Since the dawn of days, humans have gathered together to socialize and share, an exercise as old as time that has given us advantage over other animals. And, since the beginning of time, there has always been at least one outcast, attending the same event… geographically, at least.
Being introvert or shy has different meanings depending on when and where you ask, in latin-america it is often seen as rude or inconsiderate while other countries welcome keeping your business to yourself. Time has also changed how we see quiet people, in the ascension of neurodiversity, the lack of communication from an individual is seen as a sign of intelligence now more than before.
This change could be awarded to how the media portrays introverts as skillful and intelligent, but I think this is also linked to the rise of information technologies. An environment where being able to work independently as a part of a team that functions on itself is critical. But this is not limited to the workplace: hobbies such as videogames rely on the ability of the user to keep engaged on solitary and long sessions working to obtain a reward.
So, if introverts are the new black, why haven’t we seen the rise of the introverts?
Should we be making a call to arms then, rallying all the introverts to subdue the extroverts and the structures bounded to their view of the world?
Reality is much less dramatic than what we might think, as the struggle to come to peace with being quiet is more related to knowing yourself, than to fighting against who don’t understand you. The path to being whole has always been related to understanding why you behave the way you do.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The moment you understand you are not less valuable than others, you will understand you have misplaced your talents and, reduced the outcome of your efforts.
The best craftsman not only has the necessary knowledge and the best tools, but the wisdom to know when and how to use each tool. You must understand that a lot of the existing work environments are designed to endorse extroverts, with this in mind, you can design your efforts to be more efficient.
As an introvert myself (surprise, surprise), I have felt the urge to adapt to my surroundings and be more proactive, or team-player or one of the many terms the companies use to express what they expect from me. And even though you might be successful, often you will face the backlash of forcing yourself to fit a container you can’t.
For me, finding my path was attending a bootcamp.
I was introduced to Ironhack by a friend who wanted to meet my interest in the programming world, with a school who prides in being able to introduce people from all backgrounds to the tools and resources necessary to begin the path of becoming a developer.
The bootcamp forced me to stay focused on the daily tasks while pushing me to research several topics. I was using my natural behavior as a resource to improve myself instead of trying to tone it down to be apt for my everyday tasks. I was also exposed to a community of people from different backgrounds and personalities with whom I developed great relationships.
This was a game-changer for me, the first step on learning how to better use and take advantage of the peculiarities that make me who I am. The single fact that I can now direct my efforts to a goal using my skills as the vehicle is a new chapter in my professional, academic, and most important, personal, life.
I encourage the quiet ones, the observers, the lurkers and, the abstracted to keep trying, making smart efforts instead of big ones. The challenge is to realize your potential and apply yourself to a path that takes your characteristics and embraces it as the means to keep moving forward, and the reward is a a journey of self-discovery and evolution.
– By Hugo Gutierrez