A little less introverted

Last time I was in the US, I presented a talk to a roomful of people who intended to hear me speak. And I delivered that presentation across four cities. It was a work thing and I, along with my colleagues, helped customers figure out better ways to use our product.

It wasn’t my first time, so I wasn’t as stressed as I thought I’d be. On my first time, however, I spent weeks sleepless, burning myself out, almost to the point of hallucinating. But even then I managed to stand my ground facing an audience of about 75-100.

And during yet another trip, I attended an event called ISTE. It was a global conference for educators, and my goal was to talk to as many people as possible, understand their pain points, and identify ways to pitch our product to them. I initiated conversations with hundreds of strangers without creeping them out.


I want to say I was tall and skinny at thirteen, but I wasn’t. I was short and quite plump, and I enjoyed school life. The internet wasn’t in my life then so I had plenty of time to spend watching cartoons, reading, musing about my life, and creating random verses I called poetry.

At seventeen, things had improved a little. I was online at last and made my first contact with the alien world of Facebook. Not long after, I set up this blog (thanks bro for naming it and paying for the domain). I soon transitioned from journal writing and self-pity poetry to more general writing. As if in an epiphany, I realised I could write about anything and with practice, become good at it. Every day became a hunt for a writing prompt, and I craved more to publish blog posts than to meet friends outside of school. Social life? Near non-existent.

How, regardless of all that, I landed a writing internship at nineteen is rather surprising. But I took it, and eight months later, joined the company as a marketing copywriter.


By the time I was twenty-two, I had presented in front of an American audience. For the first time, circumstances thrust me into a room full of people I’d never met before. And it was fine.

I’ve come a long way since my high school days of scrawling in my journal. From being a timid teenager who preferred to stay away from people, who believed the stereotypes of introversion and revelled in being one, I’ve seen a drastic change in myself.

I’m still an introvert. I sometimes even take the long way to avoid running into people or stay in on weekends instead of partying with friends. But I no longer try and fit myself into other people’s opinion of an introvert.

There’re countless articles online that try and decode an introvert’s behaviour, all the while enforcing new guidelines for being one.

My work life changed my perspective on introversion. Being forced to meet people, I learnt that I enjoy working with various personalities. I saw that I was even good at making lasting connections. “Understand the introvert” type of articles will tell you most writers are introverts, that we live in a bubble, and aren’t conversation starters. That’s not always true. I write for a living, and I don’t shy away from extending the first word, but that doesn’t make me any less of an introvert.

We all face apprehension in life. I did too when it came to communicating with people. Tying that to introversion is unwise to say the least.

Introvert or not, some people need time and exposure to become a better communicator. Simple as that.

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When solo traveller goes with a group

I’m not as well-travelled as I’d like to be, but everywhere I’ve been to, I’ve been with other people. Even my three visits to the US were work trips with colleagues close behind me. However, when we weren’t working, and when it was time to explore, I’d leave them to their plans and fly solo.

I’ve always been that way, and I’ve never felt bad about it either. My reasons are simple enough: I don’t want to go to the same places they do, and I don’t want to do the same activities as they. When I’m travelling with colleagues, no matter where we’re at, they will always want to go shopping. Which is fine by me, except they have people to give things to and I don’t. I’ve never been much of a shopaholic or the typical tourist, but my colleagues are. And that’s the reason I head out on my own. Of course, it’s unfair to ask them to spend time with me on activities they’d rather not indulge in.

With such strong reasoning, I discovered the joys of travelling solo. And it taught me a lot of great things too. For the first time, I was responsible for myself. And it wasn’t as scary as my parents had told me it’d be. On the contrary, it was fun. It was, of course, little unnerving at times, when I struggled to figure out the way ahead or how to handle situations, but I got through them fine. And I realised the benefits of solo travel far outweighed its negatives.

Never compromise

The inevitable factor about social living is that we have to compromise. And I did compromise in my work trips, with the flight preferences, hotel reservations, seats and transport modes, and sometimes even food. But as soon as I ventured on my own, I didn’t have to compromise anymore. I could take the bus if I wanted to or save time eating a bagel on the way rather than waiting for my co-travellers to finish a five-course veal meal. I could, most of all, stop where my heard did. 

It was the best feeling ever—freedom in every sense of the word. Since I didn’t have to endure their endeavours for souvenirs or their selfie experiments, I got more time to do what I like—whether it’s window shopping at a bakery or hiking up a hill for the breathtaking views, I loved having complete autonomy.

While I was basking in the glory of travelling alone, my teammates planned a team trip. And I was to go along with about ten other people. I had misgivings even before we left. Unused to going along with others, I didn’t know if I’d manage it. I even asked myself if it’s worth going at all, knowing full well I won’t have a good time.

But I went anyway. And I wasn’t all wrong. It wasn’t easy for me to adjust to others’ routines and plans. It wasn’t the best experience squishing seven people in a five-seater car or listening to music I don’t like all the way on a road trip. Although most of us wanted to go on a sunrise drive, I hated waking the reluctant others at 3:00 am. It pained me to be the plant eater in a meat restaurant watching the group order piece after piece.

Regardless of all this, every time we were out together, at a waterfall or a bridge, or a street walk, I enjoyed myself in spite of myself. Sure, I wish we hadn’t taken so many group photos and selfies or spent so much time waiting for the others to get ready, but I also had small moments I cherish to this day.

I didn’t have to be the only responsible one throughout. Or watch behind my shoulders all the time. Or ask for directions or pay for every meal. For once, I was part of something bigger than myself. Yes, I had to check we were heading in the right direction, and stay awake talking to prevent our driver from falling asleep, but at the end of it, it wasn’t only about me, and that didn’t feel so bad.

Go with the flow

I’d visited countless waterfalls before. But for the first time, I showered in a waterfall during the team trip. As I saw my colleagues run into the water, I was happy to join them without worrying who’ll watch my stuff (lucky for me, some of my team-mates are afraid of water).

I learnt to let the inevitable flow of events engulf me, and to my surprise, I had fun. I laughed more than I thought I would, made friends of unexpected people, and even had someone interested in taking my picture. Travelling with a group, I realised, isn’t so bad after all. After all, you get to know for real about people you thought you knew.

Solo travel makes you feel like you own the world, while group travel makes you feel belonged.

Which is better, though, is subjective. I’ll always vote for going alone, but I wouldn’t negate the thrill of travelling with others.

Let’s forget

Forgetfulness gets a bad reputation.

Of course, loss of memory is a bad thing and no one should say otherwise. However, for the last couple of days, I’ve been fiddling with the idea of mindful forgetfulness.

The more I think about it, the more I feel its validity. When we’re conscious of what we want to forget, we forget memories that aren’t worth clinging to anymore. Like a bitter breakup, an embarrassing presentation at work, an ungrateful argument with family… all those incidents that we wish had never happened will fade away when we choose to forget.

But even as I write that, I know it’s not just about forgetting. Humans don’t forget the bad things so soon. In fact, we sometimes may never forget, letting it rot inside our mind, poisoning our being, and making us more miserable than we deserve to be.

That’s why we should forgive.

We should forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made. And forgive others who’ve wronged us. Because once we forgive, it won’t affect us anymore. When we forgive ourselves for messing up the presentation at work, we set ourselves free of the bitter memory. We’ll work harder next time, and not let the failure hang over our heads as a threat.

This way, we are free from harrowing thoughts, and our lives will fill up with positive energy. With the negativity gone, we’ll have more time and willingness to remember what matters most to us and cherish the small things in life.

Perhaps mindful forgetfulness isn’t so bad after all.

– – – – – –

Thanks for the muse, Kumud Ajmani and #SpiritChat.

Corporatism

air travel

Credit: @wistomsin

A thing of the past

before work got in the way

weekend getaways

 

Evolution of a copywriter

All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women corporate players
They have their exits and their entrances
And one copywriter in their time plays many parts,
Their acts being many stages. At first, landing page writer,
Whining and sucking up to search engine’s demands.
Then the musing copywriter, with a wonder
And unsure morning face, creeping like snail
battling the block. And then the reviewer,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful look
of enduring unendearing copy. Then a soldier,
The editor—full of strange rules, wired like a DJ,
Unperturbed, irritable, excited all in quick succession,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the manager’s good books. And then a senior,
In fair round belly with experience underneath,
With eyes bloodshot trying shoes of formal cut,
Full of wise wit and modern puns;
And so they play their part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and pushback chair,
With spectacles on nose and munchies on side;
The youthful curiosity well satisfied, in a world growing
bigger than ad copy, evolving into testing,
Turning toward marketing, managing social
media and listening. Last scene of all,
That topples this strange eventful history,
Is second copywriting and mere simplicity,
Sans typos, sans click-baits, sans vanity metrics—well, almost.


It’s been almost five years since I started working as a copywriter. And during that period, I’ve had to play many different roles within my team. I was wondering how a copywriter is also a content marketer, a social media manager, advertising writer, script writer, technical writer, creative writer, and so much more, when I remembered one of my all-time favourite poems. The connection seemed only too obvious.