Sometimes “me time” is a real pain in the ass. While I’m the queen of self care and routinely carve out daily time with myself without fail (and we’re talking hours of time), I can honestly say that there are many times when I’d rather shut myself in for days on end and just read, sleep, drink tea, journal, and meditate. I could have that cycle on repeat while cuddled in my bed, all without a single soul in site. And I’d love every second.
Most people are surprised to learn that I’m a total introvert. (Trust me—I’m an introvert to my core.) Until recently, I didn’t really know what that meant. Since I’m super social, for the longest time I figured that’s what I was; a very social person, and in my mind, that equated to being an extrovert. I’ve learned over the years that it’s clearly not extroverted tendencies that drive me, but how the heck are we supposed to know?
From all my learnings and experiences, what I’m seeing more and more is that so many of the leaders I admire are also introverts. (Who would’ve thought?!) They’re all so comfortable in the spotlight, and I wrongly assumed that if someone is good at public speaking, they must also be an extrovert. Honestly, it brought me comfort and inspiration to hear that so many introverts actually prefer public speaking because it lets them expend their energy in an efficient way, rather than entertaining a small group of people on a more regular basis. (The latter would leave them feeling drained.)
Essentially, the main differences between introverts and extroverts are what fuels them…and what drains them. When we talk about extroverts, social stimulation inspires them, while that same stimulation will empty an introvert of their energy. If you use me as an example, as much as I like being around others, it has to be in short spurts, and I always need to recharge my batteries after a social event. I feel pretty worn down and need my sacred alone time to get my sparkle back. Without it, I wind up inattentive, scattered, and boring.
All of that said, in a world of extroverts, it’s hard to have a voice, make that voice heard, and then create change—especially if you’re feeling overshadowed. I didn’t think I had what it took to catalyze shifts, to be of service to others, and to bring my voice into this world. Since I was so shy, I felt like the opportunities belonged to those who enjoyed the limelight.
But us introverts can create change both in the workplace and our lives, even though we need alone time. Like, a lot of alone time. It’s really just all about making your solitude and time for self a priority. When you take the time to engage in the activities that supercharge your soul and energize you, you can give yourself to others when you want and need to. For introverts, it means a whole lot of introspection.
My tried and tested tricks:
1. Take baby steps to be seen and heard. Ultimately, getting out of your comfort zone is key. Try making a video of yourself for your eyes only. Become familiar with your own body and voice, and most importantly, embrace it. Once you’re able to view yourself without criticism and have fun, it’s easier to share yourself with the world.
2. Toastmasters. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been advised to join Toastmasters. It’s a light-hearted, supportive environment to be in the limelight and learn how to shine. It’s a perfect dose of practice, which we know is key to any brave step.
3. Write it out. Maybe for you it’s easier to express your truth in writing. Personally, this is my favourite, non-threatening way to express myself. If you’re not sure how to start sharing your message, writing is a great first step.
4. Interview others. Taking the spotlight off of yourself and shining it on others is such a brilliant way for you to be seen and heard, all while helping. After all, you’re still directing the space and in charge of the flow.
5. Clear out your calendar. For us introverts, it’s really important to schedule in downtime. Whether it’s back-to-back client engagements or family celebrations, always plan for a period of solitude when you can reconnect with yourself to rejuvenate and refresh. Think about it as investing in your future successes.
As it turns out, the war between introverts and extroverts isn’t a war at all—it’s a partnership. Without the social, gregarious extroverts we wouldn’t have nights spent in comedy clubs or a Broadway show (because most actors I’ve met are definitely extroverted). Without the thoughtful, contemplative introverts we likely wouldn’t have beautiful yoga routines and inspiring innovation. Each and every person brings something different to this crazy party.
Unsure about which group suits you best? Not sure how to recharge? Reach out for guidance. Because no matter what’s on your mind, I’m here to help you find the fix that fits best for you.