23 August 2014

in the mind of a painfully shy introvert

Lifehacker articles are sometimes not very helpful. There were earlier articles on how the shy introverted behaviour can be broken free of because it is a mere habit. Well, it's more than just a habit to me. It has become my personality over the years.

I am not aloof (ask my friends!). I like people. I just don't enjoy hanging out with people that much. I like the library, I stick to the wisdom in the books and no one asks for a conversation there. I love beadweaving, I pick up each bead to create something beautiful and no one disturbs me when I'm holding a needle. I like social media, I can be the friendliest or the most kpo and no one really knows the true me.

Having been betrayed by close friends previously, it is not easy for others to earn my trust, and my trust has to be earned over time and one has to prove they are worthy of my trust. Trust is different from respect; respect can be earned from the first instance. Even if you have not met the person before, you can respect a person through his or her achievements in life or at work.

My automated preference is to be on my own and to observe from a distance. In the midst of a busy shopping center or a company function, I tend to feel very lonely and it mostly frightens me to be around so many people. I enjoy having lunch or going to the movies on my own. It gives me time to disconnect and to reconnect with myself. It is very refreshing especially being bombarded non-stop at work by emails. After all, I have always been rather independent and enjoy doing so.

And the most funny thing?

My career choices in Marketing and Human Resources do not really allow for the very shy and introverted to strive. It can be difficult when you are not shouting for attention. If no one knows you are there, you are probably not very successful.

As for me, I earn respect from my colleagues in another way, through the quality of my work and genuinely caring and paying attention. Some folks just give face-value, while I do give a damn! I was pleasantly surprised when catching up with ex-J&J colleagues last night when Chelsea and Cheryl compared me to the current administrators and that I was unmatched for my speed and quality of work! I left J&J in October 2011, i.e. almost 3 years ago!

Every once in a while, I force myself out of my comfort zone. Be it to approach customers or employees to start a conversation. It can be painful for me, but it is part of my job and I have to come to terms with it. Don't ask me about the times I have to stand in front of an audience and speak!

Obviously I try to avoid social events such as networking nights as much as possible. Sure, ask me a question and I will reply you. Talk to me and I do listen. But it mostly kills me to pick up my courage to speak to a stranger. Just thinking of whether to speak about the weather or the transportation to the venue, I would already be battling in my mind, phrasing and re-phrasing the question for the last minute or two.

Someone in my youth group (oh man, that is so long ago) once asked me if quiet people tend to think a lot. She thought that a very quiet person like me was either very noisy internally, or either very empty.

The truth is... I do think a lot, and it's hard to shut out the thoughts and worries even at the time I am ready for bed. I also daydream a lot, of how this and that might have worked out if this and that had happened instead. I also observe a lot, scrutinizing and analyzing others' actions, words and perspectives. And I am aware not to be too quick to judge and issue a verdict.

And I do not feel alone when I am by myself. Thank God for the Internet, social media and blogs!

Today I attended another workshop which teaches me some technical skills. Reaching home past midnight the night before, I overslept a little this morning and came in about 10 minutes' late. After quickly setting up my laptop and trying to settle down, a woman joined the room and asked if the seat beside me was taken. Honestly, my biggest regret today is to tell her to take the seat.

She knew she was late, but set up slowly and could not catch up with the instructor. She chit chats with those seating nearby, and kept using her mobile phone. It was no wonder why she didn't catch up. What pisses me off are the constant distractions. She asked me for help, and the few times I helped her, she insisted she has done the steps when clearly to me, she didn't. I was a new learner too and was eager to document each piece of wisdom imparted, especially since no notes were provided. Eventually I gave up even turning my head over, the others around us tried to helped her a few times (they can think I am not helpful if they want, but I had enough noise), and soon she had no choice but to ask the instructor to come to her.

After pointing out the issue to her, the instructor saw from my laptop screen that I have completed the required, and nudged me twice to help this woman. The instructor was speaking over the microphone. I tell you... I almost died at that instance. After a month of trying my best to pick up new things in my new job at light speed, I am already pushing myself to the limit to attend this series of technical workshops. I was initially being nice to this woman. And I was truly pissed. But oh well, I continued to help this woman a few more times throughout the full-day workshop. There were many occasions I felt like screaming to her 'Shut up!',  'Stop using your phone!', 'Pay attention!"...

When the guru shared last week about some folks who don't seem to have any friends and desperately rely on such events to share the story of the lives, you can be sure that I nodded my head very hard. Met one last week. I don't understand why he paid that much to attend the workshop when all he wanted was status quo.

I was not there to make friends. That's the truth.

I paid good money to attend the workshop. I was there to learn and to absorb as much as possible as I could.

A painfully shy introvert makes friends in different ways. And my trust, yes that has to be earned before I call you my friend.