“You’re not aggressive enough to be in business.”
Though it wasn’t said with the worst of intentions these words, this, along with the many other quizzical looks I received when I told people that I was pursuing business, did sting a little. Here I was, telling people what I wanted to do with my life, only to have them tell me that I was “too quiet” to find success in the career I was planning to pursue.
It wasn’t like this was any new news to me either, all my life I have identified as an introvert. As a kid, I never felt entirely comfortable in large groups of people and needed my alone time to recharge. I was never the one to push to the front of the line or talk over others to make myself heard, I much preferred the background to the spotlight.
However as the time went by and I began the oh so scary process of thinking about my future, I found myself drawn to business. I felt this could be the place for me to exercise my creative thinking while also challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone and share my ideas with others. While I knew that my quiet nature didn’t quite fit the mold of the typical businessperson, I stood fast in my decision. And in a whirlwind of months later there I was, enrolled in my first semester at business school.
I was right, I didn’t fit the stereotype of the typical business student; I could never pretend to be as outgoing or downright talkative as so many of the people I encountered on campus. At first, I became increasingly self-conscious of my introverted tendencies. Why did it take so much more for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger than it did for others around me? Could I somehow capture some of this self-confidence that my peers seemed to ooze in abundance?
Having now neared the end of my second semester, I can say that it takes more than one type of person in any professional setting. Yes, you do need those outgoing people who can get the conversation rolling, but you also need the people who will be there to listen. Each role is equally vital, you can’t have one without the other. Through multitudes of group projects and other assignments, I have learned how to twist what I once considered being my largest weakness into one of my strengths, a blessing in disguise. Being introverted has helped me to become a better collaborator and bring to the table what some of my other peers cannot.
There is never just one way to accomplish anything, and it’s ok to break some stereotypes in the process. You don’t have to be the “typical” nor do you have to listen to those who try to deter you, create your own new definition of success. Only you know what you are truly capable of and embrace what sets you apart, whether that means being an introvert in business or anything otherwise.
Image Via CandidlyChan.com