Why do some introverts appear to be more extroverted than they let on?
This question was asked on Quora, an online discussion platform.
The questioner encountered introverts who acted like extroverts in their communication, openness, and sociability.
In this questioner’s mind, any acts of extroversion by introverts are treasonous.
It is us against them, and when you act extroverted, you have gone to the dark side.
However, there is a cadre of individuals who are secret introverts who move strategically.
They do not hide their introversion or deny it; they choose not to publicize it unless it comes up in general conversations.
In their minds, they do not view introversion in the same vein as other forms of inequality.
Secret introverts realize that aspects of introversion can be impediments to progress and choose to develop the necessary skills to move forward.
If upward mobility requires them to socialize in uncomfortable and unfamiliar settings, they are willing to do so.
Andre Sólo, COO at Introvert, Dear, a website for introverts, said:
…People do not believe me when I say I’m an introvert, and I have to educate them on what being an introvert actually means. But it is true that I’m no longer a wallflower. If I concentrate, I can even be the life of the party… But the biggest lesson was not about my social skills—it was about my introvert skills. Once I became outgoing, I had no shortage of invites. And the former unpopular kid in me wanted to go to them all. I spent long nights at parties only to come home and realize I had done nothing truly important to me. I had fun going out, but I felt empty… It’s funny that in order to accept myself as an introvert, I first had to build up my extrovert skills—but I think that’s how it works. When you confront your weaknesses, you discover a striking strength, and that strength makes you shine. You feel more in control of your life.*
Introverts who operate secretly are examples of how things get done quietly and without fanfare.
They do not lament about the disempowerment of introverts; they embrace what is their hardwiring and develop skills that are necessary to achieve goals.
Secretly, strategic introverts focus on achieving a higher quality of life because of their vivid imaginations. They excel academically and professionally and define their success by their body of work.
They “triangulate” by linking introverted research and creative process with the social necessity to bring good ideas to life through extroversion.
Strategic introverts create intellectual ecosystems because they are process driven, and all efforts are a means to an end.
Strategic introverts won’t tell you that:
Life is meaningless other than the meaning you give it.
For strategic introverts’ life is a philosophical journey where they assess hypotheses empirically. As existentialists, they view life “as is” and not as it should be. They give life its meaning because life is meaningless without tried-and-true concepts. Such idealism is left in childhood as they experience real-world pragmatism.
Their ambition motivates them to expand their skills.
Strategic introverts may dislike socializing or team building but will not let introversion impede their progress. They develop requisite skills because these advanced skills open doors and produce optimal results.
In the mid-1990s, I told a friend I wanted to be a motivational speaker but feared public speaking. My friend recommended that I join Toastmasters International to overcome my public speaking fears.
I joined Toastmasters International and remained a member for 20 years. If I had not envisioned myself traveling and teaching the world about success, I do not think I would have pursued public speaking if there was another way to achieve the goals I set out to reach.
Public speaking skills allowed me to do the unimaginable.
They work to create the greatest reward and value.
Strategic introverts strive to align work and play. Reading, writing, and sharing insights on social media is work and play for strategic introverts. Ultimately, creating intellectual property brings a sense of exhilaration and personal satisfaction for these introverts because it is a way of contributing to people looking for solutions to compelling problems.
They seek like-minded people to connect with.
Connecting with others may not be in strategic introverts’ plans because they would instead build projects alone. If connections are established, they must evolve organically or not at all. Strategic introverts’ experiences reveal that people must earn trust over time because the stakes are too high for unproductive people to be allowed in this intellectual sanctuary. You cannot choose your biological family, but you can choose the family that will inspire and support your goals.
Money and resources create freedom and options.
Strategic introverts tend to be minimalist. They use financial and material resources to aid in their aspirations. Contrary to popular belief, they can be as ambitious as extroverts in attaining financial independence.
However, they do not believe in being “showy” in wealth accumulation.
Dr. Thomas J. Stanley’s book, “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,” outlines the lifestyle of a wealthy strategic introvert. Dr. Stanley did not explicitly suggest that the book was written with introverts in mind, but the book is befitting for them based on their hardwiring and minimalist lifestyle.
Secret introverts are strategists who remain under the radar to achieve epic feats. They don’t hide their introversion; they merely keep it quiet.
As dominant personalities choose to live out loud, strategic introverts decide to live in the shadows, out of the sight of prying eyes.
So, the next time you see someone socializing but still appearing somewhat aloof, they might be a secret introvert.
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* Sólo, A. (n.d.). How growing my people skills nurtured my introvert skills. Quiet Revolution. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3wlvZAJ.