An Introvert’s Guide to Growing Your Influence
When I tell people I’m an introvert, they either laugh or shake their heads in disbelief – ako rin, actually.
I won’t even try to sugarcoat it, I can be loud and talkative…with people I’m comfortable with. I’m pretty sociable, and I find myself *awkwardly* pursuing conversations with strangers or acquaintances before the other party does. But, let me tell you something, I love my alone – a lot. I don’t mind being a wallflower in a crowded place. Riding the train at night is almost cinematic. Praying in tranquil streets is my daily communion with God. Tall bookstores and well-lit coffee shops – devoid of pilit conversations – are my haven.
So, why do I even bother?
Because, we are urgently called to live outside of the familiar. Growth is even more beautiful where we least expect it. We all have our own personal voices that need to be heard. And, nobody else can do that for us. I pray this for you: may you have the courage to dream and move big enough that you embrace the need of others, too.
- Know your strengths (and weaknesses).
Through the years, I’ve managed to make my blog into a ministry – praise God! It started with familiarizing myself with my strengths: writing and visual storytelling. Knowing my audience – mostly female high schoolers to young adults – helped me filter the content I continue to create up to this day. I also tried understanding how people responded to my brand, and I fully used it to my advantage. More than the effectivity of the work I produce, I’ve discovered that people stay with me because of my ability to empathize with them. Being relational is deeply essential to any passion.
- Choose a platform you’re comfortable with.
Speaking in front of an audience makes me anxious. I tend to lose my train of thought because I’m too focused on the possibility of messing up that…I actually do. Even speaking with my peers makes me insecure, at times. This is why I write. A blog allows me to lay out my scattered thoughts, edit, and proofread it until I’m content. As a perfectionist, this also means that there are less opportunities for me to make mistakes, since I can always hit the delete key. Writing also, strangely, gives me the comforts of anonymity. I can imagine people reading my words and not see me but, I hope, they see a part of themselves in it.
A great advantage of being introverted is the patience to listen. Listening is an act of humility. Seeking out people and their stories instead of rushing to speak and be heard is honorable and rare. By being intentional and being present, we gain the trust of others. By digesting what another party says – without prejudice and expectations – we make way for better understanding and genuine empathy. Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, it isn’t thinking less of ourselves, it’s thinking of ourselves less.
Read: Six Lessons in Good Listening via Desiring God
- Start small.
Start with a peer or a colleague you have similar interests with, and bond over that commonality. Begin a newsletter, and ask your close friends if they can be part of it. Once you’ve got the hang of it, maybe start a public blog. Create a podcast if you find that you’re more confident as a speaker. Put your illustrations inside books, and let people find you through that. Make short videos about your every day using your phone, tether these familiar moments, and post a vlog on YouTube. There are countless of ways to interact with other people indirectly – if that makes you anxious or uncomfortable. Just don’t rush it because it’s so easy to spot authenticity. More than aiming for influence, invest in your why. Let purpose be your foundation.
For a culture that tells us influence is limited to public platforms, sponsored posts, TED talks, etc. – no shade thrown – be that individual who chooses to focus on a single person, whose quiet impact does not scream for attention. If there’s one thing I continue to learn from this entire blogging shebang, it’s how any act of kindness is never wasted – here or in Eternity. It may not merit attention or praise but at the end of the day, a humble act of love and service – which refuses to douse itself in self-serving glory – will never be forgotten.
“If you’re feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the needs of the people around you today, begin changing the world by investing in one woman. Your one woman might actually be the little girl who sits at your feet while you wash the dishes. She may be the woman in the cubicle next to yours or the woman who lives down the street. She may be in your small group or a woman who doesn’t own a Bible.
It’s impossible to meet all the needs surrounding us, but by making a difference in one person’s life, our story becomes part of God’s story. By investing in another person what we’ve learned from Him, our story expands beyond our lifetime into eternity.” (Amy Carroll, The Quiet Impact of One Woman via Proverbs 31 Ministries)