Confessions of an Introvert

Confessions of an Introvert
Confessions of an Introvert

4,307 weeks at home under lockdown, no forced social interactions, no visitors to your home, no visiting to other people's homes – sounds like an introvert's dream right?

I've always been quite introverted, even when I was younger I'd be the kid who stayed indoors on my Commodore 64 when all of my friends where outside playing. Yes I am that old.

These days I'm very aware of my introverted ways, how they work to my advantage but then also how they can limit me if I don't address them quickly.

It wasn't always that way though, in the past people would often describe me as 'a loner', or 'shy', 'socially awkward', 'grumpy' or similar. And before I knew any better, I believed them. That's just who I was.

I'd avoid speaking up in meetings or going to big social gatherings, I'd lean on email or instant messaging rather than speak to somebody. When JustEat launched it changed my life because I could now order a pizza without having to speak to somebody.

And I was cool with all that because I was just a shy, socially awkward loner. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to my late twenties and an interaction I had with a guy we'd brought into our startup to help bolster sales.

After a few meetings with him he said to me "you're quite introverted aren't you?". We got talking about it, I read up on and had one of those lightbulb moments.

What I realised is that I have a preference towards introversion, but I can totally flip to being more extrovert when I need or want to. In fact most people are surprised when I share I'm an introvert because I've learned how to flip.

My previous beliefs are what had stopped me from taking part in meetings, or public speaking or being sociable. I didn't think I could do it.

So what have I learned about being an introvert?

  • I'm not a shy, socially awkward and grumpy loner. I just choose to be sometimes.
  • I get my energy from solitude, but that doesn't mean I can't work with others, in fact some of my best work is when working with others.
  • Flipping to extrovert saps my energy levels. I can do it, but if I have day full of back to back meetings my wife and daughter can expect zero conversation from me that evening. I'm wiped and good for nothing.
  • I have to make time just for me. Some people relax or unwind by going out with friends, that would do the opposite for me. Time by myself is how I relax and unwind. I call it my 'nothing box'
  • I'm quite self aware, because I naturally spend a lot of time being inward turning. This also helps me be quite aware of others and how they may be feeling.

Going back to lockdown and it sounding like a introvert's dream. There's good and bad, but I have had to adapt.

What I no longer have is the commute. That 45 minutes at the end of the day with complete solitude, it acts almost as a power nap. An opportunity to recharge before I start being dad again.

That 45 minute drive down the M62 is now a 5 second walk down the stairs. I'm not for one second complaining, I have a great job, at a great company and my family are healthy.

I've had to adapt my day a little during lock down to find that extra solitude I need. I've found I get up earlier than I need to. That hour is for me to recharge before I start work. I know it sounds silly needing an hour to recharge after having just woke up, but it definitely helps me.

I also find I'm going to bed later, again an extra hour or so to unwind by myself before bed. My nothing box is as important as sleep.

I still have the same number of meetings as before lockdown, maybe even a little more. But I'm now making a conscious effort to try and space them out more where I can. A day of back to back Teams calls will massively drain me, which is fine but I do fear two days back to back would kill me off.

But on the plus side, I do have less social events or family gatherings that I would ordinarily have to think of a creative excuse to get out of!

So to all my fellow introverts who haven't quite yet had the lightbulb moment I had a few years ago – You are most definitely not a shy, socially awkward, grumpy loner and you absolutely can flip to being more extrovert when you choose to.

And if anybody wants to talk about this, I'm happy to chat...or email... or IM


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