Susan Cain can give TED talks, write books, and provide interviews over and over again. Yet, the message will never truly be understood by a society run by extroverts. What message am I referring to? The one that every introvert wishes could be broadcasted on every billboard in the country.
The Introvert’s Message to an Extrovert:
Introverts are not anti-social hermits with autism. They are not cold-hearted, depressed, or rude. They are not intellectually inferior to extroverts.
Introverted people like quiet spaces to bring their work to fruition. They prefer having one-on-one conversations instead of interacting with large groups of people. Introverts need alone time to reenergize. They are always prepared! Due to their outstanding observational and listening skills, they excel at problem solving and showing empathy to others.
Introverts may not adjust to new environments as well as extroverts, but it doesn’t mean they are not capable of adapting. Sensitivity and unique creativity are common gifts introverts share. Finally, introverted people love to have fun (if fun is defined as activities in solitude or meaningful interactions with close friends).
I’ve had many people give me the same unsolicited advice over the years. From childhood to early adulthood, people have told me to change my personality. These important people include my parents, teachers, medical school professors, and colleagues. According to them, I was “too quiet”, “without personality”, “somewhat cold”, “not social enough”, and “not vocal enough to assess my knowledge”.
What they failed to tell me is I am a thoughtful and gentle person who is extremely hard-working and detail-oriented. I always accept my mistakes and learn from them. I have empathy and emotional intelligence that others could never achieve. Once I become used to a new environment, I naturally become an effective behind-the-scenes leader. I never turn down a challenge and always improve my work environment by generating creative solutions. Similar to other introverts, sometimes people don’t notice my accomplishments because I don’t boast about them. And yes, I even have a few close friends who would do anything to help me at a moment’s notice.
Despite my introversion and other people’s doubts in my abilities, I became a board-certified physician specialized in pathology! So for all the disbelieving extroverts, the message is clear: introverts have and will continue to succeed in their own special ways. Get used to it!
By the way, Susan Cain created a wonderful resource to empower introverts at http://www.quietrev.com. Please take time to read personal challenges and successes shared by introverts in the Quiet Revolutionaries section (http://www.quietrev.com/quiet-revolutionaries/)