I used to think that I was socially awkward because I identified myself as an introvert. It made it easy for me not to deal with or figure out why I felt uncomfortable in many social situations, “oh, I’m an introvert, so I’m bad at social situations, easy, nothing to see here, moving right along!”
The thing is, it really didn’t serve me as a business owner. I wanted to be good at social situations, I wanted to be capable of being the life of a party or at least…ya know…alive at a party. I didn’t want to keep dreading every time an invitation said “networking” on it as part of the agenda.
So I decided to figure it out, how to be comfortable in new social situations.
I read books about it, most memorably – “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and it turned me on to a key idea. That to be interesting is to be interested. I learned that I didn’t need to imagine how I would keep a conversation going, or try to fill the dead air with facts I knew, but rather if I expressed interest in others they would happily fill the blank space in the air for me. And in their talking I found I frequently could learn interesting new things! Great.
So I got there, with a bit of time and practice, not life of the party, but certainly alive at parties.
I had to give something up, though. I had to give my belief that “as an introvert, I’m bad in social situations.” It was a blanket that comforted me and protected me from seeing and admitting I had a weakness in this area. I learned that introvert and extrovert simply refer to how one regains social energy, and not at all to ones social skills. I love giving a presentation to 100 people, I’m not the slightest shy about it, and when I’m done I need half a day to myself to get ready to deal with humans again.
So now I know that being an introvert just means scheduling time for myself after social situations to recharge, not that I’m bad at being social. Letting go of that belief lets me go comfortably into all sorts of new situations and learn all sorts of fun and interesting things!