Throughout my childhood and into my teens, I always saw myself as an extrovert. Not many scenarios made me feel shy. I frequently won competitions for public speaking cuz I loved nothing more than the spotlight. I once beat out 200 kids to get 1 of 2 roles on a community based children’s TV show (that quickly thereafter got cancelled…but I digress).
But as I entered into my 20s and found myself gainfully employed, in a setting where opinions, sharing lots of opinions, was valued, I was forced to ever so slowly and quietly begin doing some self-examination.
I remember very clearly when my boss (incredible human being that he was/is) took me aside after one meeting and politely told me “You need to speak up”. I’m not sure I said a word in the prior meeting. Yes, I was suffering from insecurity about my ideas when surrounded by a group of kick-ass, forward thinking people, but I remember also hearing a very quiet, very distinct voice from inside that I couldn’t quite place and thusly chose to ignore.
Twas my narwhal.
The only idea that my narwhal did provide that I did hear: What’s wrong with being quiet?
Fast forward to 15 years later. Still in a job where opinions are currency and quiet leads to employers questioning why you’re getting a cheque. I have taken what my boss said those 15 years earlier and ran with it; not worrying so much about looking stupid but instead having the courage to throw ideas into the atmosphere and not worrying if they suck. I learned a lot of them didn’t and that confidence allowed me to keep talking.
And while I continue to confidently speak up for myself and my ideas, with age I am starting to slowly understand what my narwhal represents. And I don’t know if it has always represented the same thing but at present, I believe my narwhal represents my inner introvert.
I like quiet. I like to listen to people talk. I don’t feel the desperate need to share about myself or utilize 50% of the conversation space. I can keep a conversation going, usually, but if someone wants to sit in quiet, that’s cool too. And again with age, I think I am going through a second phase of confidence where I’m really happy and comfortable knowing that I’m a bit of an enigma. Quiet on the inside; loud on the outside. There might be a candy bar reference here I’m missing.
I call that enigma my narwhal and as I continue to figure her out, I feel like she will continue to guide me to where I feel the most like me. Without job pressures or societal pressures telling me what it should look like.
My narwhal will represent my introverted side. And I love her.