A Guest Blog by Emily Armitage of Yorkshire Zen
We live in an extroverted world... Yes, even during a pandemic. I see and speak to more people in one day now over video calls that I ever did face to face in real life way back in the heady days of early 2020.
In our extroverted world, it sometimes seems that to get ‘ahead’ (whatever that means), extroversion is the name of the game. If you don’t exhibit extroverted behaviours, opportunities can seem to pass you by.
It’s all about the hustle and networking. There is no space for the recharge.
Many introverts, like myself, have created a facade; a character to get by - the extroverted introvert. We pull it on like a jumper to act into the space expected of us by our parents, friends, society as a whole - and it’s exhausting operating in a way which goes against your nature.
It can impact your confidence, career path and how you make and feel about money. Add empath into the mix as well and as you’re taking on other people’s feelings, emotions and energies it doesn’t leave much space for your own.
Codependency and people pleasing can become the order of the day and the ‘you’ at your core can get lost, hidden and just too hard to find.
Our world bombards us with stories about speaking up and socialising from day one. Typical introverted behaviour often gets labelled as ‘shy’, ‘difficult’, ‘boring’, ‘aloof’ and ‘lacking confidence’. I’ve been called all these things and then some, but actually I don’t believe that’s true. I’d also love to know who's doing the labelling…
There is a massive difference between social anxiety and introversion. For a long time, I thought I didn’t like people, which is totally untrue. I love people, I just don’t love being around them all the time. And I know plenty of confident introverts, including myself. We just display our confidence in a different way to our extroverted friends. You won’t find me the centre of attention at a party, but I probably will make a mic drop statement in a work meeting.
So if you are naturally more introverted, what can you do? Is the world forever stacked against you? Not necessarily.
Noticing how you react, how and to what is incredibly powerful.
Understanding what gets you energised, what depletes you and how you can bring more of that energising stuff into your everyday (and actually applying those things) can be very empowering.
Introverts need alone time to recharge whereas extroverts energise by interacting with others. Once I noticed what really depletes my energy, I then worked my time around it.
It’s not always possible (because life happens) but if I have a day of back to back calls, or a speaking engagement, I know I’ll need a good chunk of time with as little stimulation or conversation as possible afterwards to recharge.
Planning in time to do this means I get back to a balanced state far quicker and am ready to go again. Making this happen does mean stating your needs to those around you, and knowing that you are worth that time which is where a lot of us can get stuck.
What action can you take to make sure you get time to recharge?
This might seem like a contradiction but even us introverts need to connect, just in the right ways.
No small talk for us thanks, but finding a friend who you can chat about the deep stuff with, or a fellow introvert who understands exactly where you are coming from can be a game changer.
Your more extroverted friends may be struggling right now with lack of contact (remember, they recharge through interaction) so reaching out for a cuppa and a conversation could help you both.
Books can also make you feel less alone and help you see the strengths of being an introvert too.
I am a big fan of ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain, especially the part where she points out we probably wouldn’t have had the financial crash in 2008 if there had been more introverts in the room...
Remember your superpowers
Over the years, I’ve learnt that quiet is a super power and that leader doesn’t mean louder.
If you can see through the hot air and superficial conversations at work or a family gathering, and make your point in a considered, definite and firm way, you can be heard above the crowd.
And your point will probably hold more weight as those around you know you consider all the facts before opening your mouth.
Introverts are unlikely to go in with all guns blazing, but give us an environment we know (and have thoroughly assessed) and the right atmosphere, and we’ll surprise you.