Message to introvert younger self

I’d get my younger self to understand introversion, in the hope that I – like many others I’ve spoken to would feel that “WOW -I’m normal” moment, resulting in more empowerment and less angst.

What’s the Introvert WOW moment?

Lady jumping for joy at the introvert wow moment
Jumping for joy – the introvert WOW moment

In the last couple of years as I’ve researched introverts in business, interviewed many introverts and surveyed even more (as well as extroverts). Time and time again I’ve come across variations of the following simple story. Take the survey yourself, please.

I thought I was odd, inferior and “different”, I felt tired when with lots of other people. It led to me thinking there’s something wrong with me, making other people treat me differently. It wasn’t nice (nice is such a simple word for a complex range of emotions isn’t it). Despite trying I was never popular in class/ at work and missed out on some great jobs to people who didn’t know as much as me – but talked a lot louder.

Then I came learnt what being an introvert meant and was shocked to realise it “described me to a T“. I learnt that a third to a half of people are introverts, with similar feelings and that I wasn’t the only one. The relief was immense.

I become more comfortable in my own skin, happier to interact with others in my way, not by trying to be an extrovert. It was liberating and empowering.

Western society still seems designed for extroverts, but that’s much easier to cope with now I understand some of the gifts of being introverted.

What’s an introvert anyway?

Some of things that give people their introvert WOW moment are when they understand some of the points below:

  • Enjoying your own company: Introverts tend to be very happy in their own company most of the time. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy being with people. An extrovert tends to be much less happy in their own company. Essentially being in company leaves most introverts tired. Before understanding this many introverts feel inferior.
  • Energy: An introvert tends to gain energy by spending time on their own and feels tired spending time in groups (especially if they’re not close to the group). The energy drain can be like the energy loss from an old mobile phone, one minute you’re chatting away and then the battery is a 1%! It certainly left my younger self feeling as if I’m odd.
  • Conversational: An introvert can participate in conversations as introversion is not the same as shy. If an introvert is quiet it’s probably because they’re choosing to be quiet and/ or conserving their depleting energy. Introverts also tend to think about things before talking and want a full understanding of concepts before discussing, giving opinion or offering an explanation. This is about the way people think differently.
  • Internal or external processing: Ask an introvert a question and there is often a slight delay before you get a good answer, it’s called internal processing as introverts “think to talk“. Extroverts process their thoughts externally as they “talk to think”. In a room full of people chatting comfortably it used to feel like I was the odd one out, enhancing the uncomfortable “I’m odd” feeling

what is the difference between being shy and being introverted?”,

Being introverted is not the same as being shy. It’s possible to be both, but they are not the same. A shy person often lacks social confidence and may believe they’re not good enough to meet. Shyness refers to a behaviour involving feeling inhibited as well as feelings of tension and discomfort. It’s often spoken of as a learned habit.

How understanding introversion might change my younger self.

Certainly for me knowing those points far earlier in life would have left me feeling less uncomfortable, more able to deal with the rest of the world and more able to unlock my personal superpowers.

Having heard the introvert WOW moment from many others, I know they’d feel the same.

How would it be if we all had our empowering WOW moment years earlier?