According to the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, I fluctuate between an ENFP and and INFP in personality types. If you aren’t familiar with the test, 1. take it here because it’s the coolest tool for self awareness 2. I want to know your inner workings as a human so I can cross check and see if we’re compatable enough for us to be best friends and 3. that means temperamentally I’m equal parts introvert and extrovert. Sometimes I find myself speaking at rallies feeling like I’ve downed a crate of Red Bull and other times I have to pump myself up to ask for a free sample at Costco. I’ve had to hide a lot of these anxieties because when I reveal my weaknesses (other than my creaky knees), I am informed that if I want to be Miss Michigan/Miss America/supreme court justice/ car designer/an adult/a human being I need to ‘deal with it’.
Modern day society values the charming extrovert; but what is this elusive character? Simply put: introverts are internally driven and drained through social interaction. Where extroverts are rejuvenated and energized being in large crowds, the introvert shrivels and keels over. This does not make us less tenacious, capable or passionate about issues, we simply just interact with the world in a different way. My energy level internally as Miss Michigan at any given appearance is akin to the the shelf life of a ripe avocado. Externally, on the other hand, I’ve found some helpful ways to fake it ’til you make it. Introverts want to make a difference in the world too, and unfortunately for us that means learning how to navigate a life out loud; here are a few tips on how to survive from my experience in ‘the real world’.
Do not think you are inadequate
Introverts have a tendency to believe that everything they say has to be profound. If it is not conducive to anything productive or ground-breaking enough to win a Nobel Prize, we will not speak. More often than not I will zone out during class trying to formulate the perfect question to ask during open discussion and by the time I’m ready, class is over and everyone has left the building 2 days ago. Guaranteed, we’re usually beating ourselves up inside too for being unable to engage, for being called creepy, awkward or aloof. For those who fluctuate between bouts of introversion and extroversion, the failure to engage in the way we know we sometimes can is that much more devastating. If you’re a newbie in any pageant system, you’ll often feel pressured to be approachable and engaging, do not be intimidated by these thoughts if that’s not you! Even more valuable than fulfilling a pageant stereotype is to celebrate your best self. Although it’s tough, remember that you are your own biggest critic. Soon enough, you’ll blossom too when you’re ready; carry on, you quiet sage!
There are going to be a lot of things you do not want to do to forge your own path in today’s world. You will sweat a lot and you will be exhausted. Making an impact in the world is going to take some guts and a lot of proactive human interaction. Networking doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and advocating for a platform you are passionate about isn’t something that you can wait around for. Try to remember that being a pageant titleholder gives you an immense advantage in the marketing world; appearances, events and opportunities are at your fingertips… if you take the initiative. Competing in pageants will give you the opportunity to exercise those skills until you snag yourself and shiny hat. Try to challenge yourself and reach out to one new organization or person when you feel yourself plateauing. You may be rejected and ignored, but it could be a jumping off point to a place your wouldn’t have thought for yourself.
Play to your strengths