I consider myself an introvert. Introvert, in urban dictionary, prefers to spend time alone in order to recharge their inner being.
We always think thoroughly before we say or act on something. We form thoughts in our head, and we like to be isolated most of the time. In my industry, programmers are stereotyped as introverts. In our office, the devs are working with lights-out, with headphones and a hoodie.
The thing is, we often appear to be shy and timid, but in reality, small talks are not our thing, and these conversations draw down our energy rapidly.
The problem is when the energy becomes negative that results in social anxiety, heart racing, blushing, stuttering, and harmful scripts in our heads like we think others are judging us.
In social situations, we are often expected to speak out and socialize as if it is easy for us. We are pressured to be extroverts. And this cycle tends to repeat for us, and if we are not self-aware, then we limit ourselves into enjoying life and people around us. Some of us fail in pursuing our dreams because we are tolerating that negative energy.
To me, it’s a matter of becoming self-aware and turning that negative energy into positive.
Going back to the question, so what if we are introverts? There’s nothing wrong in being an introvert. In fact, super successful people like J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, and Warren Buffet are all introverts.
The thing that bugs me is that when you mix introversion and shyness/timidness. There’s a clear line between the two. Timidness, by definition, is lacking in self-assurance, assertiveness, self-esteem or courage.
As I said, there’s no problem in being an introvert. The problem is when you use the introversion as an alibi for not pursuing what you want. For being afraid to pitch your idea to your boss, to an investor or your colleague. For not having the courage to speak out when you see problems in whatever situation you are in. Your future is what at stake here if you tolerate those.
Let’s not try to change from being an introvert to extrovert. Instead, let’s turn our timidness into being assertive.
So, how do we do it?
Here’s some suggestions that I’ve been doing over the years:
- Make extra efforts to improve. This is not an overnight thing. You have to form a habit of being self-aware and being in constant research mode.
- Change the negative scripts in your head into positive. Scripts like, “I don’t look good”, “I am not that smart”, “I might fail this”. Change it to “I am prepared for this, and I am confident”, “I am calm and in control”. Repeat it over and over again before you engage into a conversation with someone.
- Practice. The best teacher is the experience. Make sure that you practice your presentation well enough the day before. Consciously invite people into small talks and conversation. I know you don’t enjoy it, but see that experience as a weapon when you are faced in a professional situation.
- Play good hip-hop or party songs before engaging. NBA players do that during shootarounds before the game. That establishes a good feeling and energy before starting the game.
To summarize, be proud that you are an introvert. Be pleased that you think things over before doing it. But make sure you are prepared during life-changing moments or interacting with people especially when you are pursuing your dreams or want.