You may not believe me when I say that I'm an introvert, especially because you can find me all over the Internet—here on my blog, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, and on profession-related e-mail lists. But I am indeed introverted, and I've found several ways to work with my introversion rather than against it to keep it from hampering my success as a self-employed editor:
- Rather than using the phone, I correspond with colleagues and clients by e-mail (or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn) whenever possible. This allows me time to think through what I want to communicate and usually decreases the likelihood that I'll communicate in a foolish manner. When I'm on the phone with someone, I worry about whether I sound goofy, whether I'm remembering to say all of the things that I wanted to communicate, and whether I'm boring the other person. Baseless fears, maybe, but there they are.
- I do work that doesn't require lots of face time. Rather than being someone who covers science meetings (like many of my medical-writer colleagues) and who therefore has to go around interviewing people in person, I'm someone who edits documents that come out of science meetings. Believe it or not, I started my career as a newspaper journalist. Despite being an excellent writer who garnered many front-page stories, I lasted only 2 years. It was emotionally exhausting!
- I use social-media platforms to appear as the extrovert that I am not.
- I team up with extroverts when I need to appear in public, such as at meetings of professional associations (or at parties at the homes of friends). I let them be the conversation-starters and thus take the pressure off myself to perform.
- I don't schedule public appearances on the fly. I schedule them well in advance so that I have time to get ready mentally. It's not that we introverts hate being around people; it's just that spending extended time with others tends to tire us mentally and emotionally, so we need time to prepare ahead of time and then time to recuperate afterward.
- I've stopped mentally bashing myself for being an introvert. I used to think that society devalued introversion in favor of extroversion. Extroverts may get a lot of attention from others, but that's because they command it, not because their way of being is better than introverts' way of being. Both extroverts and introverts are valuable parts of the human mix.
If you're an introvert, what things do you do to help yourself?
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