Most people find it hard to believe, but I’m an introvert.
As much as this might surprise you given my colorful outfits and dance moves, I am most happy and comfortable spending hours by myself or one on one with a close friend. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking: but ASHA, you’re not REALLY an introvert, you’re all over the place, doing events, and showing up online every day! But let me assure you: I AM THE BIGGEST INTROVERT YOU’LL MEET and turning more introverted every single day.
Yes yes, I can speak in front of a camera to hundreds of people on Instagram, but drop me into a cocktail party with 50 people I don’t know, and my inner self panics! I love to call myself a hermit or granny creative entrepreneur. I avoid schmoozing and networking in favor of being at home with my cat, a yummy homemade soup on the stove, and a good episode of Big Little Lies! As I head out to San Francisco on Caltrain this morning, I admit that I am dreading the crowds of people, the random conversations when I am just not in the mood (I need to work on my resting bitch face), and the drain of networking.
What about you?
Do you function better throughout the day when you have had some doses of solitude?
Wherever you fit on the spectrum, I want to assure you that being introverted can actually be a huge blessing! Growing up in the American culture I always thought that being extroverted was the favorable of the two types of people. Extroverts are promoted as those people who are loud, noticed, and who shine. They love to be seen, heard, acknowledged and society (or at least my success driven Bay Area culture) painted this picture of introverted people being shy, withdrawn, and quiet.
Although I have worked hard on my extroversion skills, daydreaming by myself is still my default mode. If there is one thing you can learn from my journey, it is that you can be a confident introvert and a leader in your own right.
Remember – Introversion is not the same as shyness, and you can carry yourself in life with the power of grace and ability to listen while being just as fierce as those extroverts.
If any of these feeling resonate with you, read on for my top two survival skills as a introvert in an extroverted culture:
Ensure you get your alone time and space to recharge!
Before going back to school I used to have a lot more free time to create content, write, take photographs, and work from home for clients (freelancing is amazing for alone time). With my new schedule, Monday through Friday can be a constant flow of interacting with people. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love people! classroom area models an open office environment. I tend to get no work done and become super moody by 3pm if I haven’t made that recharge time for myself. I love building in quiet time like a 10 minute break where I can wander around the block in the sunshine, or enjoy a lunch in my favorite park by myself. Take care of yourself and give yourself that time to decompress.
Build community and borrow your favorite extrovert!
Do you guys know how many social events and potential career opportunities I skipped out on last minute because I just didn’t feel like facing strangers?? I am quite sure that I burned bridges, and missed opportunities to gain mentors due to my shyness. Building strong networks and relationships that truly foster community can be difficult for introverts. I only just understood the value of close personal relationships as well as close professional relationships through building @mscoffeeandcream, and finally have learned how to overcome my impulse to retreat. Over time I learned how to be gregarious, social and authentically connect to others, but it really helped me to have a confident extrovert by my side.
In fact, Jay (my hubby) is often much more confident when it comes to networking, and it always helps me to have him by my side in places or contexts where I feel overwhelmed or self conscious.
When I’m at a loss, I can ask myself, “What would Jay Say/Do?” He introduces me to new people, possibilities, opportunities, and encourages me to make my life bigger (in fact he pushed me to go back to school for UX despite my hesitations).
Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, you possess gifts and personality traits that will set you apart. Really reflecting on what you love, what fires you up, and what fuels you the most can help you continue to create a life that you not only love but a life that helps reach and impact others.
I’d love to hear which personality type you identify with most (MBTI, Enneagram or Big 5), so hop over to Instagram @mscoffeeandcream and let me know:
Are you an introvert or extrovert?