I grew up as the fifth of six children. In my household, each child was given an identity. There was “the educated one”, “the big baby”, “the loose canon”, “the special one”, “the shy one (me)” and “the baby”. I don’t think it was intentional but these labels created – at least for me – a box and unspoken expectation. And for the most part, we each played our role well. But, as I reached my twenties and began to form my own identity I became frustrated. I wanted to be more outgoing and spontaneous but there always seemed to be an invisible barrier keeping me boxed in.
Can you relate? Are you an introvert? Are you shy? Do you know that there’s a difference? In a nutshell, an introvert is one who is refueled or energized by being alone, although they may have very good social skills. On the other hand, a shy individual experiences nervousness and extreme discomfort in social settings. Therefore, he/she cautiously avoids large groups or unfamiliar settings. It is possible to be shy in new settings only, just like it’s possible to only have occasional introverted tendencies.
The wonderful thing about being an introvert is that you’re always thinking. The aggravating thing about being an introvert is that you’re ALWAYS THINKING!
As I grew into my own identity I quickly realized that I was by no means shy. While there are times I prefer to sit back and observe, I enjoy letting my hair down sort of speaking. I have pushed myself beyond my comfort zone intentionally so much so that I am now an outgoing introvert. I’ve found the happy balance of stretching my comfort zone while not draining my energy.
So, how can you embrace your power of being an introvert while avoiding the stressful repercussions?
1. Schedule alone time
As an introvert, we must have personal time to regroup. Time to reflect, unwind, and rejuvenate is time well spent. Even if it’s twenty minutes at a local coffee shop or book store, make it count. Turn away from electronic devices, indulge in a creative activity, or your favorite hobby. You will feel refreshed and ready to face the world afterwards.
As an introvert, we tend to over analyze. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up spending more time thinking than actually accomplishing anything. At the beginning of the day, take a few minutes to make a list of things to be done, in order of importance as well as what you will need to get it done (we love the details, right?) For this, I LOVE EVERNOTE (get it from your app store). This way you can quickly see what tasks can easily be accomplished and which may require more time or assistance. This brings me to the next step.
Do you have difficulty delegating tasks? Again, this is likely because you’re over analyzing. You’re so caught up in the smallest details that you’re hesitant to trust that anyone else will do it the way YOU like for it to be done. Well, if you want to continue to be stressed and overwhelmed, keep doing everything yourself. The reality is that you can’t do everything yourself and, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your way of doing things isn’t perfect either. GASP! No one is perfect. So, let go of control and ask for help.
YOUR WAY OF DOING THINGS ISN’T PERFECT EITHER.
I’ve found that the best way to ease the overload of thoughts running through my head is to write them down.
A journal is an introvert’s Bible.
The papers of our journals don’t judge our thoughts and when we read over what we’ve written, we have better clarity on what we think and feel.
5. Decompress before and after major activities.
I can’t tell you how much this has worked for me. I consider myself a socially stable introvert and one of the reasons is because I mentally prepare myself to be among a group of people (which is also why I sometimes decline last minute activities). The next time you’re invited to a social event, take the day before as your “ME time”. Revisit step number one and schedule alone time. Use your time picturing yourself having an enjoyable time mingling, at a comfortable level, of course.
6. Think outside the box. Push your comfort zone.
WARNING: Only proceed with this step if you’re comfortable with being uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is that we cannot live a life of isolation. But, when you push yourself past your comfort zone, you may soon find that your fears were unfounded and beyond reality. And, it’s okay to be nervous. Some of the people who seem to be the life of the party were once shy introverts. I never would’ve thought that I would actually enjoy doing karaoke…IN PUBLIC!
Learn to live in the moment and enjoy every struggle. They build character and make for good memories.
Did you find this article useful? Subscribe, share or comment below.