I relived my first few weeks at work. I was young, teetering at the last teen age. I knew big things awaited me, but I feared deep of unknown promises of the future. I wasn’t sure I was ready to take whatever the world would giveth. I met a lot of people—and having grown up in a modest town with limited exposure to the outside world, accepting a job in Chennai, a metropolitan city of 4 million, was a little more than overwhelming. I withdrew within myself, using my inherent introversion to stay away from conversations or introductions.
Soon I’d created a reputation for myself as the one who’d cling to the seat, unspeaking, involuntary to contribute opinions. I never spoke in meetings, sulking instead, in a corner, with my arms crossed, listening to the seniors as well as the more extroverted juniors speak their mind. Later, alone in my room, I’d reason I didn’t have an opinion to share.
Today, five years later, there’s drastic difference in me. Not only am I more outspoken of my opinions and observations, but I’m also more confident in meeting people. I’m comfortable interacting with my team members, listening to their arguments, refuting when necessary, and putting forth my arguments in sequence. (Although I still need practice on come back statements and spontaneous debates,) I see the huge progress I’ve made over the years. And when I greet a new comer in the team, my feet no longer feel too large and my tongue doesn’t twist inside my mouth. Instead of shuffling my feet in discomfort, I feel empowered. My handshakes are stronger and my face relaxes into a easy-going smile. I’ve felt myself changing from the scared person I used to be.
And this made me wonder: Have I become an extrovert all of a sudden?
I haven’t. I’m still the same introvert who needs downtime, who prefers solitude over company, who’s happy dining alone.
In fact, I realised, we often misunderstand awkwardness as introversion. An inexperienced person may feel awkward in many situations, but that doesn’t make them an introvert. Funny how we name personality traits even before we know better.