How to be a quiet guy in a world of extroverts
July 11, 2010 6:24 AM Subscribe
Introversion: it's always made my personal life difficult and now I'm worried it might cost me my job too! I need tips on how to stop retreating into my shell before this gets any worse.
posted by photo guy to Human Relations (19 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Habitual quiet guy here, late 20s who's been an introvert his entire life. I have a lot of theories on why that I won't go into here, just suffice to say that environmental factors taught me to become independent and self-reliant from an early age, habits that I have carried throughout my life thus far. While it's always been a stumbling block, at this point in my life I've learned to put up with being the wallflower who rarely gets noticed and have picked up the habit of getting lost in thought and being comfortable keeping myself company.
The issue? My current job (teaching) requires an almost ridiculous degree of extroversion, making work quite challenging - not to mention exhausting! The breaking point was this past week, when my boss basically said (to his credit, it was in the nicest possible terms!) that my less-than-exciting demeanor is scaring away students and I need to do what I can to address this. The same demeanor seems to also be hurting my relationships with my co-workers, which only makes things worse.
I took this job for financial reasons, but I know now that teaching is not what I should be doing with my life in the long term. While I love LOVE my students and really get a kick out of seeing them have an "aha!" moment, I sometimes "clam up" during class when I'm confused, stressed, or just trying to figure out something (which makes me look really, really bad in the eyes of my students and my boss), I don't really know or care about the subject matter (English as a Second Language - yes, I'm yet another Westerner working overseas as an English teacher) and ultimately I just don't think this is a valid career option for introverts like myself. I'm pursuing other career possibilities, but for the short term I really need to make this job work until I can figure out something better.
I also think overcoming the burden of quietness would help me acclimate better to my current surroundings. While I made rather significant efforts to meet other people when I first moved here, various factors made that rather difficult and have left me friendless. The result is that I've basically retreated into my shell again and am no longer really trying to reach out and make connections with anyone in my spare time (which leaves me unhappy, only making my situation at work that much worse). I think if I would stop doing this and really WANT to and TRY to connect with other people (or God forbid, actually make some friends), I would have a far easier time living here.
So how do I break my old habits? Therapy is a rather obvious solution, but low-cost options seem to be non-existent in this country and the cheapest English-language therapist I can find in the area charges over $100 USD/hour. My insurance won't cover therapy and I definitely don't have the means to spend that kind of money out-of-pocket on an ongoing basis.
Perhaps some other solution? Maybe there's some sort of way that I can "fake it till I make it" - that is, just get into the right mindset to avoid the trap of quietness?