Name Nikki Andersen
Random question: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? I’d probably be a silvery grey color. I feel that sometimes my personality is sparkly and elusive, whereas other times I am more reserved, guarded and boring. I think a silvery grey color encompasses the different shades and layers of me.
Are you a bold introvert? Yes, I am a bold introvert in the sense that I am comfortable with who I am, and am able to embrace my unique traits, differences, abilities and ideas. Although I identify as an introvert, I have always been conscious of bettering myself and pushing myself outside my comfort zone, whilst still being authentic to who I am.
Have you always been one? No, not at all! Growing up, I was far less confident and even more reserved and quiet than I am now. Back when I was in school people would ask me, “Why are you so quiet?” And every time they did, I felt like something was wrong with me. I’ve always enjoyed listening to others, observing the world and cultivating my inner self, and realised that not everyone else enjoyed the simple things I did.
There were two defining moments that helped me become a bold introvert. Firstly, stepping outside my comfort zone and public speaking has played a pivotal part in enhancing my confidence. I recently wrote an article tilted Introverts can be great public speakers too (here’s how)which explores my complicated relationship with public speaking. Although I’m a nervous-wreck of a public speaker, my public speaking experiences have made me realise that quiet people have a strong voice – that Ihave a strong voice and a strong presence, and am able to make a difference in my own gentle and influential way.
My second defining moment is having people believe in me and my potential. During my high-school years, I managed fast-food franchises after school and on weekends, and was always surprised to find myself in managerial roles over more extroverted and dominant personalities. And even when I entered the corporate world a few years later, I’ve often been entrusted with team leader and managerial responsibilities (e.g. looking after the budget, training and hiring staff etc.). The fact that CEOs saw my introversion as a strength and worthy of leadership was a turning point for me. When other people started believing in me and supporting me for just the way I am, I began to believe in myself.
What do you do? I currently have a “slashed” career. For three days a week, I am a librarian at an academic library, and am passionate about open education and digital inclusion. For two days a week, I am a HR Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and am passionate about accessibility, supporting disabilities and mental health, achieving gender equity, LGBTIQ inclusion, racial equality and inclusive leadership. I also casually tutor at-risk students at university.
Diversity and inclusion is a huge passion of mine. In my spare time, I occasionally public speak and freelance about disabilities, accessibiliy and mental health issues, particularly relating to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I also sporadically write. I have a blog called Open Pages but don’t contribute to my own blog very much. I mainly freelance for Introvert Dearand Highly Sensitive Refuge, which are blogs about introversion and being a highly sensitive person (HSP). Writing has always been a passion of mine. When I was younger, I used to write for emancipation, but now I write for empowerment. Words have always held so much power to me, and being able to express myself through the written word has really helped me become a bold introvert.
What are you most proud of? I don’t have a singular moment that I am most proud of. Throughout my life I’ve faced many medical issues, and the little things that people often take for granted have been my biggest accomplishments (even though they may seem so effortless to others). I have always been proud of my perseverance, my ability to try my best and my willingness to make a positive difference. Small victories have been my greatest successes.
Do you feel that your personality trait has helped you achieve your goals? If you asked me this question a year ago, I probably would have said no. Sometimes I feel overlooked because I’m not the loudest in the room and often have difficulty expressing myself in the moment and exercising assertiveness. However, I’ve reached a point in my life where I value my personality and the way it has helped me reach my goals. I’ve realised that people have a tendency to confide in me because I am an active listener and they feel comfortable around me, which is a part of my personality that I am slowly learning to appreciate. As an introvert, I feel I’m a good listener and observer. I am intuitive, empathetic, reflective and pretty self-aware, which are all qualities that have helped me achieve my goals. I also bring a lot of passion and dedication to my goals, both within my personal and professional life.
What advice do you have for introverts that are worried about chasing their dreams? My first piece of advice is just be yourself. When you’re content with being yourself and not comparing yourself or competing with others, people will respect you and your dreams will seem so much closer.
My second piece of advice is don’t put your dream on a pedestal. You need to shape your dreams, otherwise they won’t ever come to fruition. Break your dreams down – all achievements are made from small steps! Neil Armstrong didn’t wake up one morning and go to the moon. Lots of people had to go into NASA’s office, day after day, year after year.
Enjoy the small steps of chasing your dream. When you enjoy the process, you no longer feel intimidated by the enormity of your dream or by the scale of what you hope to achieve in the long term. With each small accomplishment, you will feel more confident in achieving your goals. So instead of worrying about how you’re going to accomplish your goal in the long run just ask yourself this: what can I do in the next eight hours?It doesn’t have to be very big. But if you don’t do anything in the next eight hours, what makes you think you ever will? And if you do decide to do something in the next eight hour, no matter how minor, you’re one step closer to reaching your dream.
Nikki Andersen is an Australian librarian and word-wrangler. She is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. She is also an INFJ personality and is interested in the intricacies of people and human nature.