The introvert leans in

Nature vs. nurture—which is more important? Where does one end and the other begin?

Will we ever answer these questions? Likely not in a way that can withstand even an ounce of scrutiny.

These questions—and others like them—are in my head as I read through Quiet by Susan Cain

The last decade or so I've spent fighting against my introverted nature. I couldn't help viewing my introversion as a defect or hindrance. The voices of others labeling me “antisocial” or focusing on all the things I'd likely never do, such as become the type of person capable of selling ice to an Eskimo, echoed in my head as I stretched to make myself something other than a wallflower.

The good news is I succeeded. To some degree.

I am now someone much more comfortable meeting new people and smiling through small talk.

The bad news is I can do so only in controlled doses.

But there's another piece of good news: I recognize and acknowledge these limitations.

As I get older, I am constantly reminded I have only so much energy for so many things. And I've reached the stage where my energy is best spent not on playing an extrovert, but on leaning into the strengths of introversion:

Observation.

The ability to see angles and possibilities others may miss.

Hesitation to sip the Kool-Aid.

These days I'm asking what parts of myself are worth the effort to improve, and what parts are better to accept. What parts of my nature should I lean into?

The message that people can change is powerful and inspiring. So merely accepting part of yourself as you are may seem defeatist.

But the effort required to change is best spent on things worth changing. And I'm not convinced compensating for introversion is worth the effort.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The introverts are all right.

#introversion

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