A personality test does not lie, especially when half a dozen of them agree: I am an introvert. In high school, I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself otherwise, refusing to come to terms with this reality.
I knew I would never be the loudest person in the room, especially because I spent a greater portion of my life surrounded by theater and speech and debate kids. Generally, a boisterous personality and an eagerness to participate in discussions are synonymous with being extroverted, while introverts are thought to be disinterested and standoffish. I wish I had learned earlier how to accept my introversion and use it to empower me. Being introverted isn’t really a choice, and understanding this is the first step to change the negative connotation.
Introverts are simply more reserved and prefer to keep thoughts to themselves. This is often associated with a fear of public speaking and a failure to vocalize opinions. An introverted leader seems to be an oxymoron, and I often think the foundations of leadership are pioneered against me. However, with age, I have learned how to leverage the advantageous characteristics of introversion.
INTROVERTS ARE GOOD LISTENERS
In a fast-paced world that cannot stop talking, the power of introverts should not be underestimated. They are often excellent listeners and reflect critically on what others have to say. This allows introverts to build connections and relationships that go beyond the surface level. This skill is especially useful in communications careers, like journalism and public relations. We all have one thing in common: We like to feel heard. Introverts listen with empathy, so they are intentional and diplomatic in what they say.
INTROVERTS OFFER GOOD ADVICE
Listening and offering sound advice go hand in hand. If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to pick you back up, your introverted friend could be the one to turn to. Despite being quieter, they are more attentive and remember the small details. These compassionate friends give the most honest advice.
INTROVERTS ARE OPEN-MINDED AND INTENTIONAL
Introversion also increases your chances to learn something new. As Larry King stated, “I remind myself every morning: nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
I try to use my reserved personality to my advantage to lead differently than my extroverted peers. Internal information processing allows me to hear, understand and carefully consider insight, making my words more powerful when I have something to say.
I wish I were more accepting of myself and my personality before coming to college. I learned not to apologize for who I am. Only you know what you need: Some people find strength in the energy of others, while I find strength and peace in time alone. Introversion and extroversion are spectrums; they are not black and white terms. We are all different, and you know yourself better than anyone.