17 Feb An Introvert’s Guide to Being an Active Community Member
I’m an introvert, and I definitely don’t hide it. Anyone around me regularly knows I need time to decompress after a long day in order to feel like a human again. In addition to being so introverted, though, I am also extremely involved on my college campus. I hold two executive board positions in different clubs, and I work two jobs. I’ve been an orientation leader for three years, and I’m the newest Swift Kick intern. How does my introverted heart handle all these outgoing commitments? I’m glad you asked!
There are many confident, outspoken introverts in the world despite the colloquial definition of introverts as being shy. The thing that defines us as introverts is simply the source of our energy. Alone time and introspection are key to an introvert’s happiness. We just need some time to ourselves during the day in order to feel prepared for the next day’s adventures.
Although introverts are typically painted as bookworms, our alone time could be spent in many different ways. We spend it binging a new show on Netflix, exercising, journaling, rock climbing–you name it! Introverts aren’t limited in their interests just because they need a little extra independence. That means many introverts are excited to get involved in communities and teams.
If you’re as introverted as I am, though, getting involved can be a daunting task. It takes a lot of energy to be a peppy orientation leader. Burning out is a real possibility. Keep reading for some tips on how to start joining communities without collapsing in the process.
Advocate for your needs–whatever they are.
Are you the kind of introvert who can handle lots of interaction throughout the day if you get lots of alone time during the evening? Great! Are you the kind of introvert who needs short bursts of centering alone time after some fun and mingling? That’s fine, too! Just make sure the people around you know what your introverted style is. I have had to duck out of social situations for a few minutes to gather myself in the past. Warning the people around me that I needed a break beforehand always had a better outcome than just disappearing.
Challenge yourself in small doses.
If you’re an introvert, it might not be the best decision to throw yourself into 80 new social situations at once. There can be a lot of pressure to immediately find your niche, but jumping into cold water can shock your system. Take it as slowly as you need to. You definitely want to feel happy and fulfilled while also taking care of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with trying something new–just make sure you’re comfortable first.
Make friends with another introvert.
From my experiences, nobody understands introverts better than other introverts. These are the kinds of people who can sit in a room with you comfortably while you’re both working on your own separate projects. In my opinion, introverted friends are always gifts, but they are especially lovely for their fellow introverts. Relatable life experiences can truly work miracles.
Stop comparing yourself to extroverts.
A past intern, Jake, wrote about the unspoken competition between introverts and extroverts over who is the better leader. As Jake wrote, each personality is individual. Being more introverted does not make you a worse leader than someone who is more extroverted. One of the most extroverted people I know is completely terrified of public speaking. Even as an introvert, I revel in opportunities to network and get to know new people. These facts seem contradictory to our roles as extroverts and introverts, but we’re all our own people in the end. Comparisons will always kill your spirit. You do you!
See it through an extrovert’s eyes.
It’s a Swift Kick core value to see life through other perspectives. Although I’m guilty of occasionally not understanding extroverts, seeing life through their eyes makes me a better person. The fact of the matter is that our extroverted friends need us introverts. We are literally positive influences on the amount of energy they have during the day. Some of us might need an extrovert to get us out of our comfort zones. We all work together on different teams, and empathy is always encouraged.
What tips do you have for your introverted friends who want to be active community members?