This is not an article about "I", just telling my story from the first person view, hoping this would help you to relate better.
I’m an introvert. Unfortunately, I have discovered this term and its true meaning quite late in my life. I have always been the person who talks less in a large group. I've always preferred to be either by myself or with a small number of people where I can build better connections. I need my space to be creative and I have always been facing questions like "Are you all right?!", "What is the matter?!", "Why are you so quiet?!" and treated like there was something wrong with me and I needed to be more social, more talkative. Now I know better!
Let’s set the definitions right first.
Introvert does NOT mean "shy", "socially awkward", "boring", "passive", "reserved", "uncollaborative", "loner"...
Introverts can be very social, outgoing, but not too often since it requires more energy for them. Introverts prefer less stimulating environments, while Extroverts crave a large amount of stimulation.
Btw, it is not a rare personality type, 1+ of every 3 people tends to lean more towards introversion personality. Just to name a few you may have heard of;
- Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft
- Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla & Space-X
- Warren Buffet, CEO Berkshire Hathaway
- Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple
- Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist
I used to be confused with how I was before, I have always been uncomfortable in crowded groups of strangers, struggled to make connections and do small talk, but I was able to give a confident talk and presentations to hundreds of people at public speaking events and design work presentations. These personalities in one body didn't make much sense to me. I thought as most people told me, I was socially awkward and I had to fix that. So I put myself in many uncomfortable situations, then I came across and read this book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
This is the book that introduced me to the term Introvert and its true meaning. I learned greatly about myself from this book.
- Helped me understand myself
- Helped me accept myself
- Helped me explain myself better to others
Knowing yourself well is unbelievably valuable!
I used to feel guilty staying at home with a book or a game instead of going out with people I hardly know one day after another, but then this line and the following section made me feel good with my choices.
”Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to”
- Quiet by Susan Cain
OK, so now I know I carry most of the characteristics of Introverts, but I also enjoy
- going out with my friends
- giving public speakings
- meeting new people
- experience new things
What about that?
Then I discovered that being an introvert or extrovert is not like being 100% one or another. We carry qualities of both personalities and mostly lean more into one.
I'd place myself as in the graph below. I enjoy occasional social environments, but most times I choose to be with smaller groups or by myself. This is the environment I thrive and be truly creative.
OK, so how do all these affect me as a Designer?
Here are a few qualities of Introverts relevant to being a better Creative;
1. Introverts are independent
I have been working from home for over 20 years now. People always judged me that I should be more outgoing and work in offices, and I do that, I enjoy these collaborative days, but not 9 am to 5 pm and 5 days a week. I use these days to present my work, get feedback in person and head back home office to do the design work. I thrive in my space without distractions.
Especially since the pandemic, more of us have found ourselves working from home. Many people took it hard, but it has been a very productive time for me.
2. Introverts are good listeners
I tend to listen more and talk less in client meetings, meetups. This helps me to better understand the user group and product owners by observation and to better understand the product by deeply focusing on what is being discussed. In another word, this makes me a more empathetic designer.
3. Introverts are thinkers
Similar to the previous point of being a good listener. I prefer to take my time to think before I speak or act. This has helped me in my work as I consider many details in my head before acting. This saves me time and an unnecessary amount of re-doing.
4. Introverts are very detail-oriented
As I deeply listen, observe and think, I gather a lot of information in my head about the product and user group, this gives me a lot of consideration to put in my design work with lots of little details to make the experience better for the user.
5. Introverts are good at focusing
Since we are deep into the project we are working on, we can focus on a task for a long period of time. As Albert Einstein, who self identifies as an Introvert, said
“It is not that I’m so smart, it is just that I stay with problems longer.”
6. Introverts have a strong imagination
Since we carefully observe the details and often find ourselves deep in our thoughts and worlds we have created in our heads, we tend to have a strong imagination.
I no longer think that being introverted is a flaw. I acknowledge who I am and use my strengths in the best way possible.
So, are you saying Introverts are better than Extroverts?
Absolutely Not. Both types have strong qualities and need each other to thrive.
So what now?
I just wish Introvert creatives would not be forced to constantly collaborate in large and open space work environments, not rushed to answer and act quickly, not treated like shy or socially awkward. We should do a better job to explain ourselves and find a good balance between where we thrive creatively and where we are expected to be by others.
Last words to Introverts and Introvert Creatives
You be You!
Live your life as you want, not as how society thinks you should.
Acknowledge your introverted nature, use the strengths of it.
Don't feel bad for choosing to stay at home and do your thing instead of going out one day after another.
If you are running your own business all by yourself or with very few people you are comfortable with, you have done an amazing job. Keep it up! Maybe try to explore some extrovert qualities.
However if you are an employee in a work environment, ↓
My fellow Introvert Designers,
Educate your managers, colleagues with what Introvert really means,
that you need your space to be creative,
that you need your time to think,
that your silence doesn't mean you are not interested in the subject, but you are observing and thinking,
that you don't need to change and you are a great value to the team with your introvert qualities.
FYI, this article includes affiliate links. If you use them, it won't cost you anything extra, but a small commission will be paid to me which will be used for this blog's costs. Thank you.