My 10 Anti-Introvert Rules
I'm an introvert. Not the kind that can be outgoing and mistaken for an extrovert when in groups. The kind that regroups alone and shuts-up in a crowd. The kind that needs time to warm up to strangers, and whose mind freezes when talking to new people.
I shared this with my friend, Michaela, this morning. We talked about Jessi's, Moriah's, and Hayley's pre-conference advice, especially being proactive about who we want to meet and converse with. I didn't want to acknowledge specific names, for the likely fear I wouldn't follow through. She said she would hold me to it, joking about pushing me toward the person I want to talk to, as I resist and she calls out the name of the person to draw attention.
It's a funny image. But it's more literally what happens inside myself every time I approach new groups of people and new situations. So much pressure. And the desire to enjoy the experience to the max. And the barrier of shyness and fear of awkwardness. It doesn't take long for me to use up my "oomph of confidence" (as Kacia so nicely worded it).
Anyone out there know what I'm talking about?
I've spent my life being shy to the extreme. But I've challenged myself to push those boundaries. To break those barriers and experience the wonderful world of new people and new experiences and thriving in a group. It can be draining and challenging. And I'm often not very good at it. But it's every bit worth the effort.
I put together some rules for myself for this conference, and anyone else in this introvert boat with me...
1 | Be you.
I straighten/curl my hair whenever I want to impress people. But the truth is, cruly frizzy hair is part of me and a more accurate portrayal of who I am as a person. So, I will be leaving my curling iron behind and embracing all of me--crazy hair and all.
2 | Be comfortable.
I see pictures of women in adorable outfits and feel like I could and should pull this off. But the truth is, I'm comfiest in casual clothes. And I'm more laid back/approachable/friendly when I'm comfy.
3 | Show up early, or at least on time.
Nothing shuts me down quite like entering a room full of chatting women and having no idea where I fit. I'll show up early and snag an empty seat to adjust to the crowd as it grows. Or at least show up on time when there is time for quick introductions before the speaker starts.
4 | Sit next to someone new.
When I enter a nearly empty room, I'm tempted to snag an empty table. This backfired on me at our church's mom's group last week. I avoided sitting next to people because I was sure they had someone else coming to sit with them. Then, I watched as one-by-one each woman that entered the room sat with someone else or at another empty table, probably assuming I had someone else coming to sit with me. If all of us introverts made the effort to actually sit with each other, we could have had one full table of conversation rather than mostly empty tables of awkwardness and quiet.
5 | Turn off your phone.
My phone can be a safe place for me. But, really, why do I need to check social media or text someone not there when there's a bunch of people IN REAL LIFE waiting for my interaction? We all use them for everything and turning it off may not be an option. But I will turn it to vibrate. And put it away when not necessary or when it could prevent people from talking to me.
6 | Remember we all have insecurities.
Even outgoing and extroverted people have areas of weakness or "off" days. Just like I want people to be patient and understanding with my initial reservations, I will be ready to offer the same grace and understanding to others.
7 | Be healthy.
Not drinking enough water gives me headaches. My mind goes blank and I struggle holding a conversation with someone new when I'm tired. I feel more energized and outgoing when I eat well and even drink some emergen-C. When fighting an introverted nature, it's best to keep other physical discomforts out of the equation.
8 | Know how to regroup.
I admire people that can maintain a busy conference schedule and fill free-time with meeting up with large groups of people. If that's your thing--awesome! I, however, regroup better in smaller groups and even one-on-one. I haven't signed up for any meet-ups because I want my freetime to be spent however needed when I get there. That might mean a quiet moment alone, or shopping with Michaela, or grabbing coffee with a new friend. I simply don't connect well with 60 other people at a restaurant.
9 | Pray for God to speak through you.
One of my favorite books of all time is all about a woman that wanted to live a quiet life close to home, and how God turned those plans upside down. My favorite moments in my own life are when God has helped me to speak up when I am otherwise inclined to be silent. Prayer has been a tremendous help in taking full advantage of opportunities to converse and connect with other people against my tendencies to not.
10 | Welcome a little nudge.
You just might see Michaela pushing me to go talk to someone. I'll hate her for it in the moment, but thank her soon after. And maybe someone could help us at least stage that photo--because it'd be an Instagram gem.
I'll try my best to do my part and not expect everyone else to be "the outgoing one." If you're feeling a little introverted or shy or unsure, you're not alone! I'm praying for you and would love to do so by name. Comment below or write to me at trinacress @ gmail .com.
I look forward to meeting you!