People who have never met me in person will probably never realise this (because I’m such a loudmouth online), but I’m actually an incredibly shy person. In fact some people who have met me may not realise this at first, because I do my best to hide it, forcing myself to start conversations and ask questions.
I’ve learnt the hard way that forcing myself out of my comfort zone is the only way I’ll ever get noticed, and before coming to university I experienced first hand the consequences of not doing so; namely loneliness, isolation and, ultimately, bullying. My university experience and my embracement of social media has truly changed my life for the better, but deep down I’m still cripplingly self-conscious.
This blog post outlines the perceived positives and negatives of my introverted nature. I’ve written this blog post partly for the purposes of personal reflection (getting things down on paper, as it were), but also for the benefits of any fellow introverts who might stumble upon it, in the hope that they may take some wisdom from my thoughts or think about themselves in a different way. The post tackles cons first and pros second, in the hope of ending on a positive note!
The negatives of introversion:
- I often worry that people, even my own best friends, don’t like me or don’t want to spend time with me.
- I’m reluctant to speak about my own achievements, anxious of being seen as arrogant or boastful.
- A fear of confrontation makes it difficult for me to be assertive or hold people to account. This is particularly problematic when dealing with external business partners on behalf of my company.
- My self-awareness regarding the above issues often causes me to overcompensate, to embarrassing/disastrous effect.
- I could never work in sales; I’d spend every waking moment worrying about causing my client even the slightest amount of disruption or inconvenience!
- Sometimes I will avoid doing things simply because they involve some kind of social contact.
It’s not all bad, however:
The positives of introversion:
- My crushing self-awareness has given me a high level of emotional intelligence: knowing what to say and how to say it, no matter what the medium or context, is something that comes naturally to me. This is an obvious blessing not only in social situations but also as a marketer.
- I consider myself fortunate to be able to do things by myself, giving myself space to think. People who spend every waking moment in the company of others are missing out on valuable thinking time, in my opinion.
- My slight tendency to avoid social contact makes me appreciate spending time with friends and family all the more.
- As a teenager, spending more time than was normal in front of a computer and not out on the streets is definitely a contributory factor to my relative success with social media and web technologies. My first and only MySpace layout, for instance, was built completely from scratch using pure CSS/HTML, made to look like iTunes, and it was how I learned to code. I would love to show you what it looked like but sadly it hasn’t been preserved in the archives 🙁 Anyway, back to the point: I probably wouldn’t have the job I have today if I hadn’t been such a web nerd from an early age!
- Finally, I think social media is much easier to get right if you’re an introvert: sharing the ideas and content of others (something I’ve always done without thinking) is the best way to use this medium, and social media is a great way to have focused discussions with like-minded individuals. Perhaps the hardest bit (on a personal level) is successfully making the jump from online to offline by drawing upon the connections you make.
To summarise, I think introversion plays a large part in shaping who I am as a person and how I think about the world. To any fellow introverts who stumble upon this post: I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, or via Twitter!
(Extraverts are also welcome)