Full transcript of Crystal Robello’s TEDx Talk: Being an Introvert is a Good Thing at TEDxStMaryCSSchool Conference.
I’m here today trying to be something I’m not, which is something I’ve been trying to do for two years now: write a TED Talk, share my ideas, talk in front of such a large group of people.
Now I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “She sounds a bit shy.” Or maybe, “She probably gets nervous easily.”
Yeah, all those things are 100% true, but why? To answer simply, I am an introvert.
So what is an introvert? An introvert is a quiet person that doesn’t like to talk very much and likes to keep their thoughts mostly to themselves. They’re the kind of person that goes home just to relax and have time to think. But that’s not to say that an outgoing person can’t be an introvert. Just as long as they enjoy the quiet time to get to themselves, they’re most likely an introvert to a certain extent.
So the main thing I want to address in this talk is that there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. However society doesn’t see it in the same lighting.
Society has taught us that being an introvert is the worst thing you can be and that everyone should want to be extroverted. We’re told that being outgoing is good and being shy and quiet is bad. We’re told in elementary school we have to raise our hands, participate in class or we lose marks. Every year at parent-teacher interviews, my parents would hear the same thing, “Your daughter is very shy, she needs to learn to speak up more.”
I was told to share my voice whenever possible. As an introvert, those are some very hard standards to achieve. This is why I joined the TED Ed Club two years ago, to prove to not only myself but to everyone that I wasn’t shy. I could write a talk just like everyone else is doing it. No big deal.
Slight problem, I never wrote a talk. I couldn’t come up with a topic I was truly passionate about that I felt like I wanted to share with the world. I would show up to every meeting and watch my peers continue to develop their talks and I would get frustrated with myself. Why could they share their ideas so easily and I couldn’t even come up with a topic?
Now, looking back, I realize I have passions, I have views on the world and I have opinions. I just didn’t want to share any of them because I’m an introvert. But is there anything wrong with that?
Statistics say that 50% of the American population is made up of introverts. So society is telling 50% of Americans — about 160 million people — that they need to change who they are to be accepted, to be successful and to be happy. Keep in mind, within this large group of introverts are people such as: Elton John, Emma Watson, Michael Jordan, Audrey Hepburn, Albert Einstein, and so many more incredible, inspiring people.
Do you think being an introvert has ever stopped any of them from achieving their goals or being happy? No. A lot of you have probably been told something along the lines of why be a follower when you can be a leader.
But what about every leader needs a follower? Let’s look at Mr. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. Do you think he’d be where he is today without the support of the people? If everyone was trying to be a leader no one would truly succeed as it’s the followers that define a true leader.
But that’s not to say that an introvert can’t be a leader. Let’s look at Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks and Gandhi. All incredible inspirational leaders and all introverts.
In a business setting, the CEO of a company will look at an introvert and say, “If they’re not going to share their ideas they are useless to me.” Well, guess what? These companies are missing out. Introverts are known to be versatile, responsible, work well in small groups and individually.
So being an introvert has no effect on how happy or how successful you are going to be as long as you see it in the right lighting. If you see yourself as an introvert and think it’s the worst thing in the world, you’re never going to be truly happy with yourself and you’re going to constantly try to change to conform to society.
But if you accept yourself as an introvert and you’re happy, there’s nothing in the way of you achieving your goals and getting what you want.
All in all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert. No matter what society may say, you don’t need to change who you are because being an introvert is great.
Before I leave, I want to end with a quote from the book “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” by Susan Cain. “The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, it’s a lamplit desk.”