I was introverted before it was cool

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With the practice of yoga comes the practice of self-study. As you move from the outer body to the inner body, you become more aware of patterns and tendencies and when you’re brave enough, you start to address them. It didn’t take a practice of yoga to know that I am shy and introverted, but it is yoga and meditation that led me to investigate why and to really weigh the idea of this as being something I can change or merely manage.

Now, if you know me pretty well the declaration of being shy and introverted will yield no shock. If a mutual friend has introduced us and you’ve been on the receiving end of a “deer in the headlights” look, you’re also in the know. This has always been my thing. My timeline is marked with a fear great enough to provide physical discomfort when going to school in the first grade and a palpable shift in my breathing and heart rate every time I have to make a phone call, order at a restaurant or walk into a party. I can practice and put myself in situations that provoke this response, only to conclude that it never changes. And even though society fosters a belief that extroversion makes for better friends, practitioners, businesswomen and people, I’m realizing there is no reason for me to change. Instead, I should practice using characteristic as my strength.

For a moral boost, I recently read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. I learned some new things (like almost half of the American population are introverted) and confirmed some old (like one of my struggles as a business owner is promoting myself). And with regards to my self and my highly reactive amygdala, I learned there are some up sides to this. People can be more likely to listen when I speak because I’m not a big talker. The extra time I’ve spent listening has allowed me to be a better observer and more sensitive to interpreting others verbal and nonverbal cues. And maybe most importantly, I now understand why spending a day with people feels like I have been running against the wind and that it is okay to refuel with alone time.

While I’m not going to hole up in my loft (introvert) and forget about overcoming my fear of social situations (shyness), my perspective has changed. Instead of feeling like a failure or loser for preferring less social and less stimulating environments, I will become empowered by it. I’ll try to connect with others with similar experiences and continue to learn and share with you, though it is likely to be through avenues like this, not in individual conversation at the grocery store. Even if you’re not an introvert, learning more about each other creates for a much happier world. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn and evolve together.

Can you relate or know someone like me? Here are a couple of links to Susan Cain’s work. 

Susan Cain TED Talk

The Quiet Revolution

Quiet Leaders–5 Tips for Success

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