As a kid, I loved playing outside, taking charge of which games we would play and leading friends to adventures such as climbing walls and trees and planning parties. I loved being active and around people. But, at the same time, I couldn’t do that nonstop and wanted time out. Time to retreat and be with me, craving privacy, perhaps listening to music or reading or writing in my journal. While I was comfortable in large settings, I almost always stayed silent when too many people were talking while animatedly chatting away with 1-2 people elsewhere.

When we are kids, we don’t understand the difference in behaviour based on environments and expect consistent behaviour from people. I would often hear polarising comments about me, such as she is so fun and always comes up with ideas on what to do while some would say she is so quiet and doesn’t ever participate, I think she is snobbish.

I myself didn’t understand me. So I learnt to cope. I started pushing myself, pretending, trying to showcase a persona I never really had. But the older I grew, the more in tuned I became with myself. I realised while I liked organising parties, I didn’t really want to be the last one to leave (which I would force myself to be in the past). I also learnt that while I liked going to social events, I really didn’t want to get a word in just because everyone was talking; I am comfortable listening or contributing based on my interest and energy levels. Another valuable lesson I learnt was I don’t have to constantly be someone else in order to be liked and accepted; my tribe is out there. As soon as I accepted this, it was amazing how many true friends I made with whom I just belonged. And finally, I stopped being a people pleaser. I understood my need to be liked and accepted, and I also understood who I am. And unless I am liked for who I am, nothing else was good enough.

But all this didn’t happen overnight. Perhaps like many, I also didn’t want to be labelled as an introvert. I mean, being introverted means you are shy, quiet, boring, nerdy, and totally not cool. Who wants to be that? Right?

So it was rather revealing when I took a personality test the first time and realised that I was an ambivert but firmly planted on the introverted side of the scale. And for the first time everything made sense. Me being analytical, talkative in small settings while quiet in larger ones, why I could present on stage but hated networking afterwards, I had few but really strong relationships, and how my ability to listen and observe made me more sensitive to what was happening in the room and pick up on things that wasn’t being said.


I finally also understood the dichotomy in people’s perception of me. Based on which setting they interacted me, they likely had seen a different version. It all started to make sense.

What also started to make sense was my extreme preference to have time to myself. Why I was so comfortable sitting beside a stranger on an airplane and not feel the need to talk. Why I deliberated before I made a decision, but once I made it, I followed through. Why I noticed and cared more than others.

Rising up the ranks in the corporate world was hard.
Beside the usual hard work, navigating politics and building relationships, managing profiles and seen as a leader was hard. It was hard only until I started to fully own who I am, I mean 100%, step into that, and be in integrity with WHO I AM. Then, everything was easy. I knew what gave me energy, I recognised my strengths, I worked on my development areas, and fully and confidently owned the fact that I am an introvert. Yes I am not an extreme one but an introvert nonetheless.

This created a different reality for me when I trained as a coach. I started noticing the quiet ones at work – you know the ones who put their head down, do amazing work, but don’t shout about it? Yup those. And while my journey was different and difficult, I yearned to make it easy for them. I realised, if I wasn’t an extreme introvert and it was this difficult for me at work, how hard was it for them? And that’s where my journey of helping introverts began. The more I research and understand introverts, the more determined I am to want a world where they are understood and have the ability to shine without unfair expectations of the world of them.

So, if you are an introvert or a confused extrovert (aka ambivert) like me, get in touch. I would love to have a chat!

And if you are an extrovert reading this blog nonetheless, let’s have a chat and see how we can work together to broaden your understanding of introverts – I bet there are many in your team. Or even better, do a training where we raise awareness so everyone can recognise and appreciate each other. Get in touch.

Categories: Growth, Leadership, Personality types