3 Tips for Making an Impact as an Introvert

You’ve probably heard that the world is full of suffering people and injustice. We saw an example of this yesterday in Brussels, where senseless attacks have deeply impacted both people who live there and their allies around the world. We can see this everyday in the news and you can likely find some of it on the streets to some extent wherever you live, no matter how wealthy your city or town is.

Many people ache for justice to be served and for people who do bad things to experience a change of heart. Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not, you might agree with me when I say that often it seems like a miracle would be needed for things to change.

I believe that miracles can occur through the patient work of individuals and groups over time. Good will prevail over evil. But in the meantime, I’m often left asking myself this little question: What can I do now?

Me, a young person with a formal education full of a whole lot of theoretical concepts but not a lot of application. Me, a naive Westerner who grew up in a safe, middle-class community with limited exposure to the ‘real world.’ Me, an introvert.

I suppose the first two points are quite personal to my own situation, but the third one I want to address here–since it is the topic of this blog after all.

How can an introvert make an impact?

The short answer: in a countless number of ways.

Many introverts reading this don’t require any kind of push to get involved–they know where they fit, whether instinctively or through plenty of time spent trying to find their place. I’m still struggling with getting that right balance for myself, though, and lately I’ve been trying to remind myself of a few key things:

#1: Don’t develop a saviour complex

As an admittedly idealistic recent university graduate with a degree in Sociology, I often see things in everyday life that I know could be made better, if only. If only the people in charge had the right knowledge, if only I was in the right position or had the right skills to step in, if only this or that.

Often my thing is that I put myself down for not being outspoken enough. And you know, I could benefit from developing in that area, for sure–but I don’t need to. I don’t need to be all things to all people or all situations. That’s impossible. Lately, whenever my train of thought starts leading me to believe that I’m not something enough, I think of this quote:

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

-Anne Lamott

sj
Lighthouse in Saint John, New Brunswick. Credit: Me, 2015.

Which leads to the next point…

#2: Find out how you shine and own it

Yes, society needs people that are comfortable yelling into megaphones and who can deliver speeches to large crowds. But we also need writers. And artists–musicians and painters and etc. And people to listen, to research, to teach.

Of course some people get to see the fruits of their labour more readily than others do. Speakers get to hear their audiences’ responses immediately and often enthusiastically. Grassroots organizers get right into the action. If you’re feeling down that whatever your thing is just doesn’t produce the results that you want, take a step back and consider this: all those more ‘outspoken’ types got their motivation from something or someone.

Maybe it was from a book or from a good teacher or friend who believed in them. We can never know fully how our actions impact others, but we can take that leap of faith and believe that our actions done with good intentions will lead to good.

#3: Have a little patience

If you haven’t found your thing yet, or currently you’re a student or otherwise completely occupied and just don’t have the time to spend doing your piece, don’t stress. Trust that many good people are on the case now–and your time will come, too 🙂

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