UpSkill: I Know An Introvert With High Self-Esteem
By Tithi Soni
Let’s break a myth with this blog…
Quiet introverts are thought to have low self-esteem; they value themselves in pennies; and they refrain from taking a stand. But I know an introvert with high self-esteem.
Silence is underrated. So are introverts.
People have a misguided idea that extroverts have high self-esteem because they’re talkative, tend to be louder, and appear more up-beat and enthusiastic. But that’s not true. They too feel incongruous like anyone else. They’re not always comfortable speaking up, but they tend to do so because we expect it from them.
So, what is the key difference between an introvert and an extrovert?
There is one key difference. Let me tell you about an introvert that I know, her name is Jenny.
Jenny’s an Analyst who works at a bank. She’s taciturn, shy and describes herself as sensitive and empathetic. A good breakfast sets her day just right. She loves reading books, takes pride in comforting people when they are stressed out, and enjoys a pleasant walk outdoors.
She always keeps in close touch with her friends and, if needed, she’s willing to go above and beyond to help others, especially her colleagues. They love her because she gets things done. However, when it comes to taking credit, she doesn’t think it’s crucial to crave recognition by attaching her name to every accomplishment she helped to achieve. She firmly believes that ‘as long as it’s done right, that’s all that matters — or maybe it’s because she’s so modest.
Jenny is less concerned with standing in the spotlight although she is very self-aware about her worth to her team. She knows the strength of her contributions and skills. She knows that she can do her job as well or better than anyone else on the team. She believes that she has what it takes to be an effective leader. She is assured of her capacity for problem-solving, thinking critically, and considering shifting perspectives whenever needed. Some days she looks back with pride and reflects on the depth of her specialized knowledge compared to anyone else present in the room on any given day.
That’s Jenny at work – using fewer words, listening more, constantly developing her skills and competing with herself.
That doesn’t make her someone who is low on self-esteem. That only makes her who she is. There’s nothing that she needs to ‘fix’ by saying more.
Sometimes she speaks less in meetings because of self-doubt, only because she prefers to be certain about a topic before offering an opinion. But, oh boy, when she feels prepared she doesn’t shy away from adding her voice to conversations even if her opinion may be difficult to hear.
There’s only one key matter where she does things differently than a ‘typical’ extrovert — showing her confidence in ways most people ‘think’ confidence should look. She knows that she’s uncertain of how to put herself ‘out there’, how to claim ownership, how to replace ‘We’ with ‘I’. Because of that, people are too eager to tell her: be more assertive, become more involved, speak up more, be more of this, or be more like that.
In the face of that constant feedback, she still chooses not to take it in; it feels right for her to be a part of the crowd. Her self-esteem is fueled by the way she thinks of herself, not by the way others think of her. She feels okay to listen more and speak less and then, only when she feels confident in what she has to say or if asked for her opinion. That’s Jenny, an introvert with high self-esteem. We all should have a ‘Jenny’ in every team.
For all the ‘Jennys’ out there, we understand you, we respect you, we see you. We’re sorry for those who’ve misunderstood your silence or taken that silence for granted. We’re sorry for those who declared your voice, the voice of introverts, to be a voice of ignorance.
To them we say – silence can also be a powerful voice of knowing.