The courage of introverts

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. There is no one more courageous than the person who speaks with the courage of his convictions.”

– Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Susan Cain

In light of news that my former employer will be laying off 500 journalists today, this quote reminds me how thankful I am about the career decisions I have made in the past three months. They have been incredibly scary. At times, quitting a good job, going back to grad school and taking a low-paying retail job felt like jumping off a cliff.

And yet, I knew something was wrong with my old job – and with the career I had initially chosen – early on. I felt it within my bones. I thought I could overcome my discomfort and “learn” to be better. I thought I could get over my cripplingly fear of walking up to someone on the street and pestering them with tough questions. I thought that with practice, I would become more personable and outgoing. When I realized that it was better to simply be me, and accept myself for who I was, making a change turned out to be the only reasonable path toward happiness.

I’m happy I was able to make that change. I’d like to think my introverted, “inflexible” nature played a part.


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