Yesterday I dragged my inner extrovert out of its dusty box and taught a beadwork class, something I haven’t done in several years. I absolutely know, without a doubt, that I can teach jewelry making classes and still I was anxious. Standing in front of a group of people and teaching them about something the I love is scary stuff. So is putting myself “out there” on the internet to help promote my writing. The whole being social part of social media. The kind of thing that makes an introverted writer sweat and break out in hives. And, I was born an introvert. Right?

I don’t think so. I was well into my 30’s before I realized it, but I think many of my introverted tendencies were taught to me as I was growing up by an extremely introverted parent. I was taught that I shouldn’t draw attention, good or bad, to myself. Performing in front of an audience was supposed to be terror-inducing torture. Also, if faced with a challenge, walk away and avoid at all cost. Is it any wonder that I preferred holing up in my room with a pile of books instead of having a social life?

I have taught my own children that they can try to do anything they want, that they should take on challenges and do their best. My 13-year old daughter performs drama monologues in front of an auditorium packed full of people for competitions and talent shows. The ghost of my former 13-year old self wants to hide under the seats when I watch her do this but I am insanely proud or her and my son for all of the things that he does, like flying RC airplanes and now participating in a math competition.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of the lessons in self-confidence that I’ve tried to teach my children. The publishing world is a sort of Wild West-style new frontier right now. Anything is possible, if you work hard. Part of the hard work is networking and socializing, trying to connect with readers. The kind of things that is tough for an introvert.

Building up my extrovert muscles isn’t easy. Viewing my introverted tendencies as one of those little devils sitting on my shoulder helps. So does just doing something, instead of worrying about doing it. If I was taught to be introverted I can teach myself to be the extrovert I need to be to succeed as a writer.

How about you? What do you do when your confidence is wavering and you just want to crawl under a rock?


15 thoughts on “Extroverted Me

    1. I think just knowing that you can get through anything is important. And, for me, it gets easier to step out of the comfort zone if you so do on a regular basis.

  1. I’m sure “nature” plays a role when it comes to being introverted, but I also think it’s mostly “nurture.” That’s certainly how I see my own background. Various role models and direct parental input did a lot to push me in the “painfully shy, overly self-aware” direction. But I was not only able to get on stage in high school but found that I really liked it and have enjoyed public speaking as an adult. I’m probably better off in front of a crowd than in one-to-one interactions with any but closest friends and family. However, I haven’t been able to effectively translate that willingness to be in front of a crowd into anything meaningful in my attempts at publishing. For now, I should probably just keep under my rock and work on publishing new and better work.

    1. I’m impressed that you were able to perform on stage as a teen. I could do band concerts, but that’s about it. I remember shaking so much I could barely play my instrument! Maybe you could think of social media as the “crowd” you are speaking to. Sometimes it feels like you are just talking to white noise, but sometimes you can make a connection. Good luck with your writing and publishing!

  2. I’d say it’s in the nature of writers to be introverts — don’t we enjoy it most when we’re alone and writing? I do agree it’s necessary to act like an extrovert from time to time, if we want to promote our books. So, from time to time, I force myself to reach out. Miraculously enough, I manage to survive it.

    1. I do think the vast majority of writers are introverts. I have to wonder how much writing someone can get done if they are always surrounded by people. I guess as far as promoting ourselves, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger!

  3. I put on my Big Girl Panties, build myself a bridge, and tell myself to get over it! It’s not always easy, but you can’t be triumphant without falling flat on your face first anyway!

    1. I love your bridge analogy! Since I released my new book my big girl panties have been getting a lot of use. 🙂

  4. Now that you mention it… this might just be the case for my own introverted me. My mom is completely introverted, so much so she’s always lamenting being single yet never does anything to be otherwise; never ever goes out and meet new people.

    That said, I like sometimes letting the extroverted me out and playing. With good measure I can live with that. But I’m always going to be an introvert at heart.

  5. I’ve only truly learned how to relax and enjoy and embrace my introverted self about two years ago (think I was a 92% introvert in one of those personality tests). Self-promotion is tedious so I’d comfort myself and say, ‘Just do what you can. Don’t do stuff you don’t want to, and just keep working on your writing. Let your writing promote you instead …’ When my self-confidence wavers, as it frequently does, I head to the library, watch the brilliant green trees in the park across it, have coffee, read and freewrite. Things usually perk up after this therapy session.

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