Growing up, I was always the quiet kid. I didn’t say much in class, and almost never raised my hand. If I ever did say something, people seemed to be surprised that I actually talked. Their facial expression would say, “Oh my, she speaks!” During high school, every report card said I was a great student, but was encouraged to participate more in class. For most of my life, I felt a bit odd, as if there was something different or unique about me. Perhaps there was something wrong; I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but it became an insecurity of mine. I always wondered why I was the quiet kid who preferred to stay in the background and never liked being the centre of attention (I still don’t). Why wasn’t I always full of bubbly energy and ready to make conversation? Why did I have a small handful of close friends as opposed to a larger group? All these things plagued my mind for years and I struggled to find an answer.
During the months before I left home to move into my residence, I told myself I wasn’t going to be that quiet kid anymore. I was going to be the most outgoing person and meet loads of people. I attended the orientation events and made a handful of connections, but I was still that quiet kid who didn’t say much. It wasn’t until I was well into my first year of university that I became more aware of myself, and thought perhaps this is just how I am and I need to accept it. I then came across the Myers-Briggs test and saw that as an opportunity to gain some clarity and learn more about myself. It took me roughly 15-20 minutes and the results showed that I was INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.
For those of you who may not be aware, the Myers-Briggs Personality test consists of a series of questions which points you to a specific personality type. There are four dichotomies everyone is placed into, which are: Introverted/Extraverted, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perceiving.
The most important aspect of the test is whether you are introverted or extraverted. To explain the difference in the simplest of terms, extraverts gain energy from social interaction while introverts gain energy from solitude. This means an extravert would likely prefer a night out with friends, while an introvert would probably rather stay indoors binge-watching Netflix, for example.
As I was reading through my test results, all the questions I ever had about myself were answered. I was finally able to comprehend the intricacies of my personality and this is when I began to view my introversion as a strength rather than a weakness. That part was key to giving my confidence an extra boost.
Interestingly enough, I took the Myers-Briggs test again a few days ago and it came back as INFP, which stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perception. When I read through the description, I found quite a few similarities between INFP and INFJ. Initially, I was surprised when my newest results said INFP, because I had become attached to being an INFJ. I then remembered that humans are complex and ever-evolving. There are traits of both INFJ and INFP that resonate with me, so identifying as an INFP/INFJ feels fitting. I am sharing all of this because I have learned a lot about myself upon acknowledging myself as an introvert, so here are a few main takeaways:
- Introverts are deep thinkers
Introverts tend to have a lengthy thinking process; the first thought that comes to mind is usually not what is spoken. There is often a thorough filter our thoughts go through before releasing them. This has its perks and drawbacks. Having a lengthy thought process means that more often than not, when you do say something there is great value behind it. However, this also means we are more susceptible to second-guessing our thoughts or feeling self-doubt. So, those great ideas we have may never see the light of day. We all have a voice, and it should be used wisely, which leads me to my next point.
- Being quiet is not equivalent to being shy; it could actually be your strength
Everyone has a voice, and we must feel empowered to use it. However, it is not always necessary that we must speak or respond. With introverts generally having the tendency to be quiet, we are also great listeners. Our world places a premium on constant talking and continuous conversation. Silence is seen as uncomfortable or awkward, so we fill that space with small talk. Our society doesn’t seem to value listening, or active listening, as much. Oftentimes, when we are in conversation with someone, we are simply listening to respond rather than truly understand the message being conveyed. This means that while one person is speaking, the other is formulating potential responses before their turn to speak arrives. This is where active listening comes in — listening to comprehend, rather than simply responding.
- Introverts make great friends and awesome confidants
Due to the fact that deep thinking and listening occurs naturally for introverts and we usually dislike small talk, we are more likely to have a smaller group of friends with strong connections. Our deep thoughts breed a craving for meaningful conversations, which becomes an opportunity to further strengthen our friendships. Also, if you’re an introvert, you might find yourself to be the one whose advice is regularly sought because of your ability to listen and comprehend.
With all that being said, I will leave you with two resources that can help you delve deeper into your introversion and learn more about yourself:
1. Blog: Introvert Dear by Jen Granneman and Andre Sólo
This is an online community/blog run by Jen Granneman and Andre Sólo. They cover a wide range of topics related to being introverted. The content presents an opportunity to relate to others’ stories and gain more self awareness as an introvert.
2. Book: Quiet by Susan Cain
This book is my number one recommendation to every introvert that may be struggling to come to terms with themselves. The author, an introvert herself, dives into the science behind introversion and includes much research throughout her book.
Our world places a premium on being extraverted, from the way we are expected to interact in classrooms to workplace dynamics. Therefore, it is easy to feel out of place as an introvert. We are often perceived as antisocial, weird, or even rude. Amidst all of this, it is important to acquire a strong sense of self and surround yourself with like-minded people who understand your introversion and your need to withdraw every now and then. Learning more about yourself will likely answer questions you have been wrestling with and will also reward you with elevated confidence and inner peace.