Recently, I was talking to a friend and he said, “most people don’t know this, but I’m actually an introvert” – like it was a big secret he was trying to keep from others. Of course, I knew he was an introvert, and I recognized that he was successful largely in part because of his introverted strengths. Actually, I’ve actually heard several people “admit” to being an introvert lately, as if they were saying that being an introvert isn’t good enough, but that they could be successful at what they did DESPITE being an introvert – not BECAUSE of it.

Now, it’s true that sometimes it seems like we live in an extroverted world, where people are recognized and praised for being perceived as an extrovert, and having all the gifts that go along with that. But I’m here to tell you that being an introvert is truly something to be celebrated, and brings along its own array of amazing strengths and gifts. 

Never apologize for being an introvert.

INTROVERSION IS NOT SHYNESS

Here is one thing to remember about introversion. Introversion doesn’t mean you are shy. Shyness is really a level of confidence – sometimes this may be different in different situations, but you can always gain more confidence. Introversion is about how you interact with the world, process information, and gain energy, basically being more focused on the internal rather than the external stimuli. This focus brings great strengths and can help us be amazing – just as we are. 

INTROVERSION DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE BROKEN

As I work with authors, bloggers, and speakers, coaches who specialize in working with introverts, I hear over and over again that, before embracing their introversion, they thought that something was wrong with them, myself included. It is almost as if they are apologizing for their natural temperament. If I know them personally, I probably already know whether they are an introvert or extrovert, because I know what I am looking for. In fact, I’m so invested in helping introverts succeed that I created a whole podcast dedicated to that: The Quiet and Strong podcast is all about embracing introversion and understanding and honoring your needs.  Introversion comes to us very naturally and it is never something to be ashamed of. Be proud and don’t apologize.

I have learned there is nothing wrong with my Introversion, but what was wrong was my understanding of my Introversion. So don’t be sorry in any way, but rather continue to get to know yourself and your strengths and needs.  If you apologize it suggests that something is wrong with you and you need to change. There is nothing wrong with you but perhaps you need to increase your self-awareness.  

UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF IS KEY

For example, I used to get so nervous speaking in public when I first entered the workforce.  My knees would tremble, my voice would shake, my stomach would hurt, and my throat was dry. Have you ever felt this way?  I couldn’t help thinking, “What was wrong with me?” I had a passion for my work and as I moved up I had plenty of obligations and opportunities to present on work-related topics.  At the same time, I was getting to know myself and understanding my introversion.  Something that was critical was understanding how as an introvert I was a deep thinker. I realized that most of the time, as an introvert I needed to prepare ahead of time to have the words I wanted to say ready – not necessarily writing a script, but really outlining my thoughts and important points and having the details in my head.  This was life-changing for me.  

Preparation for the introvert is the answer!  I also figured out that I have no problem discussing areas where I am an expert and have given the topic much thought.  So there was nothing was wrong with me, but what was wrong was that I didn’t understand how important preparation in advance was for an introvert for speeches and presentations.  I have given many since then.  The nervousness is gone and I enjoy the experience.  I have also learned that as an introvert I need to give myself a break afterward.

GET TO KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

If you still feel like you need to apologize for being an introvert or if you are already on your journey to understanding your strengths and needs, you are in the right place.  My website, QuietandStrong.com, has around 200 blog posts.  I also wrote a book to help introverts succeed in time management called Minding your time: Time Management, Productivity, and Success, Especially for Introverts.  

There are many other helpful resources out there. For example, there are assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that specifically include introversion and extroversion and can help you understand yourself better. 

There are other assessments like Clifton Strengths or the Disc Personality Inventory that aren’t specifically about Introversion, but can be great tools for self-awareness.  These can be done alone, or individually with a coach, counselor, or other professional.  These can also be done as a workshop, maybe at work or in some other setting.  The workshop can be a great way to hear from others and how they articulate their strengths, while you grow by expressing yours. 

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING AN INTROVERT

There’s no is reason to apologize for who you are. You are you. You should celebrate this.  You are amazing. I’m definitely an introvert. I think sometimes this term can be problematic as it can be very misunderstood. Sometimes people use it with a negative connotation because they don’t understand. Introversion doesn’t hold you back. But not understanding it can.  It is not about excuses or limits, but understanding your own introversion will set you free to accomplish your goals.  I find this little exercise helpful – So can you describe your strengths without using the word introvert? Your needs without saying introvert? 

REDEFINE WHO YOU ARE BY CHANGING YOUR DEFINITION

Try this.  Again, our gifts will differ, and my examples may not all pertain to you.  You could say, I am a deep thinker, a creative problem solver, I do need some time to think through problems on a regular basis.  I need time to prepare my thoughts to prepare to present them.  I do need some quiet from time to time to recharge and regain my energy.

Or maybe, I am empathic and in touch with the feelings of others, I am a great listener and can sense and truly feel what others are feeling.  I use this gift to help people become aware of their great gifts and strengths.  I do need to be sure to take a break as I can get overwhelmed in the emotions of my work. Taking a walk outside alone is the best recharge for me.

Or, I’m artistic and creative and I see the world through a different lens than most others. I have a passion to use my creativity to share my views – whether that’s writing, painting, music, photography or some other art form. I can be misunderstood, and that is frustrating, but if I don’t create my art, I feel trapped. I enjoy time to myself to immerse myself in my art or the art of others, but this is what makes me strong.

Or, I’m strategic and analytical and I see connections in everything. I love the big picture and the details that make it happen. I like to design projects and help people utilize their own strengths as part of the project. I’m not always great at “working a room” but I am great at having big ideas and making them happen – especially leading a small team. I like having time to work out the details of a project, but after I’ve mapped out the plan, I also enjoy working with people to help the project come to life. 

EMBRACE YOUR INTROVERSION AND EMBRACE YOUR LIFE

Be yourself, using your strengths and honoring your needs. Are you happy? If so, that’s amazing.  If not, you can get there, but you’ll get there by getting to know yourself, not by trying to be somebody else.

Introverts, approach life boldly with your introverted strengths and gifts and take care of your introverted needs. You never need to apologize for being an introvert.

Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be Strong!

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