On Being an Introvert

4 Posted by - September 17, 2013 - Life

8474666617_ef9ec1839d_z

I spent the weekend teaching a workshop in San Francisco, two full days, where I ran the whole thing, did my little spiel, I spoke a lot about writing, I helped troubleshoot, I listened, I engaged, and I was present. After everyone left on Sunday, I laid down on my bed, and just stayed there for two hours staring off into space. I was drained and full at the same time.

I’m so glad that people talk so much now about what it means to be an introvert, so I probably don’t have to explain it too much, but it’s not about not liking people or being shy necessarily, it’s that feeling you have after a party: you had fun, but then you’re so thankful to be home, alone, to have time to process things. We tend to like to work alone, rather than on teams. We can create, but we don’t like to sell ourselves.

So why do I run these workshops? I love them. I mean my heart bursts with love for these other writers and their struggles and I come away feeling not-so-alone in my own writing and career struggles, I come away brimming with ideas. I hope I help them, but I also know I can only share my experience and just like all of us, they have to go back and do what they will with it. Still, despite my desire to connect with people, being introverted is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Over the years I’ve gotten better, but I still hate things like interviews (I can’t do small talk, chit-chat or perform the role of “travel expert” as sometimes people want in a radio interview, they want sound bytes like, “travel is really just soooo transformative!” Um no sometimes it’s not.). I’m also terrible at networking, pretending to like people and a host of other things that would probably help my career. But I am getting better at running events and being a public speaker to small groups.

My tips, for those introverts out there:

Control the situation, if you can. In my workshops, I’m setting the topic. I avoid conferences and events where I don’t believe in the core message — because I know I will just disappear otherwise.

Out yourself. I was reading their writing back to them, and I felt nervous suddenly, my voice felt like it would crack. I just admitted it. I said, “I’m nervous all of sudden, reading these, even though it’s not even my writing.” It let me shake off that nervous public speaking feeling a bit, and by the end, I was at ease again.

(If you run an event) Have a well planned schedule that takes all the pressure off of you. Instead of feeling the pressure of “running the event” the schedule is running the event. It anchors you and the group.

Let go, let go, let go. However you imagined things would go, they won’t.

Stick with small groups. Break into one-on-one as much as needed, if that’s your comfort zone (like it is for me) then go with what works.

Take time to rest after it’s all over. A lot of time. Monday, I just laid in bed and watched Netflix. As much as I loved the work I did over the weekend, I needed that time to decompress.

Put yourself out there over and over again. It’s funny because the feedback I got from the workshop was very positive and someone said, “Christine you’re so much more funny than you are on your blog!” Ha. Well, I had to work hard to get to the point where I could be myself with new people right away. It used to be that people would say after knowing me for a while, “Wow, you wouldn’t guess it, but Christine is a total wise-ass.” But I actually feel like it’s a kindness and relief to be myself as quickly as possible (usually after I’ve dodged the typical nice-to-meet-you exchange with a joke, because I suck at socially obligated small talk), and it puts everyone else at ease.

By the way, if you think you have generalized anxiety or social anxiety, then you probably do and you can get meds for that.  They help.

The end result? I spent the entire weekend with a bunch of great writers, being super outgoing and helpful, then I collapsed into a ball, but I didn’t feel bad about that at all. That’s just my thing. I crave other people, then I need my time. It’s just one way that people can be.

image

  • Trishia Jacobs-Carney

    Christine, have you ever read about HSP (highly sensitive people)? I think it might be nice terminology for what used to be called “being high strung”. Well, whatever it is, I’m that way and you sound like you are, too. It’s so stimulating to be around other people that it’s also exhausting. The nervous system and the adrenal glands are just maxed out.haha! Still, I would sure love to meet you one day…. in Spain preferably. Maybe you could handle me in a small dose. I don’t like small talk or chit-chat either. So we could all meet over tapas and solve the world’s problems……

    • almostfearless

      Yeah probably, except I personally don’t like the word sensitive because it was used against me in my childhood, like “oh you’re just being too sensitive” (no actually, you’re being horrible). But yeah, it’s like an endorphin rush to be with people and then you crash or something. They should study it more! I like the word introvert better though, and OMG “high strung” that’s the worst. LOL

  • http://www.ramblingtart.com/ Krista

    I’m smiling as I finish this because I definitely identify with what you’ve written. I LOVE connecting with people but then I need to burrow into my hidey-hole for a while and just be. :-) I love how you’re learning to make scary situations healthy ones for you, and I’ll definitely be thinking through your tips.

    • almostfearless

      Hidey Hole! I love that… hahaha. Yes, that’s exactly it.

  • Christy

    Christine, thank you for this weekend! It was absolutely fantastic and you were perfect! I wouldn’t have guessed you were an introvert. You spoke expertly and you were indeed calm and confident. Thank you for sharing yourself, your talents and your time with our small group! And I’m sure you realized it right away, but you were not the only introvert in the bunch! It’s probably safe to say that everyone there was an introvert in some way, shape or form. Thanks again!!

    • almostfearless

      Thank you Christy! I think it’s just that rest afterwards, I love to talk shop, I can’t stop talking about it once I get going, but yeah, I need to recharge. Good luck on your upcoming travels and take care of my baby! I will come visit your photos and admire my lens at work :)

  • Megan DaGata

    I’m introverted too. I totally understand your post. I wish you much alone time to ponder and process. But not too much. :)

    • almostfearless

      Thanks! :) I like to read, so it’s a good way to catch up. That and netflix, which is evil but awesome, since I haven’t had a TV in five years.

  • http://www.delapuravida.com Erin in Costa Rica

    I thought the workshop was awesome! You are so inspirational. And you know, when it comes to sharing ideas, I have to say you seem extroverted. Yay for those of us who attended :)

    I’m an introvert, too. I know how exhausting it is to perform the role of educator/facilitator. It took me a couple days to recover just from participating haha. Thanks for putting yourself out there! Cheers!

    • almostfearless

      Thanks! I loved it. You’re hilarious. I can’t wait to see what comes up next for you. Good luck at google! :)

  • Sarah Somewhere

    Hi Christine, I can completely relate, thank you for putting how I feel so often into words. I love people, but have to be very careful about finding the balance with alone time as it is something I absolutely need in order to feel half-way normal. I have struggled with it so many times whether traveling with others or hosting visitors here in Playa, whereby I literally hibernate for days afterward in order to recharge. It can be inconvenient, but I feel like Im on my way to accepting and managing it.

    • almostfearless

      Yeah it can be hard when readers or other travelers want to meet up and I just can’t do it that often. I hid out in Chiang Mai a bit, just because there’s so many people coming into town it was possible to go out every single meal and meet someone. I just can’t do it.

  • http://somewhereihavenevertraveled.com/ Kara Blythe

    I know exactly what you mean. That feeling of relief once you find yourself alone after a big social event…sigh, almost nothing better.About a year and a half ago I got a job as a tour guide. I was very anxious at first because it requires I speak in front of groups of up to 60 people at a time (my worst nightmare!), but I loved so many other aspects of the job that I had to give it a try. It’s taken a long time, but I feel I’m finally comfortable being in front of a crowd. That being said, I’m still a introvert at heart who very much appreciates her alone time :)

    You mention your distaste for small talk and superficial networking. Do you ever struggle with that as a travel blogger? The industry seems so dependent on staying up to speed with other bloggers, as well as taking an active part in social media. I myself am trying to break into the industry, but am not big on social networking or marketing…which seems problematic. Any advice on dealing with this?

    • almostfearless

      I don’t think you need to talk to a SINGLE TRAVEL BLOGGER EVER (unless you want to, but no, there’s no requirement in order to break in). You need to talk to your readers about travel! It’s a big myth out there, it’s like saying, how do I break into writing novels — you don’t do it by talking to novelists all day, you do it by trying to find ways to reach readers. Same thing. :) I teach a blogging course, if you’re ever interested. blogbrilliantly.com

      • http://somewhereihavenevertraveled.com/ Kara Blythe

        What a wonderful response. You’re so right. I’ve been feeling bogged down by all these social media but now I’m all sort of inspired to refocus my energy toward my writing and my readers rather than elsewhere. Thank you!! Will definitely look into that blogging course :)

        • Shardsta

          Kara, I also think that a lot of travel bloggers are introverts. I agree that you don’t need to talk to them but, if you want to, you might find you’re much more on the same page than you might think

  • Shardsta

    I used to feel embarrassed about being an introvert. I had a job where we did personality tests and I was the only one who came out “introverted” and I thought I should be ashamed. I love that it’s talked about more now, and that people understand it better. I also think that travelling complements introversion so well, introverts seem to be natural travellers, which may seem strange. I love this post.

  • http://www.sofiavonporat.com/ Sofia von Porat

    Great tips! I remember watching an amazing speech at Ted talks about the power of introverts, then I realized the book you were recommending is written by the same woman, Susan Cain!

    I’m not typically an introvert, but I believe that we all have parts of our personalities that are introvert, only we have been told by society that this part of us is “bad” and needs to be suppressed.

  • http://www.manonthelam.com/ Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    Good tips! Being an introvert myself I’m glad to see that it’s not impossible to engage others in a meaningful way without being too over zealous.

  • Rachel Trager Sales

    Thank you for these tips! Pink Pangea just launched workshops about solo travel and travel writing (http://pinkpangea.com/get-involved/workshops/) and your tips will prove very useful!

  • Carmel & Shawn

    So late to the party with this comment…

    I sit almost exactly in the middle between introvert and extrovert, leaning ever-so-slightly to the extrovert side. It’s been surprising to me to see how much more difficult it can be to travel as an extrovert than I thought. I figured Shawn, my husband, would have a harder time, being a classic introvert. But it’s really been a challenge for me at times. One reason is that he can control his ability to be alone most of the time–minus things like our tour where we had companions, but he was aware that would happen. I can’t necessarily control when I’m around other people. This might be the time where you say, all you have to do is go out and meet people, but it’s not really that easy. Or, at least, it hasn’t been for me in our short 3 weeks.

    There’s really no point to this comment other than adding in what it’s like on the “other side” of the personality spectrum and wondering if anyone else feels that way at times.

  • Gina Diaz

    Great tips! great moves! push it to http://www.thepushhub.com

    tip’s and travel on the go!

  • Sarah Matthews-Laurence

    Yip – that’s why teachers are usually so tired. I see more than 200 kids a day!

  • Pingback: Open Letter: There Are No Islamic Terrorists | Everything TravelsEverything Travels

  • jack william

    Bundle of thanks for useful tips… keep updating. i’ll visit soon…

    Cheap Kilimanjaro Ticket

  • Pingback: The Write Life Presents: The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014