I am a proud Innie.
...and, I'm not talking about belly buttons.
Recently, I finished a book called The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney (rent here) and, let me tell you, although it was originally published in 2002, I can assure you of its accuracy as we sit here 20 years later.
The Introvert Advantage is all about identifying, celebrating, and harnessing the unique temperament of introverts (aka: innies). See, we live within a society that glorifies the extrovert (aka: outies)—the decisive, outgoing, quick-thinking, supremely confident, conversationally-savvy individual. And, not to say this is necessarily wrong or unjustified. Extroverts are incredibly valuable and bring so much to the table.
Yet, so do introverts, which tends to be forgotten.
When reading this book, so much began to click. Why am I quieter? Why do I act certain ways in certain situations? Why do I feel drained in some settings and energized in others? Turns out, the answers to these long-held questions all centered around my physiological wiring.
I am wired (as we all are) to have a certain temperament. There is a spectrum on which we all individually lie, with one end marking extreme introversion and the other extreme extroversion. While I'm not sure where exactly I land on this spectrum, I at least know that I'm more innie than outie...
And, that is not just okay, it is powerful!
According to Dr. Laney (the author of The Introvert Advantage), in almost every society, country, neighborhood, there are less introverts than extroverts. That, coupled with the more boisterous nature of extroverts, tends to explain why their temperament reigns supreme in the annals of societal norms. What's more is the fact that extroverts simply have a hard time understanding introverts...
Why don't they just speak up? Why don't they like socializing with others? Why do they seem so risk-averse?
Us introverts tend to ask these questions of ourselves, too. It's time we not only understand their answers, but also look beyond our perceived deficiencies and to our unique strengths.
If I may give a brief lesson:
Innies gain energy by being alone and lose energy amongst others
Introverts physiologically take longer to think through things (and may appear less decisive, witty, etc.), which may be perceived as a lack of confidence, intelligence, and/or assuredness, but is, in fact, a biological trait
Innies are more detail-oriented and less impulsive than outies
With this knowledge, I—and hopefully you—have gained a much better understanding of the tendencies of introverts and why we do what we do. Once we begin to understand our default reactions to certain situations, we can leverage perceived weaknesses as strengths!
Being comfortable with yourself and enjoying spending time with yourself is a good thing! Taking time to think through things is good! Minding the details is necessary and good!
Just because us innies don't fit the societal mold of what it means to excel, succeed, and be an "alpha" does not mean that we can't do/be all of those things and more. We just have to approach it with our strengths and temperament in mind.
So what you may not be the next Steve Jobs. You may just be the next Bill Gates instead.
Stay true to who you are—innie or outie—be proud, and carry on the best way you know how. Always remember this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson...
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Carry on innies. Carry on with pride.