If you’re in our inner circle, we may talk your ear off.
Do you have a close friend or loved one people label as “quiet” or “reserved,” but who can talk your ear off? Or are you that friend? Well, I have that person in my life, and I am also that person.
Now, I know I’m an introvert: I value my alone time, really listen when someone’s speaking, and tend to notice details that others miss. Plus, after I spend all day in work meetings or an evening in a group, I feel absolutely drained.
In fact, when I meet new people, I do mental math on whether I’m going to see them again and how frequently. That’s not because I don’t like people, but because I know how much energy it will cost me to really engage with them.
And yet, I often feel like I have a lot of thoughts to share with others, and sometimes I do! If some people think introverts are “quiet” and “reserved,” why do I have so much I want to say?
Why You Can Be an Introvert and Still Have a Lot to Say
1. Introverts have a rich inner world, full of meaningful thoughts and daydreams.
When people ask us what we’re thinking about, we might say “nothing,” but it’s probably not true.
At any given time, we might be full of ideas, images, memories, or observations — we just like taking our time to process them. We might also be considering the impact of the emotions we’re picking up from those around us, especially if we’re highly sensitive introverts.
These introverted traits — like our big ideas and empathy — are exactly why introverts make some of the best leaders. So while we may not want the attention of everyone in the room, we still have a lot to say, so to speak, when it comes to sharing our thoughts and visions with them.
2. Introverts open up more within our inner circle vs. around people we just met.
Introverts tend to prefer deep interactions over small talk, so we may seem quiet and reserved to those not among our “chosen few” (i.e., our closest friends), since we easily get drained from socializing.
As a result, we have to be discerning about how we spend our energy and prefer to have at least a few people in our lives that we truly connect with; they “get” us and accept us. When we connect with them, we may suddenly realize that we have a lot of “content” saved up that we didn’t realize we were dying to share with a trusted person.
For example, I always want to share some of my thoughts and experiences with my husband. I want to tell him about something I heard on a podcast or noticed about someone we both know, and I want to ask him questions, too. I don’t feel drained by spending time with him the way I would in other situations.
It helps that he is also an introvert and one of those “men of few words” in public. He’s also my best friend and gets me for who I am.
3. There are many different ways introverts express ourselves; they’re not all verbal.
All of that content swirling around within us pours out through the various ways we exercise our skills and creativity. It’s not just about talking or not talking.
The good news is, there are increasingly more places and ways to share with others that don’t involve verbal communication or an in-person meeting. Introverts can easily be social media or texting masters!
Many of us have seen articles, memes, or comics about how introverts react when someone calls us instead of texting or emailing (hint: please do the latter two). There is also science behind the way that writing is easier for introverts than speaking.
Some types of introverts are renowned for expressing themselves through writing, and some say introverts make the best writers (and that’s what I tell myself when I send in proposals for freelance gigs). When I write, in fact, I usually have to edit myself to say things with fewer words!
Some introverts also express themselves through art. As Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born character said about music, “Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it to have people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag.”
Many introverts truly have something to say, and we express it in various non-verbal ways — through visual arts, dance, poetry, and so on. For me, it’s been all of those at different times in my life.
4. Most introverts love to learn, then share about it.
Most introverts love to really think things through and absorb what we’re thinking about, so we tend to love learning: through listening, reading, and watching. We seek out meaning, so a lot of things we learn feel significant to us.
When a topic comes up that we are experts on or passionate about, that conversation will resonate with introverts. We might not jump into a debate or discussion, but we might think about what we could say. We might even put it in writing or share it with a loved one later.
When we know a lot about something, chances are that we’ll really contemplate it. For example, I got my graduate degree in International Affairs of the Middle East and spent about six months in Beirut, Lebanon. Recently, the tragic explosion in Beirut came up in the news and in talking with family members. Because of my personal experience there, I couldn’t just sum up my thoughts in a few words. I had more to say. Introverts tend to want to communicate nuances and the depth of the subject.
And a lot of us don’t just take in facts — we also gather wisdom over time. We tend to prize being true to ourselves. As we listen, observe, absorb others’ emotions, reflect, or look inward, we learn about life.
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5. Introverts may speak up when it really matters (even if they don’t want to).
Another place I’ve begun speaking up more than usual is at work. Although many introverts don’t like to be the center of attention, sometimes we choose to be when we think it will make a real difference, whether it’s to give input during a meeting, give a presentation, or even make small talk in the break room.
In my old job, they made me the team’s go-to public speaker for several years. I didn’t find it easy. I got nervous each time, but I learned to do it. I accepted it because I wanted to be a team player and share the expertise I knew I had. It still felt more tiring to me than sitting at my desk alone and churning out 1,500 words.
I also learned to speak up in work meetings. Sometimes, and I do mean sometimes, a meeting was the most efficient way for our team to plan projects and make decisions, and I understood that. I also knew that my leadership role made it important for me to participate — out loud. (I still felt exhausted after a day of meetings though.)
Or, when looking for a new job, we’re encouraged to attend career fairs or networking events. As introverts, networking does not always come naturally. Introducing and marketing ourselves to polite strangers over and over again makes us want to run back home. But, what if that one recruiter really has the opportunity we are looking for? It often takes connections to get a job these days, so again we adapt.
Like others, the events of 2020 have led me to pivot to freelance work from home, and wow, do I love it! I still have to participate in online meetings almost every day — and Zoom calls are draining for most introverts — but unlike some, remote work really makes it easier for me to stay focused.
As introverts, we are not always understood. We may even seem full of contradictions. But when you really think about it, wanting to express ourselves isn’t in conflict with being an introvert since we enjoy thinking deeply about things. (Plus, thankfully, there are countless other ways to communicate aside from verbally.)
In any case, introverts have a lot to say, and it’s important for us to do so and be heard (within our own comfort levels, of course).