Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Being an introvert is hard work.  As a self-proclaimed introvert, I know this first hand.  Because our society highly values socializing and being an extrovert, I find I am constantly pushing myself to reach out beyond my comfy little bubble and at least act like an extrovert so that I can be more successful in things I enjoy doing.  With the rise of the internet and, more specifically, social media, socializing has been taken to a whole new level and along with that, a whole new set of expectations.

It is all a bit overwhelming.

Facebook statuses, Tweets, Tumblr pages, blogging…  Oy.

Don’t get me wrong.  All of these things are AMAZING.  The ways we can connect with people we would otherwise never meet is WONDERFUL.  Sharing or acquiring information in a matter of seconds is nothing short of AWESOME.  Getting to write all of this down in a version of an online journal for anyone to read is nerve-wracking GREAT.  But being an introvert in the middle of all of this? Not so awesome.  It’s a boundary pusher, for sure.

NECESSARY SIDE NOTE: Being an introvert has nothing to do with being SHY.  Being SHY is something many introverts have in common, though it is not a defining characteristic of an introvert.  Being introverted simply means that you become energized or recharged by having alone time or doing solitary types of things and you become “drained” by socializing types of events.  Introverts do not get their energy from being social or putting themselves “out there”.  (Extroverts, on the other hand, become energized by socializing with others.) This is not to say that introverts do not enjoy socializing.  I know some very social, very chatty, seemingly extroverted people who are self-proclaimed introverts.  They are the life of a party or can effortlessly do public speaking events AND then it can take them days to recover from such social engagements.  Some introverts, though, ARE shy.  For those introverts, mingling in a group of unknown people or with casual acquaintances is akin to being asked to run the length of a football field – naked – at a sold out college football game with your bits being broadcast on the JumboTron screen for all to see.  It is a huge energy draining endeavor to attend such functions.  I am one of these kinds of introverts. These are my people.

So why am I bringing all of this up?

Because I have ventured into the world of Twitter.

As I did so – grudgingly – I was thinking about all of the unspoken, unconscious introvert rules I follow in my life, about how I structure my day around them and about how I recharge at night.  Many of you have probably been on Twitter for months or years and are most likely wondering why this seems like such a boundary-pusher for me given that I can do it alone from the comfort of my own home.  Here’s why: As an introvert, I tend to keep my thoughts about most things to myself.  As in INSIDE MY OWN HEAD.  I have whole entire conversations in my head.  This is, of course, in stark contrast to the VERY NATURE of Twitter.  Twitter wants you to chat, to share what’s going on with you, to unlock the gates of your mind and share it in 140 characters with the Twittersphere. The Twittersphere = people I don’t know. Socializing with new people, as mentioned above, is kinda overwhelming to me.

Why then, you ask, are you on Twitter? It’s all because of Kristen Lamb, the guru of social media for authors.  (Check out her fabulous blog here.) At the beginning of January, I began one of her online classes through Who Dares Wins Publishing.  As part of the class, each of us have been ordered asked to get on Twitter as a way to communicate with each other in the class, with Kristen, and to build connections with other.

Three weeks ago, I embarked on the Twitter journey, thinking I would ease myself into it.  You know, get a login and password, post a pic, and see what this was all about from afar.  From afar is a big thing for us introverts.  From afar allows us to see the lay of the land before we head into the fray. It is one of the unspoken rules that introverts follow for preservation of the Introverted Species.  Another is sitting/standing near the door when in a group situation.  It’s so we can exit quickly and quietly without drawing attention to ourselves when everything becomes too overwhelming.

Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t want you to do that.

So there I am, getting sucked further and further into the vortex of Twitter, trying to figure out how it all works and what all of the lingo means and after way too many hours, I began to feel like all of the cool kids were friends already and were getting the hang of it while I struggled to even understand the simplest of things.  Feelings of extreme inadequacy paired with irrational anger and irritation over the whole thing made me a bit intolerable difficult to be around for several days.  Or so my family and friends told me. *smiles sheepishly*

But then a funny thing happened. The more I worked at it, the more I began to see the value of it. I am now able to follow some of my favorite authors and read what they are up to as well as get more of a sense of their personalities.  I have also been able to “meet” my fellow classmates and am part of a group of writers that I would have otherwise never met. *waves and smiles to the WANA112 class from the corner near the door*

The feelings of inadequacy from before have been replaced by that warm, fuzzy feeling one has when you’ve finally realized you have been sitting at the cool kids’ table all along.  And that is a pretty great feeling.  I’ve greatly appreciated the warm welcome and the invitations to get to know the other people out there whose interests are similar to my own.  And while I haven’t tweeted much of anything yet, I am wading into the big pond, introverted-style, and hopefully opening up a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities. *backs slowly towards the door* *exits quickly*

What self-imposed boundaries are you pushing this year? What kinds of things are you pushing yourself to do that you’ve not done before?

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15 thoughts on “Pushing the Boundaries (or An Introvert’s Attempts at Living Like an Extrovert)

  1. I relate, Tami, on the forced entry into Twitterverse. This morning, June 22nd, is the first time I used HootSuite for its intended purpose, and I wonder why I waited so long. I get it! Without the HootSuite thread, I would NOT have found your new blog and fun posts.

    You have a fun “online” voice. NOT SO FAST on the speedy exit, Missy.

    There are retweets coming to get you.

    • Thanks, Gloria! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of this new (to me) technology stuff but it’s such a thrill when I finally get it. Thanks for the retweets, too!

  2. I’m squarely in the “chatty introvert” group, and, as a fellow #WANA112 class-member, have also been trying to navigate the Twitter whirlpool (twitterpool?). And in the interest of establishing and building relationships, I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award. Check out my blog post (http://bit.ly/A6lup4) to see the rules.
    Thanks…and great post!

  3. I feel your pain. I have had twitter for quite some time, but I tend to sit here and watch the stream go by, not having a whole lot to add to the conversation (I am that rare combination of a shy extrovert–I love to be around people, in the middle of the group, but I have a hard time speaking up, putting myself out there). I am trying to break out of my shell a bit, but keep finding myself falling into my old habits, watching the #wana112 stream go by. 🙂

    • I know what you mean about watching the stream go by and not feeling like I have a lot to add to the conversation. I find it hard to jump in, too! Like you, I have to get out of my comfort zone and just jump in from time to time.

  4. on ,
    Marianne said:

    I once told someone I was an introvert and she disagreed! So then we agreed I tend to be insecure and wonder why anyone would want to tweet me back. That is my biggest hang up with Twitter – how big of an idiot can I sound like in 140 characters?

    • My biggest hang-up with Twitter is putting too much pressure on myself to have just the “right” thing to say in 140 characters and will anyone really care? It’s definitely a challenge that I have to keep pushing myself towards instead of sitting on the sidelines as an observer. I’ve started mostly with retweets of other’s blogs or statements that I really like or think others will find interesting. I figure that’s a good way to ease into the whole thing.

  5. on ,
    Kristin McFarland said:

    Oh, another “I feel you” here. I’m introverted and I was PAINFULLY shy as a kid. Working as a newspaper reporter for awhile forced me out of that, but Twitter is so new and different that it’s painful all over again.

    It’s nice to know there are other #wana112 writers out there feeling a little awkward on the sidelines, too.

    • I am so glad to hear that others have been struggling with this as much as I have. It has been a painful growing opportunity that I have to keep working at a little each day. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Making New Friends Through Social Media « Patricia Caviglia

  7. I dragged myself onto to Twitter last year because I thought I should</i). I love facebook – talking with people I actually know; why go chat to strangers? (And why would they want to chat to me?) For months I logged in sporadically and didn’t tweet much. Then I started having Twitter conversations with a few people I met IRL and suddenly it made more sense. (Still odd – why tweet publicly when we could chat on FB, but there you go…)

    My approach with the wana112 group is to respond to others’ tweets as much as possible. That seems to be the fastest way of making friends and in a semi-enclosed group, you can’t go too wrong! And then people start responding to me. Everyone’s so friendly!

  8. Pingback: What I’ve Learned From My Extroverted Kids

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