For the longest time, I thought of myself as an Extrovert. I tended to be talkative, outgoing, didn’t mind the spotlight, and loved hanging out with friends and family. After all, anyone not that way was considered shy, standoffish, rude, awkward,quiet, or just not as “likeable” as their more rambunctious counterparts.
But being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy or a reclusive hermit. The major difference between introvert vs. extrovert is how you get your energy. Extroverts draw their energy from being around other people while introverts get it through solitary reflection or time alone.
As with anything, you don’t necessarily have to belong to one category exclusively. Introverts can have some traits of extroverts and vice versa. You may also identify as an “ambivert” which is a perfect balance of the two.
I am an introvert who thrives on connection. I love talking with people, sharing stories, and inspiring change - if I know you. If we have a relationships or connection. Get me around strangers or large crowds full of people I don't know and I am drained *snaps fingers* that fast.
I am a professional fundraiser. My job is to build relationships and inspire philanthropic giving to worthy causes. It requires communication and networking above everything else. I meet hundreds of people each year, stand in large crowds constantly, and am forced to mingle and meet new people on an ongoing basis.
How they hell does my introverted self survive?
I survive because what I do is important. I’m not begging for money or making fake connections to get my job done. The relationship building that drives me is at the very center of my job. Not only that, but I recognize introverts have some amazing qualities that often go unnoticed or underappreciated.
Introverts are listeners, observers, and have no problem stepping out of the spotlight. We tend to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Yet, there seems to be this stigma that introverts are not as valuable as extroverts.
In fact, it wasn’t until the past year or so that I felt comfortable telling people I was an introvert. Like with many other aspects of my life, I was “faking it until I made it.” I pretended to be this happy-go-lucky-super-friendly-people-pleaser because I thought people wouldn’t like me if I was my awkward, introverted self. In fact, the first time I let it known I was actually an introvert, my ability to do my job was questioned. It completely blindsided me. You didn't know I was an introvert until I said something... why would it matter?
Imagine my surprise when I went to an introverted fundraiser session at a conference and was met with a PACKED ROOM. We all sat awkwardly in solidarity and were so relieved to know we weren’t alone. It’s helped my own my truth. I’m an introvert. I can’t people very well. But I love connection and helping people make a difference in the world. That makes me VALUABLE. That makes me good at my job. Being an introvert is NOT a dirty word.
Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert - whatever you are, own it. You have skills and abilities this world needs. Don’t hide it!
Fellow introverts - I love you. Be intentional with your life and keep pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Keep taking the time to recharge and put your needs first.