Even though I don't have a 9-5, Mon-Fri job, the weekend still brings with it a certain joy. Saturday morning cartoons, my daughter off at her friends' house... a chance to catch up on everything I haven't done because I was out of town for a week.
I was going to blog about my search for a new coffee shop today (in fact, as soon as I'm done here, I'm going to take a quick shower and head into Royal Oak for the first shop up on my list of potential new haunts), but I while I was eating breakfast, I was surfing the web, hoping to come up with some new marketing strategies for my book. Alas, there is nothing new under the sun.
What I did see in one thread annoyed me a bit, so it is the topic of this morning's blog. See, I'm an introvert. What that means is that I "recharge my internal batteries" by being quietly all by myself. Being alone makes me very happy--sure, once in a while it's good to go out with friends, but I am happiest when I'm not directly engaging with people. That doesn't mean I don't like people, and it does NOT mean I'm shy. And that is the crux of my point. Introvert does not equal shy any more than extrovert equals gregarious. An extrovert simply recharges their inner batteries by being around people. Extroverts tend to focus outwardly; introverts tend to focus inwardly.
The article I was reading about self-promotion made it sound like all introverts were shy, almost timid, people who have a hard time approaching strangers. This is SO not true. Yes, sometimes I have to steel myself a little to walk into a store and pitch my book, but that's more fear of rejection (and a determination to maintain a professional persona when it comes) than fear of talking to a stranger.
Why is this such a big deal to me? Because for years (frigging decades) one message was hammered home to me by family and even sometimes friends: Introvert=shy and shy is Bad. First off, that's just not true, there's nothing "bad" about being shy, as long as you're okay with not having a sea of "friends". If you're both an introvert and shy, and working in a field where you can do that, why try to change?
But see, my family (and sometimes friends) often did try to change me--and because I believed that I was shy, and that being shy was Bad, I bought into it for years. Decades. And I was miserable. For one, I couldn't reconcile my own knowledge of myself (someone who has no problem talking to strangers) with other peoples' perception of me ("oh, she's such a wallflower")--I was looking at myself through others' lenses rather than my own and it was confusing. People would constantly push me to "get out more", "go talk to him/her/them"--and not understand that not wanting to talk to "him/her/them" wasn't the result of fear or insecurity, I just wasn't in the mood for people, I'd been around people all day at work or school and I needed some time to recharge. But being the sort of person who likes to make other people happy, I had a bad habit of going along with it... that eventually changed (and pissed a few people off along the way).
Sometimes family and friends mistook general politeness (that thing family had instilled in me early on) for "shy"--because really, it's not very polite to charge some celebrity at convention full tilt, crashing through the crowd to get to him. It seemed a better tactic to not step on the big Klingon's toes (literally) in order to get to my "target"--but there was my friend, shoving me forward, telling me not to be shy. I may not actually be shy, but even if I were, I don't think the opposite of "shy" is "asshat"--or at least it shouldn't be.
What am I actually getting at? I have no idea. Maybe just this: if you're shy, it's OKAY. Shy isn't Bad, it is what it is. Introvert isn't bad, either. And neither is extrovert. Asshat...now that's bad, that's not something anybody should want to be, even if we do all go there sometimes!
If you're an introvert and not shy, don't let yourself get stuck with somebody else's labels (seriously, don't let yourself get stuck with somebody else's labels no matter who or what you are). Just be you and be happy with you.
And now, I'm off to the Bean and Leaf in Royal Oak, to see if they might be able to meet my needs: a quiet place to work, and a staff that knows how to acknowledge regular customers (because I've been going into the Caribou near my house I moved here 4 years ago, sometimes as often as twice a week, and only *one* barista ever figured out that I was there all the time. I don't want the royal treatment, but seriously, if I practically live there, you'd think they'd notice me. I'm not some kind of wallflower, you know.... ;-)