My entire life has been devoted to creativity. My mom told me when I was 2 years old I would take a rolling pin and act like I was forecasting the weather just like the meteorologist on the local news. Carey Dean was his name.
When I was 10 I wanted to become a comic book artist. I would try my hand at characters and show them to my mom. They were awful so God bless her for telling me they looked decent.
When I was 16 I decided that since I couldn’t play professional sports that I would become a sportscaster. It made sense. SportsCenter was my favorite show and I watched it on repeat until I fell asleep and also when I woke up in the morning. (This was before we had 24/7 news coverage).
It wasn’t until I was 18 that I found a career that allowed me to be creative but also accepted me for my introverted ways. I didn’t know I was an introvert back then. I was mislabeled as shy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m shy. I knew there was something more to it. I just didn’t know what to call it.
When I told my dad that I was going to be on the radio for my college station, he laughed. His exact words? “You? You’re the shyest person I know.”
Radio was the perfect career for me. You work in an office around other creatives for a few hours and then you go to your studio to host your show for the other half of your shift. If you’re like me, and love the late night or night shifts, you’re alone for the whole time. A cleaning crew might show up but for the most part, it’s just you and the microphone. You’re alone with your thoughts and that feeling is magical.
I didn’t realize I was heavily introverted until last year. My previous job had its employees take the Myers-Brigg Personality Test. I knew my score would come back some where on the introvert scale. I didn’t know it would be so high. I scored a 9–1 for being an introvert and it shocked me. Then my last decade or so of work started to make sense.
If you’re an extrovert, you recharge by being around other people. Introverts need to be alone to recover their energy. It used to confuse me when I would come home and feel drained after going to a small work event to hang out with listeners. I usually drove home in silence and went into my room, never leaving the silence. It felt like I hadn’t done any work, besides talking, but it also felt like I had worked a 12 hour shift at a steel mill.
When you’re an introvert it’s hard to be part of the team. I always wonder if my co-workers think I’m weird because I rarely talk. I started a new job last month and I like my co-workers. It’s just that I’m an observer. I assess situations, conversations, rooms, everything. I’m looking for social cues that make me feel comfortable to talk. Usually these cues come in the form of hearing someone discussing basketball, fantasy football, music, movies, or tv shows. I rarely initiate a conversation because my personality has always been to let people talk to me and I’ll reciprocate.
I’ve always been a good listener and conversations for me are usually a two way street. Someone begins talking and states their opinion. I listen. Then I give my response. When there are people talking over each other it becomes overwhelming for me. I worked in a small agency environment for a year. I sat directly next to all of my co-workers and my boss was in an office 30 feet away. It was hard to focus on work because any time someone started having a conversation it infiltrated my ears, even with headphones. I would become frustrated and lost my concentration. When that happened it was hard to get focused on the task again.
In the past I would cancel plans with friends in order to stay in and be with my thoughts or watch TV. I felt like this made me a bad friend. I wanted to be around people but I’ve always been conservative on how I spend my energy each day. Sure, I enjoyed going out to the bars occasionally. Once it got overwhelming I was ready to leave.
I wanted to share some helpful tips on how to support anyone in your life who is introverted or shy.
Give Them Space
Your introverted friend needs breathing room from time to time. They really do want to hang out with you. However, they might have spent all of their energy at work that day or had a handful of conversations that drained them. When your introverted friend tells you they don’t want to go out, leave it at that. Don’t try to pressure them into leaving the house. They need to recharge. You can offer to be there for them by communicating through text or offering to come over. Most likely they’ll want to be left alone in order to rest and relax.
Engage In Meaningful Conversation
I really hate small talk. I don’t like talking about things that don’t have any depth or value. And most introverts are like this too. Some of my favorite conversations have come from theoretical ideas, writing ideas, and various other forms of education. An introvert likes to dive deep into a subject. Try to keep the small talk to a minimum and bring up a subject that allows them to get lost in the conversation with you.
Peace & Quiet
If you live with an introvert, you’ll notice we’re very quiet people. We enjoy exploring thoughts in our head, reading, and learning. The best thing you can do is give an introvert some space for peace and quiet. This allows them to refuel and come back to you in an hour or two with a thirst for wanting to educate you on what they just discovered.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you may like some of my other pieces of work: