“V” is for Vulnerability. Most of us are conditioned to shield ourselves from vulnerability, especially as Introverts.
The fear is that if we open ourselves up, we will invite unwanted criticism. This is a real possibility but more likely is the opposite: Praise or at the very least understanding.
Here is an example from my own life. I used to get really frustrated by the assumptions people made about me, especially at work. “She’s so quiet” or “No one really knows who she is”. You see, I happily wore the social mask of reserved but professional (and don’t come any closer please). This worked well for the most part because I worked with a lot of people who wore the same mask. Not showing emotions was implicit and to do so invited possible peril (as in “there’s no crying in baseball!”)
One day, out of pure exasperation and quite possibly anger, I came across this article that changed every thing for me. The title is “Revenge of the Introverts” by Laurie Helgoe, Ph. D.
I actually saw this a few years ago on the cover of Psychology Today magazine when I was in the grocery store Reading this article was confirmation that there was in fact, nothing wrong with me and a lot right with me. This illumination was only the first step. The next step was the harder one which was me deciding to share this information with my coworkers, in a meeting, as a speaker. Sigh. Not my favorite venue but I was willing to open myself up, to be vulnerable so that I could finally be heard and hopefully understood a bit better. The result? I saw something click in the audience. It was more than polite nodding of heads. I could feel resonance in the air. The door to understanding was opening if ever so slightly.
This simple act gave way to a stronger sense of confidence in myself. I began to push against the extroverted dogma that dominated my work environment and began to speak up more and more. This increased my “visibility” and got me noticed. I was given more responsibility, a lot more in fact because I cared enough about myself to show who I really was and without apology.
This is why Introverts need to be willing to be vulnerable. If you want change, if you want to be understood, you have to open yourself up, in increments if you have to. I know you may feel that you shouldn’t “have” to and you honestly do not. However, I truly want more of us to be understood. It’s been my experience that vulnerability can be a good thing, when you are ready and if you want to realize lasting change.
Please share with me in the comments ways in which you have or are willing to be vulnerable.
All my best,
Christian Marie Herron is and Executive Coach and Personal Development Strategist. She is the owner of The Introvert Ideal and specializes in helping introverted professionals build success by embracing and leveraging natural strengths. http://www.christianmarieherron.com/