I have always been shy and a bit socially awkward, ever since I was kid. It’s something I’ve always thought of as a flaw, something I needed to change, and to some extent I have over the past 13 years of studying and work, although it has taken a huge amount of effort. Yes, I have given presentations to a room full of people, appeared in court and attended many work and client functions, but no matter how many times I did these activities they always caused me anxiety and required me to force myself out of my comfort zone.
Today I was reading a magazine at the hairdresser’s (the only time I ever get to read magazines!) and there was an article in it about introverts. Apparently there are other people like me out there – people who find it hard to speak out, who feel emotionally and physically drained after being in the company of other people, whose friends and colleagues sometimes think they are aloof or snobby because they keep to themselves and don’t crave the company of others, and who are most creative and productive when allowed to be on their own to think their thoughts rather than when being involved in group discussions.
The article talked about how these people, these “introverts”, are often at a disadvantage in the workplace because they tend to keep their ideas to themselves rather than broadcasting them to everyone and so they are often overlooked or it is incorrectly assumed that they have no good ideas. Because of this, introverts often try to become extroverts because they think that is what everyone wants them to be. Or they become outcasts because their workmates don’t understand them. The article said that for this reason introverts often flourish in their own business as it allows them to work the way they need to without having to worry about how other people want them to behave. It also said introverts are often the most creative and imaginative people – they just need time on their own to evolve their ideas.
I suppose I’ve always recognised all of these things in myself, but reading it in black and white and realising that it’s not just me who feels this way was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. It sort of made me think that maybe it’s ok to be the way I am, maybe it’s not necessarily a flaw that needs to be fixed. As much as I know I am capable of running my own business I have always wondered whether being an introvert would prevent me from being successful, so reading this article gave me some reassurance.
It also made me think about the fact that most of the creative people I’ve met since starting my business do seem to fall a little bit more into the “introvert” category than the “extrovert”. Maybe this is why I have fitted so easily into this community and found so many people with whom I feel connected. Come to think of it, if all these amazingly talented and hard-working people are the “introverts” then introversion definitely can’t be a bad thing!
I think I just need to accept that I am an introvert and be content in the knowledge that, whatever people might think of me, the people who really get to know me will realise that the fact I like to work on my own or don’t want to be around other people most of the time or am happy to sit in silence rather than trying to make conversation isn’t me being unfriendly, it’s just the way I am.
Some of my happiest times are spent on my own, developing ideas, just thinking about things or reading a good book!