Over the past several years, many people have been surprised to find out that I’m an introvert. They see me speak in front of large crowds. I am often engaged in conversation when I’m at an event or gathering. I teach, lead small groups, train, lead meetings…and many other things that are traditionally only attributed to extroverts and their way of life.
I have also been struck lately by the moments when I’ve heard someone say that they’re an introvert and the shock that accompanies that revelation from the people around them. They are often surprised. I’ve even heard them try to convince the other person that somehow they’ve gotten it wrong. “Are you sure?” “There’s NO way!” “Maybe you’ve changed over the last few years.”
I would guess that there are many introverts around you that you would never suspect. One day, they’ll surprise you and then your world will be rocked. But, why? Why are so many introverts masquerading around like extroverts? Why is it that introverts seem to “act” so much like extroverts? Here are my thoughts:
- Introverts think that being extroverted is the way to be successful. It seems like, from a very early age, it’s the extroverted, outgoing person that is the most popular and has the most friends. The center of attention is the one who gets the attention. There has been this impression that in order to get ahead and to have any kind of influence, we must be outgoing…and extroverted. So, we do it. And, it exhausts us…but we want to be successful too!
- Our jobs require it. Introverts are strongly qualified for all kinds of positions – not just the ones where we work in an office all day and never speak to anyone else. And, it seems that no matter what our career is, there are elements that require us to give a presentation in front of others or attend a banquet or social event. Introverted leaders must spend their days with people…it’s required.
- We actually do like people. Contrary to popular belief, introverts actually do like people. I’ve written on this before, and you can check it out here. But, being introverted does not mean that you dislike people…or being around people. In fact, the most introverted people are married, with kids, and jobs, etc. We are around people all the time. The difference comes when we consider the idea of what energizes us. For introverts, it’s solitude. We love being around people, but it can be draining. And to re-energize, we need to be alone.
- Deep down, we secretly want to be extroverted. Ok, I may catch some flack for this one…but I think there are a great deal of introverts who wish they were not. We’ve been told for years and decades that being introverted is almost like a disability. So, we’ve shouldered this burden of trying to convince everyone else that we’re not. And, even after discovering that it’s ok to be an introvert, there are still some of us that believe that being extroverted would make life easier in some ways.
Do these resonate with you? What else would you add to the list? Comment below and let me know…