Confession time: I’m an introvert at heart.
I’m still shocked when people don’t believe me when I say it.
Yeah, I’m involved in a lot of activities that require me to operate in front of others, and yes, I am incredibly scared to do them. I operate with my tried and true method, and I like to call it the “one-two-three screw it.” Everyone expects an introvert to be shy and reclusive, and we can be, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve competed in speaking events as a member of the Ferris debate team for almost four years now, and every time I get up in front of people I freak out: skin sweating, mouth dry, heart pounding. Sometimes my fingers tingle and I can’t feel my face. Who subjects themselves to this type of mental torture on an almost-daily basis? Me, apparently. If I ever need an adrenaline high, all I need to do is engage in some small talk with complete strangers to get my fix.
My mantra is something that gets me through potentially embarrassing or risky moments. On the job as a journalist, I’ve had to curate the power of just saying “screw it” to get the job done. Even when I am scared and uncertain, at least I get results when I force myself to do the thing that terrifies me. Interactions with other people require you to be “on” all of the time, and I find the stimuli of large crowds to be exhausting after enough time has passed. I need to recharge in between feats of confidence, or else I burn out.
Introverts do just as many things that extroverts can do — sometimes it just means you have to do them in a round-about way. If I’m nervous about asking for something, like ordering food or talking on the phone, I can psych myself out, but if my friend needs something I’m all but vaulting over the counter in maximum overdrive to get them what they need. The brain is a funny thing, huh? Sometimes my mantra doesn’t work, and I’m left to dole out an escape. So yeah, if I’m cracking jokes, sometimes I’m doing it to establish myself as the funniest person in the room, but other times I’m trying to deal with the fact that my body is sending out stress signals, and I need to try and abort the mission by coping with sarcasm.
The moral of the story is, yes I am terrified or uncomfortable with a lot of things like public speaking, and I’m a bit of a masochist that lives by a mantra to function, but I have the champion medals to prove that faking it until you’re making it can work to your advantage when being an introvert is stamped on your forehead.