Confessions of a Recovering Introvert
August 25th, 2012
I like to playfully refer to myself as a recovering introvert. I grew up as a nerd with few friends and fewer social outlets. Bookish, studious, and eccentric, I never took the time to become well-versed in the art of human interaction. Who knew that social etiquette would one day be required to carry on a professional persona?
Since joining the workforce (and—more recently—becoming a business owner), I have had to teach myself the sacred practice of professional communication. It comes neither naturally nor easily, but I somehow manage. The secret is that I don’t try too hard.
I don’t go out of my way to hide the fact that nerdy comes naturally to me. While I’m not a stereotypical basement-dweller, I’m certainly not a smooth-talker. I have a habit of coming across as strange, dorky, and even awkward. I’m not sure I’d want to know what I’ve been called without my knowledge… but that’s okay. Because I’m pretty confident that people would find it difficult to describe me as “forgettable,” “average,” or “boring.”
Many clients, partners, and friends have expressed an appreciation and fondness for my eccentricities. In the tech field (and beyond), strangeness has become more accepted. People don’t want to work with Average Joes, they want to do business with someone unique who has the ability to bring creativity, compassion, excitement, and inspiration into the room (even if that means putting up with a few uncomfortable lulls or odd segues in conversation). If your professional identity drains you of all personality and uniqueness, you’re selling yourself short.
To my fellow introverts: keep being weird. Be confident that your unique qualities are what set you apart, and use that to your advantage to make a lasting, positive impression on those around you.