That’s because, not only is Susan Cain a respected trailblazer whose work has personally touched me (and countless others) when it comes to a broader awareness, understanding and acceptance of introversion (you’ve probably read her best-selling book, Quiet, and seen her powerful Ted talk by now), but also because it meant that my own commitment to taking daily steps to be more Brave, Seen and True, despite the fear and uncertainty, actually manifested in ways that I could never have imagined just over a year ago when I started Wise Introvert.
I was consciously choosing to be/do ME, in my own introverted way, and in the process, kindreds actually saw me. It felt validating.
To me, a sense of belonging is one of the most important aspects of Quiet Revolution, the new online community co-founded by Cain and created to connect and empower introverts around the world. And it’s one of the reasons why it’s time to rethink quiet.
Because as much as introverts need solitude, we don’t want to feel disconnected.
And while many of us have spent too much time and energy trying to fit in, pushing ourselves to do what we had to (or thought we should) in order to gain success or approval, fewer of us have found real belonging ~ where we can be ourselves and have our value acknowledged and embraced without having to justify or defend it.
This deep acceptance is both an inside and outside job. As introverts, we must learn to let go of the comparison that leads to judgement, shame, and the fear that we don’t measure up. We have to love ourselves and claim our own value as much as (perhaps more than) we need the outside world to value us.
It’s on both of these levels – inside & out – that I believe Quiet Revolution can inspire significant change in the world ~ one person, one organization, one design, one policy, one choice at a time.
My own search for belonging began long ago and continues today.
Now in my mid-forties, I have lived much of my life feeling like an underdog, outsider, or rebel (but what I have rarely felt was “normal”). At times it has bothered me; other times not.
As a kid, I remember feeling special and powerful. Full of confidence, I knew I was meant for great things and this made me a natural leader with high expectations of myself (and others). Independent and comfortable as a bit of a loner, I had a small group of friends and was considered popular, but never developed deeper lifelong connections.
School was most important to me, not because of the social aspects (I didn’t even go to my high school grad), but because I loved learning and succeeding in an academic environment.
At university, I felt at home in the lecture hall or seminar room – thinking and learning and being inspired by my professors. I also loved becoming totally consumed in research and writing.
People had little to do with my measurement of success. It was my perceptions, analytical thinking, insights and written communication – the real inner me – my way of “seeing” and expressing which could never be duplicated – that was most valued.
Out in the “real world”, I didn’t feel the same level of control or confidence. That’s because the rules had changed and succeeding had become more focused on social interaction and approval.
It wasn’t the inner me that was as important anymore, it was about how well I could conform, get along, persuade, and impress. More than delivering quality results with humility, much of the time success was measured by social performance.
Over the years, I’ve felt torn by the feeling of being an outsider, wondering how much I really wanted “in” – and when I was inside, feeling like I was performing in order to stay there. I learned how to play the game to my benefit. I just wasn’t always sure that I wanted to, knowing it would come at a cost.
Looking back, it is evident that I have lived much of my life in fight or flight mode. That has led to significant energy management challenges which seemed to become more apparent as I aged. So too was my unwillingness to invest so much energy into trying to fit in.
Attempting to be something that you’re not is exhausting.
And that’s what eventually led me to starting Wise Introvert.
I was ready to invest in my own definition of success again, based on who I am and what works best for me, and step away from “the performance”.
It reflects my personal commitment to Be Brave, Be Seen, Be True. In doing so, I aspire to help other introverted women to do the same – creating change from the inside-out.
we could find our own right way by honouring who we are and trusting our intuition to guide us toward living more true (whatever that looks like for each of us)
by doing our part to be authentically seen, we would be WELCOMED in ‘as-is’ by the open-hearted (introverts & extroverts alike) who truly recognize our value.
Then, we could all prosper together. Imagine how that would feel! Imagine what we could accomplish!
That would require us, introverts and extroverts alike, to rethink quiet.
Too many negative stereotypes and misconceptions about introversion persist. It’s time to question, learn, connect, and move beyond so that we can co-create a world where everyone belongs, no matter what makes us different.
Introverts are not defective or of less value.
We’re wise, powerful, and worthy!
“Unlocking the power of introverts for the benefit of us all” is an intention that I whole-heartedly believe in. I hope you will take this opportunity to celebrate the launch of Quiet Revolution, embrace your quiet strengths, find your tribe, and add your voice.
To start, here are three posts that really resonated with me:
- Surviving as an Introverted Mother
- 4 Steps to Triumphing Over Communication Overload
- How an Introvert Learned to Connect
Also check out the Quiet Revolutionaries section (stories by readers who embody the spirit of Quiet Revolution: “strong yet gentle, firm but kind, they are as indomitable as they are unassuming”) – why not submit your own story?
Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True. Be YOU ~ and become a part of the Quiet Revolution! Help create a world where introverts are celebrated for their valuable contributions and, more importantly, for who they are!