My coworker listened ardently as I listed off the different topics of focus I had in mind for my end-of-term Co-op blog post. The last one I proposed was a write-up underlining the ways I have navigated the workplace as an introvert. Upon hearing this, she looked at me wide-eyed for an entire three seconds and immediately burst out laughing as she combined the notion of me and introverted into one thought.
Many who I’ve met within the past little while would argue the validity of me titling myself an introvert. This particular co-worker had been sitting to my left as I freely asked questions on my orientation day, and has witnessed me acquaint myself with others of different departments in the firm, direct a corporate promotional video, volunteer for every external networking event, and earn a staff recognition for the work I have contributed to the firm.
While I may have built an extensive list of accomplishments, these external displays of conduct don’t show the larger accomplishment only I witness by overcoming myself daily. She hadn’t seen how much self-talk goes on behind the scenes to calm the war in my head before I enter the room at a monthly mingler, sit down with a partner for the first time to review their online image, or slide myself into a social setting with group of strangers already mid-conversation. If I were to have it my way, I would much rather hide behind my camera and observe. However, the easy way out doesn’t EVER produce the most growth and value.
Truly seeking a growth-oriented mindset brings along with it the need to stretch our comfort zones. With that being said, my hope is that these tips I have garnered can add value to other blossoming wallflowers to pursue excellence despite the discomfort social situations may often bring.
Don't "Make Yourself Feel at Home"
I grew up focusing on “being me”, as the world had always taught me to be. While there is nothing wrong with being who you are, I have found that the best way to develop connections and friendships is to build a place where others can feel at home in your presence. Be curious. Ask questions. Become an avid listener of their story.
Understand the Value You Can Give
Don’t limit or compartmentalize yourself to your job description. Contribute uniquely in ways only you can. Before I could find confidence to share about me, I had to understand that I too had valuable things to teach others about the topic I know best: Me - my experiences, hurdles, and successes.
Get Yourself Out There!
You don’t ever overcome something by running the opposite direction. I urge you to be present for absolutely everything, even in the face of fear. When it’s intimidating, a tip I have learned is to volunteer yourself. Ask for ways to help, so you are not aimlessly wandering and avoiding conversation. Great connections always come as a result of intentional, collaborative effort.