Being an Introvert in an Extrovert Career

When I was in high school, I would oftentimes find myself finishing my classwork earlier than my peers. When this happened, my teachers would allow me to pull out a book and read. When I went off to UNC-Chapel Hill, there was a five-minute window each weekend when I would actually consider doing something that didn’t consist of Netflix and ordering Papa John’s. If my friends missed that window, then I was finishing my Doctor Who marathon without guilt, and – I’ll admit – a little relieved.

I used to think being introverted and shy were the same thing – I won the personality lottery and got both, huzzah – until the end of my first year at Carolina. I watched this magnificent video from the 2012 TED Talks with guest speaker Susan Cain. She spoke about her personal experiences as an introvert before going into this research-backed explanation about what it meant to be an introvert living in a world where extrovert was the preferred personality type. I honestly felt as though I had discovered a piece of myself. I wasn’t weird, broken, mean, rude, a loner, disengaged, or all of the above. I was just an introvert.

The reason I share all of this is because I think, in our personal and professional lives, we’re communicating with a myriad of personality types that can make fostering an environment that’s efficient and comfortable seem impossible. My personality type in the field of public relations, oftentimes, feels like one people don’t expect to run into, and then they’re unsure of what to make of me. But it has been a fun and interesting journey to accept the challenge of becoming a PR professional.

I’ve been fortunate to find positions with people who are not only aware of the number of strengths and personalities people can bring to the table, but embrace and encourage it. In fact, Kim McKeeman and I went over time during my interview talking about personality tests and being introverts. And to see how she has flourished in her career with a personality like mine has been inspiring for me, and I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to share similar wisdom with old peers of mine interested in pursuing PR.

Understanding yourself and others can change your entire perception of the world if you let it. I highly encourage some personality tests to help: Myers-Briggs is a popular one. (Myers-Briggs also comes with fun character combinations based on your score that tell you what Disney Princess or Harry Potter character you are!) If you have the resources, I also recommend StrengthsQuest and True Colors. I think the best place to start is to learn about yourself first. For me, doing so has given me confidence and motivation to stop comparing myself to others and do what I do best. From there, I like to be able to understand why people may think or do things a certain way, which is where doing personality tests in a group can become insightful and fun.

Of course, personality tests aren’t always accurate and they fluctuate as we grow up and change. My most recent scores are from the spring of this year, and are vastly different from the scores I received the spring of my first year of college. There might be details that don’t apply to me, but ultimately my results are scary accurate.

Based on these tests that I’ve taken, I am:

  • Myers-Briggs: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (INFJ)
  • True Colors: Gold (with a hint of Blue)
  • StrengthsQuest: Strategic, Deliberative, Discipline, Restorative, Futuristic

What’s your personality type?

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