Before I impulsively jetted off to spend a month working in and traversing Montreal, you could find me playing video games or devouring books in a dimly lit room, happily reserved and lost in my own thoughts. I coveted time alone over social interactions and professional networking. I preferred to be behind a keyboard, away from prying eyes, left to my work and devices in peace.
It worked, for a time. But, with the great power of a job title comes great responsibility. Working with a startup like AC Marketing demanded that I take a more active role in meetings and events. It’s complicated for me, among other relatable adjectives. I’ve always had a hard time being comfortable in social or professional settings. Even now, it still makes me somewhat queasy. However, to all introverts out there, it is possible to bypass your walls, if only for an hour or two. It never gets easy, but it does bring a sense of productivity and accomplishment. Something as simple as me taking a spot at WeWork in Montreal gave me the boost I needed to be creative in a very unfamiliar setting.
So, what can you do to tame that reservedness? Here are some things that have worked for me:
Too Much, Too Fast
There is no need to go from 0 to 100 in the space of a blink. That’s a recipe for further procrastination moving outside your comfort zone. Slow down, assess yourself, and set realistic goals. For example, are in-person meetings your kryptonite? Try organizing two per month, focusing on your strengths and expertise, while becoming comfortable with new people and surroundings. Don’t overexert yourself for the sake of fast progress. Being an introvert doesn’t disappear; remember, you’re trying to work around it, not against it.
Practice Makes Perfect
Give me a strategy or case study to compile, and I’ll disappear into the writing void and emerge with a pristine document for perusal. Now, ask me to present said document, and you’ll find me shrinking away into the shadows, hoping that no one notices. It’s a problem. Luckily, there is a solution – practice! I currently run monthly syncs with one of our clients, and weekly meetings with the team via Skype. They’re relatively short, and act as an overview for ongoing activity. However, they’ve been instrumental in helping me find my voice and steady it, replacing my nerves with confidence overtime.
Working in a silo of your own fears and insecurities is an introverted nightmare. So, I thrive on constructive feedback and criticism from my peers. This helps put things into perspective. It also allows me to map my achievements and things I can improve upon in an impartial way. I’m surrounded by self-starters and extroverts, which has propelled my own journey to put myself out there. Sometimes, a small pep-talk or nudge in the right direction is all it takes to make strong, worthwhile steps.