There Is Nothing Wrong With Being An Introvert
I am an introvert. It’s true. Some refer to it as a ‘Virgo trait’ but I’d have to disagree as I know some very outgoing Virgos who are the life of the party! I, on the other hand, am most comfortable when I’m alone.
I came to the revelation that I’m an introvert, who also has social anxiety sometime last year when I was watching rapper Wale in an interview which featured a live audience, and a girl expressed that she felt that he was being rude because he didn’t take a photo with her. His body language, which was already guarded, started to shift, and he looked uncomfortable. He later revealed to the radio host (Bushman) that he was playing with his phone as a way to stay distracted because he was going through extreme anxiety, having to talk in front of people and not being prepared.
I’m a real person. I’m nervous too. I don’t have music playing, I’m not performing. I’m nervous. I perform in front of a 100 thousand people, but I’m performing. I’m not a public speaker. If it wasn’t for my phone, both of my hands would be sweating.
He also elaborated in an interview with Jas Fly:
I’m weird because I get uncomfortable [with] fishbowl sh-t. I got anxiety. I mentally prepare if I’m doing a meet and greet, but if I go somewhere and everybody stop and I don’t’ have time to prepare, my heart starts racing and I start getting sweaty and anxious and I just [motions as if he’s pushing something away]. People think just because you’re famous, you’re supposed to be who they want you to be. There’s an expectation that I can’t live up to.
Ironically, Wale is a Virgo, but listening to him talk about his anxiety was all too familiar to me. A common trait of Introverts is social anxiety. When you are someone with Wale’s success, you are expected to be ON all of the time, and no matter how you are feeling, it’s your job to be friendly, and cordial, and take photos with the people who support you and potential fans. It’s a very difficult position to adjust to when you grew up as the only child, wasn’t the most popular person in your class, or haven’t been thrust in the most encouraging environments.
When I was 18, I left my small town of Maryland to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore. It was the first time that I interacted with people who weren’t from my town, and it was there that I realized how different I was. For one, I did not know that I was poor and poverty-stricken until I went off to college. When everyone you know, grows up in the same conditions, you don’t really realize your struggle, until you are exposed to the ‘real world.’
For the first week weeks, I was teased every single day because of the way I talked. Because I had a very southern accent, and I didn’t pronounce a lot of words right, people felt as though I was unintelligent. Every time I would talk, they would mock the way I spoke, and I quickly became a mute. It was hurtful! As a result, I would only speak around my friends, but would be very quiet around other people. I eventually transferred out of that school to nearby Towson, and spent my years there listening to how people who were articulate spoke, while attempting to pick up their dialect.
Years later, when I became a blogger, I think people automatically thought I was a social butterfly because I was so willing to reveal the face behind the website, in a time where it was rare to even know who was writing the content on black blogs, not to mention I would be invited to parties and actually go, but I was very much battling my social anxiety behind the scenes.
I knew at some point, I’d have to be more outgoing, network, maybe even make some appearances on television and radio, so I started preparing myself by hiring a speech coach. As the blog began getting better, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fake the funk for much longer, and I wanted to be prepared for any blessings God sent my way.
My speech is a lot better but it still hasn’t helped me fully battle my anxiety. When I walk in a room, especially one that is filled with people who are in the industry, I get anxiety. I feel like I am being judged. I feel as though I can’t live up to these people’s perception of who I am supposed to be. I’m no Wendy Williams. I’m no Oprah. Those media mavens speak well!
I’m definitely not the type of person that will walk up to someone and introduce myself, but I will ask someone to make the introduction if I really want to meet someone. In these environments, I become distant. I become that girl from a small town that used to be teased for the way she talked….but no matter how much anxiety I am experiencing, I will never turn down a photo from my supporters because that can blur the line of being rude.
I remember last year, 2013, I went to a Grammy party with a girlfriend of mine. I don’t know what made us think we were gonna chill in a corner, drink cocktails and dance all night, but from the time we walked in the door until the time we left (2 hours later) there were people (publicists, managers, and label reps) lined up to pitch stuff (to go on the website) and I was being pulled in every which direction. I literally thought I was going to pass out on spot. My heart started racing, I started sweating, and the room felt as though it was enclosing in on me. At one point, my friend said, ‘This is overwhelming,’ and she pulled me into a bathroom stall where I sat for about 10 minutes gathering my thoughts. Looking back, I could have just handed out my business card, told them to send the stuff to our tips box, and kept it moving, but I proceeded to have lengthy conversations with every single person who stopped me in fear of being labeled as rude.
In response to my revelation about being an introvert on Twitter, comedian Lil Duval wrote, ‘That’s insecurities!’ If my anxiety is a result of me being teased, then insecurities may very well have something to do with it, however I felt his response could have been a negative reaction to what I had just revealed. It was a reminder, that a lot of people do not open up about things that they deal with personally in fear of the negative feedback they will receive or better yet, they fear they will be judged.
No one wants to be judged for their flaws or personal hang ups. I only write about mine because I know I’m not the only one who deals with this. On Instagram, hundreds of people responded to my post, ‘ME TOOOOOOOO!’
Being an introvert is not uncommon. [A study revealed that 60% of the gifted are introverts! And guess what, a lot of introverts work in creative fields or become writers!] Social anxiety is not uncommon. Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially celebs, who have to be ON all of the time, self-medicate themselves by turning to drugs to cope with the anxiety. I’d rather that not be my story, so I continue every day to work on my personal hang ups.
I’ve come a long way in just the last three years alone, but I have so much more work to do, and until I am able to get over this hump, it will be hard to reach my full potential as a blogger/entrepreneur. But I’m working on it.
The Lesson: No matter what your hang ups are, stay encouraged. Don’t allow those things to hold you back from being the great person you can be, or becoming successful. And most importantly, try not to allow people to make you feel bad about it.
Know that there are tons of other people who are going through the same thing.
Published June 2014