Stay with me. I’ve got a story for you that you might have experienced yourself at some point in the past, as well — if you are an introvert. I am sure that extroverts will have difficulties understanding the essence of my narrative, but I am just simply looking to share my deep feelings with other people who hide their introversion.
I am used to hiding my feelings from the others, because most people do not understand my introvert nature. When I tried to open and share my feelings during the teenage years, most of the time I received confused looks and pretend smiles. The same result persisted into early adulthood.
For example, what was wrong with telling people that I didn’t want to stay after the working day to go to an office party because I preferred to do other things? Nothing. What was wrong with wishing to have an honest conversation with just one person who understood me rather than others who did not even pretend to care? Right, nothing!
My “Sweet” Office Life
Let me tell how I started my professional career. I sent out a bunch of resumes and got several responses. When I finally got a job as an office worker, my main responsibility was to call people on a list and offer them to invest in Facebook applications developed by our company. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. You should be that crazy sales person who could sell ice to Eskimos. I am not one of them, so my lead-generation efforts were a little bit less successful compared to my colleagues.
In addition to this, I started to notice the change in my colleagues’ attitude towards me. Apparently, some of my colleagues thought my working style was strange and even “inappropriate.” My results can be explained by one thing: I had trouble adjusting to the new workplace. I am an introvert, for God’s sake, I hate change! Naturally, only a few persons understood me and most of my colleagues did not appreciate that I avoided being gentle and having small talk with them at every opportunity.
What was the point of that small talk? What could I possibly discuss with them that would get me interested? Talking about conversations with clients and other job-related stuff got old really quick for me. As the result, I felt like a stranger in a strange land because I felt different than others, so my actions must have seemed unnatural for my colleagues. I wish I had just one more introvert in the office, I really did.
Can you imagine how hard it was to work with people who thought I was “strange” instead of trying to make a simple attempt to figure out why I acted this way? Smiling to them every day and trying to focus on the tasks to avoid thinking about how left out I felt in the office was what I really did at that job.
Sometimes, my colleagues would laugh about something during the break without even telling me what it was that made them laugh. I was an outsider, so they got used to not involving me in conversations and discussions. Well, I was completely okay with that, and I was even glad I didn’t have to do that. It just showed me, once again, how disconnected I could be from the surrounding world because I was an introvert.
At that point, I realized how difficult it was for me to maintain an office job simply because I could not connect with my colleagues. Clearly, they did not want to connect with me, so I needed to find another job that would keep me happy. I needed the right people to work with me, because it would really make me super productive and help to connect with them. That meant only one thing: another change.
Even though I intuitively knew that office work would make me go crazy and isolate myself from others, I tried a few times more. The result, however, was almost the same every time. The best option was entrepreneurship, but I did not have sufficient funds to start my own company (though that would be cool, and I have lots of ideas). So I had to find that golden mean. And I did.
I currently work as a freelance writer. I found that it plays to one of my strengths, plus it helps to avoid an overload of interactions every day (no more small talk). I can write, plus I get to communicate much less (and electronically, which is more comfortable for me). Also, there is no forced interaction with colleagues, and most of the time the interaction is initiated by me because I needed to find clients. And, most importantly, I get to spend more time interacting with people who understand and support me. That’s priceless!
I am comfortable expressing my feelings to people I am close with because I believe they are the only ones who trust me. I am not used to interacting with lots of people because I don’t feel comfortable. Of course, I realize that keeping things to myself has become a habit, but that’s just the way I like it. Hiding my feelings every day and smiling in the office just to fit in is not for me. I think about how the listener would feel about my words, but no one in that office did the same. Can you imagine what that did to my extreme sensitivity?
Whether it is an inability or a choice I made, it was much better to express myself with a small group of people who understood what I meant. I doubt that a single person on my first job understood how I felt, because most of them did not really think about the feelings of others. Even though I sometimes think of myself as the only person who feels this way, it is my way, nonetheless.