Why Introverts Shouldn’t Feel Limited in Their Career and Other Life Choices

This photo, “Working Girl,” is copyright (c) 2010 Sam Javanrouh and made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial license.
This photo, “Working Girl,” is copyright (c) 2010 Sam Javanrouh and made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Do you believe that you can succeed at most anything if you want it enough? Or is your life limited by various invisible forces, including the fact that you’re an introvert?

As a sociology major, I can’t really approve of the belief that anyone can achieve anything regardless of their economic situation, race, gender, etc. It’s a prejudiced world out there. But fortunately for me, this is a blog on introversion, not sociology. And I believe that introverts can find success in a wide variety of careers and make other life choices based on their wants, not others’ expectations. So hear me out.

A lot of career search resources will offer advice on “The Best Careers for Introverts” or similar. But you are a lot more than your introversion. Really. Let self-awareness be your starting point. If you want a career that happens to involve an aspect of more “extroverted” activity, don’t let that keep you away. You can overcome your natural aversion to schmoozing–and then go home, lock your door, and refuse to talk to anyone until morning. A lot of introverts prefer the idea of working alone and of course that’s a viable option, but it’s not the only option. If you’ve examined yourself, your talents and passions and needs, and found that your dream job is still one that’s usually considered more for extroverts, so be it.

Maybe I’m still just a student and haven’t yet officially started a career, but I’ve had positive experiences in jobs that involved constant human interaction–most notably when working behind the customer service desk in retail and supporting adults with disabilities in their home. I definitely got some slack for being quiet, but y’know what? I rocked at those jobs.

Introversion shouldn’t limit you in any way—except for if you choose it to. This means that if someone tells you that you can’t be the mascot for Oscar Mayer Wieners because you’re too introverted, you can tell them to blow this hot dog stand because it’s taken (as long as that is what you truly want to be).

Lists suggesting the best careers for introverts are useful because they’ll give you ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered. But they’re not useful when they try to paint all introverts as socially awkward to the extent that working away from others is what they’d be best at. Working alone is great if that’s what you want to do, but you can succeed in a job or career that involves any and all of the following:

  • public speaking
  • conference calls
  • cold calling
  • cold cut sandwiches (Subway, anyone?)
  • having strangers yell at you because their product is defective (good times)
  • shouting at kids to stop being brats/rowdy/generally unpleasant
  • and more (in case this list wasn’t exciting enough for you)!

So get out of your comfort zone to lead the life you want—not the life that’s expected of you because “extroverted” activities don’t come as naturally. At the same time, recognize the awesome traits that often come along with introversion: being attentive to detail, a good listener, and able to work longer by yourself without distractions. Don’t let any imaginary forces keep you away from something that you know you could succeed at and love—you’re much too valuable for that.

Next week I’ll post on a similar topic, focusing on how to embrace your introversion when working with others in class and at work. Until then, please follow my blog, and like and share it! And let us know: What other advice would you give to introverts in making a career choice?

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