An interesting discovery I have encountered while reading comments on other blogs is that several of them have claimed to be introverts. When you think about it, it makes quite a lot of sense. As Pauline from Reach Financial Independence, replied to one of my comments about relating to her as a fellow introvert, “I guess it is easier for introverts to communicate behind a screen.” While many claim that the technology revolution has decreased the amount of face time, ie face to face interaction, at the same time perhaps it has made us appreciate the live connection made when one meets up with someone for a coffee or drink. To keep in line with the subject of this post, perhaps it has also enabled introverts to find a way to communicate effectively without fear of being judged and being criticized, seeing people’s expressions and reactions.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a shy person. My parents constantly remind me that they often asked the kids if I could play with them because I was too afraid to ask them myself. I had a crush on a guy in high school for almost four years, but never had the guts to ask him out. Of course, it didn’t help either that he was also shy.
Although going away to university has made me open a little bit more, I still find myself feeling quite shy and awkward in certain social situations. Now the friends I have had many years would scoff at me from time to time would insist that I’m not shy. But then I point out to my university friends, the reason I became friends with them was that they started talking to me first. I was never one to approach people directly, even to this day. I am not comfortable approaching complete strangers or am able to build strong relationships right from the get go. This is probably one of the reasons why I was never very good at sales or at being a social butterfly.
With that being said, does being introverted or extroverted, determine what job is suited best for you to a certain extent? My first job out of university was working in the project management department for a pharmaceutical company. It involved a lot of interaction with the external client. I was not very good at making small talk and interacting with people I barely knew. Needless to say, it was not my cup of tea. I found jobs that didn’t require a lot of negotiation and socializing were more my cup of tea. At least I think they are for the time being. I know networking is critical in one’s career, but I feel I don’t know how. I don’t know the right questions to ask or the right people to talk to. Most of the jobs I have had, I have applied for on my own, without the help of a connection. Now I am by no means, bragging about it. Looking back at my two years of unstable employment, I wish that maybe if I had networked and had connections I may not have been in that temporary mess. Maybe I would have been a lot further in my career or in my life in general.
Ironically enough, in a couple of my relationships, including my current one, I have saved the guy grief and embarrassment, by doing the asking out myself. Why? I have no idea. I guess I felt that these guys were worth it to overcome my shyness (and indeed they were), worth getting to know better before some other girl snatched them up. More irony would be the fact that I teach fitness classes. Members often find it hard to believe that I am a shy person and say I don’t seem like it when I’m on stage leading the class. I still get a little nervous from time to time, but I know it’s my responsibility to be that enthusiastic, energetic motivator to the people that need it.
I actually get really nervous going to social gatherings where I don’t know everyone. I suck at those meet ‘n’ greet things. I feel anxious and uncomfortable if I’m not in conversation and everyone else is. I never know which one to join when I’m in the middle of two at a dinner table. I just sit and listen. I’m not a big fan of icebreaker introductions where you have to talk about yourself.
This may sound awful, but aside from the fact I sometimes decline invitations to save money, the other reason is sometimes that I want to avoid being social. It’s especially nerve-wracking when I only know the host and no one else and have made the brave mistake of attending the function on my own. It’s always handy to have a wingman to talk to when everyone else knows each other and it doesn’t look as awkward. I envy the people who are naturally good at being social.
Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? Do you think being shy holds you back in any way? Do you feel it can slow down your path to success?