Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Breaking out of your comfort zone: introversion in an extroverts’ world

  Posted on: November 27, 2017

Quintessential quiet leader Daveen Panasar receiving her Bachelor’s of Science degree.

Introverts often take a backseat to boisterous and busy extroverts. When it comes to emphasizing your personal attributes in classrooms, professional arenas, during networking events or the interview process, it is important to discover ways to reach out in a manner that fits your personality best.

Daveen Panasar graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science and is now in her first year in the UBC Medical Program.  The biology major was a Supplemental Learning (SL) Leader and a self-described introvert. “Introverts can be misunderstood or misread. Just because I’m a quiet person doesn’t mean I don’t have something to say. I love talking to people, sharing ideas and even going to large group gatherings. It is in the way I vocalize my thoughts that are different.”

Daveen continued, “It’s not about being shy or about not wanting to talk to people. It’s about needing time to reflect, being on your own and recognizing that you need to take a step back and you need time away—and that’s okay.”

She also participated in the Miss Quesnel Self Development Program in 2010, where she experienced a multitude of opportunities for personal growth that included public speaking, volunteering and networking. Those experiences did create a space to hone her skills. Daveen shared that while she felt anxiety before facing her fears; she was able to harness those jitters through perseverance and preparation. “It felt necessary for me to break out of my shell, but on my own terms, and that took practice, practice, practice.”

Having enjoyed teaching and tutoring in high school, Daveen joined SL even though she knew she would have to facilitate sessions for large numbers.  “As an SL leader, I wanted students to feel comfortable. That was important to me. In order to create an effective environment that was relaxed, quiet and yet productive, I would be welcoming and accommodating,” Daveen said.

SL Coordinator Elizabeth Templeman remarked, “Daveen was the quintessential quiet leader. At first, I worried that SL might be too much for her, but as determined as she was quiet and thoughtful, she proved to be an effective and well-respected leader.”

Daveen noted that empathy drives her motivations: “I recognized that some students were more reluctant than others. There’s a lot of missed opportunities if something is holding you back and keeping you on the outskirts of a situation.”

Daveen reflected on a recent case-based learning scenario, which occurred in a small group session similar to SL. “The bulk of the marks were participation-based. I kept receiving feedback: ‘You need to talk more, contribute more.’ I feel like I am engaging and absorbing the material. I’m just more a listener than a speaker.  It’s challenging, actually.”

She managed the issue by communicating her own learning processes to others, which has opened the door to conversations and self-reflection. “I think that everyone has a little bit of introvert inside them, and I encourage people to consider that, because it may change the perception of the word.”

Daveen’s own awareness about introversion drew from workshops Counsellor Cliff Robinson provided for SL leaders. She learned the value and pleasure of collaborating with those who balance another’s own tendencies. She came to recognize her partnership with fellow student and SL Leader Jasica Munday in that light. Besides being SL leaders and mentors together, the two co-presented at the 2015 CACUSS in Winnipeg.

Collaborating with a social opposite during networking scenarios allows both personality types to shine.  Extroverts can work the crowd, while introverts can participate in a more observatory manner. When debriefing after, the unification of both interactions will make for a well-rounded experience.

The future doctor is considering family medicine as her chosen practice. Daveen likes the idea of building long-term relationships with patients. As an avid and enthusiastic learner, Daveen is thrilled to foresee a lifetime of learning as medical advances continue to change: “It never fails to amaze me just how much knowledge there is to seek. Especially now that the work is so specific. It’s very rewarding.”

Check out the website for more information on Supplemental Learning.


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