An Introvert’s Guide to Success in an Extroverted World [Student Edition]
Ever wondered how to be successful as an introverted student? Follow this guide and find out for yourself!
Updated 24 May 2019
“The world has changed and now introverts have a greater chance of realising success — on their own terms.” — Goalcast
Introverts — often labelled the incompetent, shy, timid and unconfident. Always disregarded in an action-oriented, enthusiastic, talkative world. Being an introvert is not always easy, but it does have its perks.
According to Psychologist Carl G. Jung, the characteristics of introverts and extroverts are very different. Introverts prefer their own world of thoughts and need private space at times because interaction with other people drains their energy. Extroverts on the other hand, are social beings who get energised when they go to parties and interact with people.
As anintroverted student, you may sometimes find it difficult to collaborate with other students or to strive in an extroverted-celebrated domain. However, this could be because you are not aware of how to use your strengths to your advantage. Here are 6 ways you can do just that:
#1. Avoid study groups
For most introverts, working alone rather than in a study group is the best way to get good grades. This is not because they are shy. Introverted students have a solitary learning style and often prefer to brainstorm and solve problems on their own as it does not drain their energy.
Introverts enjoy studyingat home or in a quieter, more private place.This does not mean that they do not enjoy the company of others. They like being around people, however, noise and actions produced by many people can be overstimulating for introverts and they will need to withdraw after a certain period of time.
#2. Use your ability to listen
Generally, introverts have better listening skills and can develop an outstanding ability to pay attention to what people say.
If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably found yourself frequently surrounded by chatter in class while the teacher is teaching. Don’t worry, you’re doing the right thing by not participating in disruptive classroom banter. This is because your teacher or lecturer will appreciate you more as you really listen to them.
Paying close attention in class will not only get you in your lecturer’s good books, but it will also improve your grades as you will know exactly how to navigate your way around assignments and given tasks — since you listened carefully to the instructions.
#3. Ace presentations with practice
“Speaking is not an act of extroversion. People think it is. It has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.” — Malcolm Gladwell, speaker of TED Talk on “Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce”
Giving presentations can be devastatingly painful for introverts. Not because it involves speaking but because it requires interacting with large crowds. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t stop you from being an outstanding presenter.
Of course, preparing your slides ahead of time can help you achieve this. For introverts, preparation means much more than just researching and preparing slides filled withinformation. In order for your presentation to become second nature, understanding everything on every slide is essential. It is best to be familiar with every point, keyword, formula and fact — this way, if someone wants a deeper explanation, you can give one without any hesitation.
We’ve all heard of the old saying — practice makes perfect. For introverts, this is especially important as it can help combat nerves and assure heightened confidence. You’ll definitely need it!
Hold a pen or slide pointer while you’re presenting — it gives you something to grab on to. This will calm your nerves and help deal with shaky hands.
#4. Take time to recharge
One of the best ways to identify an introvert is inevitably by their preference to spend time alone.
Science shows that introverts need alone time due to their unique brain function and chemistry — so it’s perfectly fine if you want to skip a party you don’t really want to go to. This is because, for introverts, socialising is like using your phone battery. You use it until it is drained, then you’ll need to charge it to get it going again.
So do what it takes to be your optimum self, even if it means having to decline social invitations so that you can get some much-needed alone time.
DID YOU KNOW
Solitude has cognitive benefits too such as promoting productivity and problem-solving skills.
#5. Step outside your comfort zone
Many, including yourself, may associate shyness and fear with introversion. Take note: they’re not the same thing! Shyness is the fear of negative judgment whereas introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. Many times, introverts themselves have the tendency to think that shyness is part of their nature, thus allowing fear to take hold of them.
A quote from Susan Cain’s book The Power of Introverts depicts this perfectly for those who struggle with this: “Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There’s always time to be quiet later.”
Does this mean you should be a pretend-extrovert? If the situation calls for it, then yes. According to research, there are a majority of teachers who believe that the “ideal student” is an extrovert. However, this is unusual considering the many great thinkers who were introverts — Charles Darwin, Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, J.K. Rowling, Larry Page; none of them would have made “ideal students.”
While this stigma may seem unfair, it is true that we all need to fake it a littleso that we can get out of our comfort zones and do things we never thought we can do. Acting as an extrovert undoubtedly gives you certain advantages (e.g. participation marks and boosts your confidence when public speaking is necessary). After all, no teacher enjoys teaching students who are passive in responding or participating all the time!
#6. Take advantage of your written communication skills
“The birth of the internet and everything that has come with it has created an environment which allows introverts to thrive like never before.” — Goalcast
In this day and age of the internet, the world has changed to give introverts the advantage. If you are the kind of introvert who is much better at written rather than oral communication, give writing a try!
Online platforms are your best friends. It gives you the freedom to create quality content and express all your thoughts and ideas; it is a bucket to purge all your views and feelings into. All this couldn’t be done 2 decades ago.
Since most of the time isolation is preferred, some of the best career fields for introverts include:
- Online Writing
- Visual arts
“Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.” — Susan Cain
Success is not catered to any certain group of people. Rather, it is how you cater your strengths and abilities to navigate your way towards it. As an introvert, it is definitely possible for you to find success by using your natural introversion qualities to your advantage.
Introverts, unite! (Alone, in your own homes.)