What if Your Introversion Is the Key to Everything?Feb 13, 2022
By Jacqueline Shaulis.
Yes, you can be influential, impactful, and introverted. You're not faulty or weird (at least, not for that).
When people hear the term "introvert", usually it conjures notions of someone who is really shy or quiet or antisocial. And while those can be traits of an introvert, that is not what makes someone introverted. In fact, some extroverts have these same qualities.
Introversion is simply a descriptor of someone who internally processes stimulation. We introverts take in a tremendous amount of stimulation from others, our environment, and our internal ponderings. As internal processors, we need time away from stimulation to make sense of our world and give our brains and bodies space to sort through what's important.
Extroverts are on the other end of the processing spectrum as external processors. They need to engage with their world to sort through what's important. So they often talk through their thoughts, moving their bodies to think or immerse themselves in high engagement scenarios.
This spectrum of internal to external processing of stimulation is a very key distinction; we're all some variant (not shade) of grey rather than the black or white contrast we've been told. If you have a big personality or enjoy being in service and the spotlight yet need time away to recuperate and re-energise, this can feel disconcerting and even wrong. Especially when everything around you points to your inclination for time out as a character flaw or a shortcoming to persevere, overcome, or plain ignore.
The message that introverts get at every level is that we need to change who we are.
"You need to get out of your shell."
"You need to be more extroverted."
"If you want to be successful, you can't be introverted."
In other words: stop being you so you can be me.
There's nothing wrong with you or the way you make sense of your world. It is simply the way your brain is wired. This is essential to recognising that introversion is not a personality defect or an inherent disadvantage. Nor is it something to tweak or pretend doesn't exist.
Truthfully, your introversion is a good thing. A gift. An invitation to live deeply and impact greatly. When introverts work against themselves to fit someone else's mould, their focus is placed on people and things that don't serve them instead of harvesting the gifts of their introversion and using them as the foundation to build their success and amplify their influence. Your introversion fuels your ability to embrace your AWESOME and share it with your world.
I personally experienced this reasonably early in life when I was recruited to join the debate team at a new school. I was entirely out of my element - aside from my coach, everything was new and foreign. I decided to conduct an experiment of sorts - to say yes to me and live into the vision of myself I've held from even my single digits: being a best selling author travelling the world and giving speeches to large audiences. If I am the "mind me" I have always known to be accurate, what would that look like? How would the "mind me", as a luxurious global presence changing the world through words, operate and navigate life?
This decision required me to trust my introverted self and embrace the way I process the world, and it irreversibly transformed my life. My observation strengthened my critical thinking and speeches, leading to national competitions, international awards, and eventually funding for college. My introspection informed my writings and led to publishing my first international work, a poem called "The Wonder of Black." My curiosity and love of learning led to teaching college-level English through a local community college and graduating a full year early in the top 10 of my class.
If I relied only on others' ideas of who I could or should be, I would have missed so many unique experiences, right down to my current business and family trio. It took me believing that I could do, be, and have what I desired as I am, precisely because of how I am. Honouring myself opened me to take steps toward my dreams without sacrificing myself - no matter how unsure or nerve-wracking those steps were.
What if you made a new choice and decided to say YES to the vision of yourself in your mind?
What would it look like and feel like to be your "mind me"?
What if trying to change or deny your introversion is taking your eyes off the prize?
What if leaning into your introversion is the key to unlocking everything you've wanted to have, do, and be?
I challenge you to test the waters of trusting your internal processing. Channel and embody the emotions of your "mind me"- be they sassy, sexy, or silly. Say yes to an opportunity that gets you closer to your vision - even if you'd usually turn it down. Lean into your introversion and use it as a springboard to leap into your best reality.
And never forget to embrace your AWESOME, engage your gifts, and empower your world.
Jacqueline Shaulis is the leading authority on communication-based personal leadership for intersectional introverts. As an introverted woman of colour, she's leveraged her challenging upbringing into becoming a transformational speaker, bestselling author, and executive coach & advisor to Fortune 500 executives…all while honouring her introversion.
The founder of Awesome Enterprises LLC, Executive Director of the National Center for Intersectional Studies, and author of internationally bestselling books "Embrace Your Awesome" and "Yes Introverts Can". When not globetrotting with coffee in hand or loudly singing "tune-adjacent" at home, you can find Jacqueline getting lost in a good (audio)book or hugging her son, his nine cousins, or the nearest tree. You can read more about Jacqueline and her work here.
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