Do you know you are an introvert? Read Susan Cain's book "Quiet" and tons of blog posts about introversion AND joined lots of the popular Introvert Forums?
Great. So now what?
It's nice to have resources available about what introversion is and isn't and it's also comforting to have access to a community of fellow introverts virtually but what do you do with all of this? After you get past the reassurance that nothing is wrong with you, you start to get kind of sick of seeing the same old complaints about being misunderstood or worse, you get sucked into a victim mentality vortex because people in your life STILL don't get you.
With all the recent publicity about introversion including blog posts (including posts about how to "fix you"), info graphics, T-shirts, Pinterest, Facebook pages and You Tube videos surely you should start feeling a change in attitude about introverts by now? Right? No? Keep reading.
As a former HR Manager, I can tell you that I have seen first hand how introverts are misunderstood, undervalued and even worse- labeled as someone "less than". Great ideas and innovative thinking are squashed by a culture that values loud personalities and marginalizes the quiet ones. And things aren't really changing.
The reality is: Real change starts with YOU.
That's right, you.
Even though people "should" understand you by now they just won't because you haven't given them a reason too.
You have to be willing to speak up and tell people what you need.
It will be uncomfortable at first for most of you. You will likely have to do it more than once. I hated having to do it. I was incredibly resentful that I had to do it.
It took me getting really angry at being mistreated for my quiet nature before I finally spoke up.
Don't wait to be insulted like I was before you claim the right to be who you are.
Why be miserable? All those people who you think won't ever understand you in most cases honestly just don't know any better!
They've been conditioned to think a certain way and it takes time, patience and persistence to help them see differently.
If I could get a top rated Public Accounting firm to understand me, value me and promote me despite an extroverted paradigm of success you can too.
If I gave up and accepted all of the labeling I received over the years (too quiet, not confident enough, not her skill set, etc.) I would not be writing this to you today as a successful business owner. That's right. I own my own business. Ol' quiet one over here.
You can't give up or give in.
What you need to remember is that you have tremendous courage.
I know that most of you have this in spades because it takes a herculean effort to put up with the garbage that you have to deal with on a daily basis. It's incredibly draining and at times it feels like it's just not worth the effort. But it totally is.
Take all of your courage and channel it into your VOICE.
Voice can take many forms: writing, drawing, music or dance. Wherever your voice lives, engage it and use it.
Those books, blog posts and magazine articles that you've collected about introversion? Take them to work and create a short PowerPoint and ask to show it to your boss or co-workers. If you fee like it, put on a mini-presentation at work. This is exactly what I did and I felt great afterwards. Do you know why?
Because I took control.
No one backed me into a corner or put me on the spot. I went first. I made the first move.
If your family is bugging you about your personality, create a script from all the resources you've collected. It can be as simple as a few sentences. Here's one I have used a lot: "I'm not antisocial. I'm an introvert. I prefer to have genuine conversations with people I know."
Clear and simple.
Staking your claim can be absolutely revolutionary for quieter people.
A word of caution: This has to be done with respect because no one will listen to someone who is in a snit or perceived as just "ranting"(Alas, I speak from experience).
Honor yourself. Be patient if you don't find all the words you need at first.
The right words will come.
You can do this.
Now, over to you. Tell me in the comments section some of the ways you have spoken up. We can all learn from each other.
Need some extra help? See if this would do the trick.
All my best,
Christian Marie Herron, is Story Mentor and Creative Consultant for entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives.