My whole life, I thought I needed to be the loudest person in the room to be heard. Society tells us that being quiet is usually not the best, especially if you’re looking to be successful. Being outgoing and life of the party are associated with being vibrant, fun and confident. For a long time, I truly believed in this theory; I used to wonder if being quiet made me boring or dull.
Through a journey of deep self-discovery, I found that being a quiet introvert is far from being synonymous with lacking confidence, having less fun or being less vibrant. I learnt that my introvert personality comes with incredible strengths in deep listening and engaging with others one to one. I discovered how to nurture my intuitive self and in doing so made friends with the deep quiet within me.
When I left university, I applied for many jobs. Since I had an excellent resume and a fair bit of experience for a new graduate, I was also invited for many interviews. However, I didn’t get any job offers for a really long time. When I asked for feedback from my interviewees, I was told that they were worried I may not be confident enough, or I wouldn’t fit in with their loud advertising team. Admittingly, back then I may have also lacked a bit of self-confidence, but I couldn’t help feeling that because I was quiet, I was less than.
Eventually, when I was employed by a company, they really appreciated me and now I’m a successful entrepreneur running multiple businesses. Through rich personal development, life experience and forming a deep bond with my intuition, my self-confidence and trust in my natural identity skyrocketed. I put myself out of my comfort zones by launching a podcast and being active on social media. But, even after all this personal development, I’m still quiet and I’m definitely still an introvert. What has really changed is the relationship I have with the quiet in me. I no longer see it as a burden or a negative. I see it as a beautiful strength, a quality to be cultivated and appreciated on an ongoing basis.
When I was 12, my friends and I did a Dolly quiz (do you remember Dolly magazine?). It was called “How well do you know your best friends?” I aced the quiz. I knew what their favourite colours were, their favourite foods, their favourite movies and even their mums’ middle names. When I asked them about me though, they could barely answer anything correctly. I felt like I knew everything about everyone else, but no one knew anything about me.
Initially, I thought this was because I was boring. But looking back, I now know it was proof that I can be a great friend because I can listen. Many people hear but don’t listen. Really truly listen. When you’re quiet though, it’s easy to listen and perceive what people really want to communicate to you. There’s a saying that true friends don’t give advice, they only listen.
Many entrepreneurs, and people in general, struggle due to a lack of self-confidence — just like I used to. However, I’ve learnt that we all have intuitive talents that we can cultivate and nurture.
When I cultivated the confidence in my true nature as an introvert, I discovered that if I can relax and be authentic, I have access to a wealth of incredible introvert skills that I can harness to my advantage.
I realised that I have truly excellent listening skills. I feel like I can listen and be so present with people that I can pick up their energies and their moods. I feel aware about what’s going on around me and aware about my own relationships with these moods and energies. My ability to listen to others even led me to my current journey as a business coach. Chatting with countless entrepreneurs helped me hear what they needed; guidance towards a fresh mindset of self-belief and power in business.
I also discovered that I am excellent in one-to-one conversations and small groups. I enjoy the depth, connection and the subtle communications that take place. In my one-to-one coaching work, I am able to help people find what they need themselves. I don’t have to tell them, instead I help them find it out for themselves. I deeply listen to those around me and I help them find what they truly want to achieve. This means they, too, are able to find their natural qualities and embrace their strengths.
If I’d always been loud, chatty and outgoing, I might not have been able to have meaningful one-on-one conversations and hear this important need that I could fulfil. Plus, I certainly wouldn’t have the friendships I have now.
In larger groups, I prefer to sit back, switch on my listening and enjoy soaking up what’s going on around me. I no longer feel the pressure to try to be the centre of attention, and no longer feel awkward about being one of the quieter ones in the room.
I’ve also discovered that I am not the only quiet person who has struggled with thinking they are less than. Recently, I created an Instagram post sharing the power of being an introvert, and I was overwhelmed by the many DMs I received. One particular comment from a lovely woman stuck with me. She said she’s worried her colleagues think she’s dumb because she sits back and is quiet during meetings.
This comment broke my heart. It’s a direct example of the insecurities quiet people, like me, have around how people perceive us. Whether it’s that we’re boring, dumb or add no value, all of these self-beliefs are incredibly damaging.
Fortunately, I now know that just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean that I have to sit behind the scenes. I’ve worked through my limiting beliefs that I don’t deserve success because I’m quiet or that I don’t want to share what I feel and know because it’s not important. I show up in my own way and shine in my own way. I am the proof that there is power in being quiet when everyone else is talking!
Jessica Williamson is a mindset and business coach. She launched Ete Swimwear in 2016 and has grown a customer base that reaches over 46 countries.