If there’s anything ACTM members are known for, it’s their ability to excel at both work and play. As a freshman, I would watch coursemates take a full load of subjects, apply for core team positions in organizations, and still have enough energy for block lunches and weekly nights out. With their gift of gab and wide network of connections, they’re the life of the party today, and at the top of the corporate ladder tomorrow. But what about those on the more introverted side of the spectrum?
Well, at the time, I felt like an outlier, scared and stuck in a foreign environment. Just thinking about juggling all those things was enough to make me nauseous. We introverts are labeled as shy or anti-social when our brains just take in and process more information at a higher level of involvement. We think hard about things, fuss over the details, and recharge in solitude--preferably in bed with a good book. But now that we live in a world where fortune favors the bold, aren’t we at a disadvantage? How then could we possibly succeed?
In an attempt to answer these questions, I attended a webinar held by Hult International School of Business. According to key speaker Cari Guittard, introverts naturally have a different way of perceiving the world, given how attuned we are to the things around us. Instead of trying to fit in a mold determined by culture, society, or strangers on the Internet, here are some ways we can break free from our shells and leave the impact we want in ACTM:
1. Put your gift of foresight to good use.
Introverts don’t have much energy to expend so they need to think long-term about the commitments they take on. Thankfully, we happen to be naturally reflective individuals! It’s best to make use of this gift to assess which role allows you to perform at your highest level of contribution. Perhaps your ability to look for loopholes and contingencies would make you a great Project Management deputy, or your inventive ideas could land you a spot as a Strategic Manager. To push it a step further, maybe you find fulfillment in ushering freshmen in or promoting an advocacy; if that’s the case, you’d be happiest working on Prepcourse and CSR respectively!
2. Understand that the process takes time.
In this fast-paced environment, where the world is a click or swipe away, we are wired to crave instant gratification. Sadly, this also bleeds into real-life situations. In an attempt to compensate for our lack of activity, we may end up pushing ourselves too soon, too fast and fall flat on our faces. For example: I am personally overwhelmed when surrounded by new people. So it would be much wiser if I showed up at MVP 321 with a friend who can introduce me to new people, instead of dropping by alone. Setting realistic expectations may not lead to instant results but it drastically increases the likelihood of success.
3. Find an accountability buddy.
When we acknowledge we’re capable of doing something beneficial for us, we still have the tendency to back out at the last minute. I know I do. In fact, I wouldn’t be your current AVP for Documentations if I didn’t have accountability buddies to help me follow through with my plans. These could be anyone: your immediate family members, closest blockmates, or maybe even fellow introverts like you looking for a karamay, so to speak. As long as they’re someone you trust, someone who believes in you completely and is willing to keep you in check, you should be good to go.
4. Don’t overthink every conversation you have.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people blame their awkwardness on their introversion. In reality, we have a unique ability to develop trusting relationships with those we’ve just met. Being naturally attentive to things others usually overlook, like a book tucked under an arm or a caption on a t-shirt, we can easily identify points of commonality with others and establish rapport. People are naturally interested to those who pay attention to them, so don’t be afraid to talk about yourself! After all, with our greater memory and higher situational awareness, we make for compelling storytellers who can weave together lasting personal narratives.
5. Acknowledge and respect your limitations.
Despite our greatest efforts, it’s difficult to be the person who is never seen alone or who can negotiate out of any situation. While we can accept it most days, sometimes our insecurities get the best of us. This isn’t something that can be altered by reading self-help books or taking medications. Being an introvert makes the grey matter in our brains larger and thicker, and affects our body’s response to hormones. Our personalities may change but our natural temperament remains the same. Instead of resenting and regretting, we must embrace our introversion, along with its perceived flaws. Constant bouts of overthinking can’t discount our innate superpowers and how they help us make smarter decisions and build genuine connections. It’s high time we have more faith in ourselves and learn to use our gifts to thrive in the way only we can.
__________ All credits for the elements in the banner go to the rightful owners. Photo by Christine Castro.