifts and also your needs. Let people know what those are.

Thank you so much for joining me.  I look forward to further connecting with you.  Reach out quietandstrong.com, david@.  I will add social media channels to the show notes. Please comment on the social media posts related to this podcast.  Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. So many great things about being an introvert and so we need those to be understood.  Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be Strong!

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