I’ve had a revelation, my friends.
The more multi-passionate you are, the deeper your roots.
I’ve been reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain this month and while I still have so much to process from this book, I wanted to capture my immediate thoughts in this newsletter.
Many moments stood out (and I’ll get to more of them later), but one idea that really connected with me was this: introverts are often not interested in a topic, but more interested in your perception and thoughts of the topic.
The biggest struggle I’ve had in my personal branding pursuit was finding a topic I liked to talk about. A niche I wanted to position myself into. A skillset I wanted to hang my hat on.
Partnerships? To an extent.
Project management? Also to an extent.
Entrepreneurship? Yet again, to a certain extent.
I wrote about this last year in my post, Personal Branding for Multi-Passionate Professionals. It was the first time it began dawning on me that try as I might, I wasn’t interested in becoming an expert in a specific field or an industry maven of some kind. As I shared, “I’ve sat in this space for a long time… wanting to build a personal brand, but not knowing which one of my passions to commit to. Slowly realizing that there’s a deeper thread beneath everything I do.”
This book validated that approach for me. That finding one surface-level niche will never fulfill me because what feeds my soul goes much, much deeper than a single topic or job or passion. As introverts, we are deep thinkers. We are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling as opposed to extroverts who are drawn to the external life of people and activities.
And when the majority of the population is extroverted, the minority—introverts, of course—can start to question why they’re not interested in the same things as their peers.
“Sometimes speakers need to talk about subjects that don’t interest them much, especially at work. I believe this is harder for introverts, who have trouble projecting artificial enthusiasm. But there’s a hidden advantage to this inflexibility: it can motivate us to make tough but worthwhile career changes if we find ourselves compelled to speak too often about topics that leave us cold.”
I think what made me great at partnerships was that I connected with my partners on a deeper, philosophical level. I got to understand their personalities and what goals were authentically important to them. It’s why, when having to decide between managing the (extroverted) heads of App companies vs. the (introverted) founders of boutique agencies, my unflinching commitment was with the latter group.
It’s also why—and I’m realizing all this in hindsight—my greatest career fulfillment has come from working directly with founders. To be motivated, I have to be close to the soul of a business. It’s why coaching professionals to pursue their creative passions over climbing the corporate ladder is the greatest source of joy in my week. We’re paving our own success path in an extrovert-run world.
So, what is an extrovert-run world? It’s a world motivated by power and reward.
Susan Cain shared that extroverts are highly motivated by achievement and status and climbing to the top of the career ladder. It made me wonder—maybe some people genuinely love climbing the corporate ladder? Maybe it’s not so much an outdated pursuit, but is simply becoming less popular as more introverts start taking up space in the world?
The internet has opened up doors for us.
“The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.”
From day one, I have always said that social media for me was a way to squash small talk from my life. When I bump into someone, it steers the conversation away from “So, what’s new?” to “I saw you just did this thing!”
What I share on Instagram helps curate the kinds of conversations I have in real life.
And this newsletter? Game changer. It has so wonderfully created an open invitation for everyone to bring their existential life musings my way. What joy!
“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic.”
While I do love a good boujee splurge, ultimately, a serene ambience and deep conversation is my forever ideal. And if you really think about it… isn’t that what boujee living actually affords us? A lifestyle that’s less crowded, less rushed, less loud. When I walk into a designer store, I feel at home. It’s calm, the conversation is real, and the experience tickles all my fancies. But an overcrowded, fast fashion, “on clearance” store? I couldn’t tell you. I avoid those environments as best I can.
But living a peaceful life and pursuing slow success can sometimes feel like living in an alternate reality. Because maybe it is? The biggest realization I had from reading Quiet is that there’s a thing called “the Extrovert Ideal”. Everything in our society is built for the extroverted personality: the way promotions are rewarded (for the loudest, not necessarily smartest people); the way our government is run (by those who have the stamina for a lifestyle of constant campaigning); the way our school system operates (grading students on speaking, presentation, and group work); and even down to how we socialize (pushing a friend to drink on a night out is essentially saying you want them to be more extroverted).
In Asia, a quiet person is regarded as a deep thinker.
In North America, a quiet person is assumed to be dumb.
Let’s not lose our inherent depth just because of the accepted norms around us.
Let’s continue pushing the quiet revolution by sharing more of our inner magic and then, most importantly, attributing it to our introverted powers.
I’m as guilty as anyone of this, regularly referring to myself as an “extroverted introvert” to somehow explain why, as an introvert, I’m a functioning member of society and not an awkward mute. It shows my own lack of belief that an introvert can be charismatic and engaging. From now on, I’m dropping all the explanations and leading with “introvert” proudly.
I see such a similarity with the feminist revolution and being a woman in a man’s world. Just like I’ve explained away my introvert-ness, I have also explained away by woman-ness. I used to—regretfully—call myself “basically a man in a woman’s body” to explain my calm, rational, logical mind and inadvertently pushing the narrative that all women are dramatic and overly emotional. Ugh! It’s why these days, I am so proudly showing up with all my femininity, so that I can do my part in showing the world that women can be rational and calm.
What do we think? How many minds will blow as we collectively wake up to the reality that charismatic introverts and logical women exist—and have existed—all around us?
I say we start blowing some minds!
It’s time to start building our dream lives on our own terms outside of the extrovert ideal, and doing it in a way that fulfills our introverted hearts and displays our introverted powers.