If you had read the about page of this site (don’t look for it, there is none), you would have known that I’ve spent the last 5 years debunking unhelpful beliefs.
Well first because they are unhelpful. Yes. And also because they don’t help. Ok?
More seriously, the main idea behind these 5 years was to make myself aware of some stupid beliefs I had, and to replace them with better ones. (Better ones being the ones which help me go forward and grow rather than preventing me to be an awesome potato.)
Now what you have to know is that as a kid I was like a trash can. Whatever bullshit you’d send to me I’d take it. My brain would believe anything you’d throw at it.
That’s how I ended up with so many unhelpful beliefs, I… believe. And that’s also why you’re reading this blog now.
So when I was told that it was not ok to be spending (so much) time alone, I would believe it.
And it made me very uncomfortable.
I thought there was some problem with me. Something to correct.
I’d like to draw, I’d like to paint, I’d like to write, I’d like to compose music, I’d like to build imaginary wars and dream. Mostly by myself.
But for whatever reason, that was deemed not acceptable.
So, later, instead, I tried to be as cool as my friends were. I’d go play some soccer or basketball, I’d go drink and vomit at parties, I’d go to loud clubs with their loud music. And their loud girls.
And I hated it all.
But hey, I was just trying to be “normal”.
The thing is, yes, it is true, there were some kind of problems with me. Or to be more exact, there were some things to improve.
I was very shy.
But what I did not know at the time is that shyness and introversion are, basically, two completely unrelated things.
And this, I believe, makes for a very important difference.
Introversion VS Shyness
There are many misconceptions about what introversion is.
Introverted people are often described as shy, anxious, socially awkward, quiet, depressed, or fearful.
Just looking at Google Images and you can clearly see the strong stereotype: most of the pictures show unhappy, shy, hiding people. (And also someone wearing some kind of pinky-purple sweater over their whole body. Weird.)
It’s also widely said that introverts don’t like people in general.
But let me tell you. This is all BULL CRAP.
Introversion and extroversion is simply about how one uses and how one regains their energy.
For an introvert, too much activity around is going to drain them, and spending time alone is going to recharge them.
For extroverts, it’s the opposite.
As soon as extroverts spend time alone, they’re loosing energy. It stresses them. Being around a lot of activity, with a lot of people is what makes them feel right, and what energizes them.
My youngest sister is high on the extroversion scale. She holds parties in her house ALL-THE-TIME. Remember Monica in Friends and her obsession to have people in her house? Well, my sister. (Except my sister has bigger boobs.)
I was there during the summer, and she cannot fall asleep if she’s alone. She freaks out and gets lonely. So you have to keep being around her and keep talking to her. (Talking about these topics seemed to put her to sleep pretty well.)
But me, I’m the opposite. I’m a hardcore introvert. The best day for me is a rainy day where I can be at home with a cup of tea and a good book. Or a sunny day where I can drive my motorbike throughout the mountains and hike. Or a few drinks and a dinner but with no more than 4 people else my head pops out and I pull out my Kindle and my middle fingers.
In the same way you might like bananas better than oranges (I feel you), you might just be born rather introvert or extrovert.
And there is nothing wrong with one or the other.
I don’t think I need much effort to convince you that we live in a world that idealizes extroversion. Just look at movie characters, stars, singers, or other celebrities.
And it’s easy to believe that these people are 100% extroverts and always act in an extroverted way. And that there is something wrong if we don’t. Or that we can’t get successful if we’re not.
But it’s like Facebook. All we see is what people want to show us, and they usually want to show us only one part.
The truth is that there is no need to be more extrovert (or the opposite). It is just what it is, like your height, or your preferences. And it requires full acceptance from you.
But shyness is a different story.
Shyness is not an innate trait, it’s a series of learned mindsets and behaviors. It is a lack of confidence which almost always come from fear: fear of being disapproved, fear of being embarrassed, fear of not be able to stand up for oneself, etc…
Shyness is workable. Introversion doesn’t have to.
Understanding the clear difference between introversion and shyness is avoiding a great amount of unnecessary suffering, by accepting what cannot be changed (introversion) and work on what can be improved (shyness).
The Need to Sell
Well, why does all of this matter?
Because whether you like it or not, you are in a constant need to sell.
Are you an employee? Then you need to sell your ideas to your boss. You’re actually an entrepreneur? You need to sell your vision to get funds. You have your own money? You still need your customers to use your products. Wait, you’re a teacher? You have to get the attention of your students. Got any kids? You need to get them to behave.
Maybe you have so much money that you don’t need to work. Ok. But you want a date right? You’re gonna have to sell yourself there too.
Whatever you’re doing, you need to sell. Even more than ever. Internet = more connections = more information = less attention = harder to sell. The silver lining? It forces you to work on your communication skills. (BTW if you have a Facebook account, then you’re already probably selling yourself there.)
This required a strong change of mindset for me.
I used to believe that if I was a good person, smart, and hardworking, then things would speak for themselves. But it doesn’t work like that.
I also had a very negative connotation around the term selling. I always had in mind the picture of car sellers. Liars, manipulative, pushy, dishonest. (Sorry if you’re one of the good guys.)
But selling doesn’t have to mean that.
Influencing people positively is selling, changing the world for the better goes through selling, contributing to your community also. The way you talk, the way you behave, all of it is part of selling. And it doesn’t have to be fake.
If you don’t know how to express yourself, if you don’t ask for what you want, if you don’t have strong communication skills, then all the things that are in your pretty head will mostly stay, well, in there.
What you like doesn’t need any change, but need to be fully accepted by you. Who you are, introvert or extrovert, doesn’t need any change, but need to be fully accepted by you.
But your fears are not you, your shyness is not you, and your communication style is not you either. These things are workable. And probably, nowadays, that work is not only recommended but necessary.