I’m an introvert, and to some people that’s a dirty word. Over the years I’ve been ridiculed, targeted and judged for being quiet, independent and shy. People have asked me pointed questions that may seem normal to some and totally belligerent to others.
‘Do you have any friends yet’?
‘Why are you sitting over here all alone’?
‘Why are you acting so weird just go introduce yourself’.
Okay, the last one was more of a demand but I’ve honestly heard all of these, from real people in my life. Taking in these insensitive nuggets of foolishness thwarted my very being and made me want to crawl back into my imaginary safety shell.
When I was 21 years old I realized I didn’t want to be alone for my entire life. That I wanted to have a significant other and maybe even friends. I knew both of those goals included talking…to real live people, YIKES! Thus, my journey began. I started greeting people, talking to a few strangers (rarely, but it did happen), and even listening! GASP! The challenge and key to connecting with people is listening. Many awkward people just wait for their time to speak or panic when there is a lull in the dialogue, simply listening can take you a long way!
Indeed I was making changes, but deep down I was still and am still an introvert. And I don’t think it’s a dirty word at all! Introverts can carry on conversations, they are actually very interesting and engaging. But some people may not notice the subtle wonders of this classically subdued individual. We introverts have to work harder to win people over, we have to be authentic and real and engage with people who make us feel super uncomfortable. And that’s okay. I’m no stranger to hard work.
Every day is a challenge for me, I teach fitness classes where I’m in charge. I am energetic. I am leading others to get fit and strive for empowerment. Believe me, building a rock solid booty is definitely EMPOWERING! I really like teaching, even if making eye contact with people in class is terrifying. Work is easy for me now, but social situations are still bizarrely stress inducing. I have a really busy month ahead of me, I’ve accepted many invitations for parties and gatherings. Which means this introvert has to spread her wings and take flight on the blue skied chit chat highway.
I’ve started a ritual to help overcome anxiety that arrives when I realize I have to meet and greet and converse with total strangers. It’s simple.
An Anxious, Awkward Introvert’s Prayer*
Hi God, it’s me again. Do you have a sec? I need you.
I will be talking to strangers again. (stay positive after admitting this undeniable future truth)
Help my heart beat regulate.
Allow me to speak up and be myself. Say my name, state my joy.
Assist my inquisitions, help my language flow with a sense of intelligence and a hint of forgotten whimsy. (you know everyone loves forgotten whimsy)
Allow me to intently listen to everything that is presented, help me articulate my point of view even if it is different.
Let my feet take me to new rooms with new faces.
Can I be fierce? Yes let me be fierce! (of the Sasha variety minus the mean/sexy facial expression)
New friends await, insist I remember this joyous fact.
Keep me thrivin’, not just survivin’!
*Take note that not all introverts are anxious and/or awkward but I sure as hell am and it’s my prayer!
What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘introvert’? Do you think of character depicted in literature or film? Of a family member? Of yourself? Leave your answer in the comment section, even extroverts (eek!) can chime in. #wink
One of my favorite TED talks, The Power of Introverts