Being the seventh of eight children, there were many traditions well underway by the time I came along. One such tradition was the baby picture from Olan Mills we each had taken at around a year old. The six pictures before mine each showed a baby smiling from ear to ear. Mine? Not so much. I was a baby with curls on her head frowning at the photographer. After many attempts to get a smile out of that baby, Mom told me he finally snapped the pic of the frowning baby, giving up. Some would say I just wasn’t in the mood for a picture that day.
As time went on, though, and I moved beyond the childhood years, I came to realize that my you-don’t-impress-me-much attitude was sticking with me. Hearing things like this made me shudder on the inside (and cue an internal frown):
- “Come with us to Samantha’s house. She’s having a huge party!”
- “They’re expecting 1500 people to be at the concert Saturday night. It’s going to be a blast!”
- “Tracy, you’re in charge of networking for the company. You’ll be going to these events each quarter, and the goal is for you to bring in three new clients as a result of each event.”
You may notice a similarity in each example. Being with a lot of people in a setting with the expectation of being “on” while around them isn’t at the top of my preferred activities. You know where I’m going with this, right? Yes, world, I am indeed an introvert!
What is an Introvert?
The dictionary defines introvert as a shy, reticent person. I don’t believe shy is how I’d describe myself, though. In 8 Signs You Are an Introvert, author Kendra Cherry agrees. In fact, she says, “Being an introvert does not mean that you are socially anxious or shy.” She goes on to explain that while extroverts gain energy from social interaction, introverts have to expend energy in social situations and thus feel a need to recharge by spending time alone. Check and check for me!
Another classic trait of introverts is that of being difficult to get to know. At one point a few years ago, three of my sisters and I all went to the same woman to get our hair cut. As she expertly used her scissors on my hair during one appointment in particular, she shared that it was much easier to talk with and get to know my sisters than it was to do so with me. Embarrassing? Yes. True? Yes again.
While I believe introverts get a bad rap sometimes, I also understand why some of those tendencies could work against me. As a business owner and leader, it’s important that I confidently connect with others and interact with them in an authentic, transparent way. And the older I get, the more self-aware I am about what I need to do to be at my best and how I can work to overcome the tendencies that at one time held me back. A tool I use to help me overcome my introverted ways is goal-setting.
Goal-setting for Coping with Networking
I now set goals for myself before going into networking events. I know I’m at my best in interactions with fewer people so I make a point to schedule one-to-one meetings where I can get to know people on a deeper level. I have also become more open with others. I share my why for starting my company. And I share my background, my challenges, and how I work to overcome them. I’m finding the more I do this, the easier it gets, and it’s refreshing to see others’ interest in what I share.
So, what happened to the person who wouldn’t smile for the photographer decades ago? The one who didn’t warm up to her hair stylist? She now chatters non-stop with her new hair stylist, the one with whom she feels completely comfortable. She smiles in her pictures these days too, because she’s living the life she’s designed for herself.
On a sisters’ trip last month, I received the perfect gift. Inscribed on the bracelet from my sister are the words “Remember Who You Are.” I do. Every day. And this introvert is energized by that!
Are you struggling in your day-to-day life, feeling completely drained by the time you make it through the door to your home every evening? Are you feeling lost, like you know this can’t be how life is supposed to be, completely unsure how to break this same old feeling and step into something new without dumping your life on its head? Let’s talk.