If you happen to be a bit of an introvert, or a LOT of an introvert (like me), you’ll be no stranger to the term “social anxiety”. There are a virtual ton of introverted business owners out there these days, because as it turns out, the internet is an entrepreneurial introverts dreamland!
On the one hand you can quietly and effectively run your entire operations from the privacy of your own space, and do virtually ALL of your correspondence in writing — which is totally perfect for us introverts because you can take the time to perfect, over-think and over-analyze every word and sentence to absolute death before putting it out there to be scrutinized by the general public. Hooray! But on the other hand, you take the time to perfect, over-think and over-analyze every word and sentence to absolute death before putting it out there to be scrutinized by the general public. NOT hooray. The thing that is the benefit, is the very same thing that is the drawback, and here’s why:
Social anxiety is basically a result of worrying WAY too much about what people are going to think about who you are, what you say and what you do. In small doses it’s fantastic because it allows you to carefully craft smarter outgoing messages about what you mean and how you mean it, it helps you not to accidentally step on so many toes (i.e. stick your foot in your mouth), because you’re extremely perceptive, and chock-full of empathy… but in large doses it’s paralyzing and it keeps you from finding and owning your own unique brilliance, because you’re too busy being agreeable and worrying if people will like you and what you do.
This is not something that’s happening exclusively in actual social situations anymore, it’s now happening in VIRTUAL social situations too. Yep, that’s right, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are just a bunch of people standing around with red party cups, vying for likability like the old days. Everything’s changed, and nothing’s changed.
But the thing is, worrying too much what other people will think, or how they will react, is the direct result of not honoring your own unique way of doing and being in the world, and in business.
But have a look around! There are all kinds of totally odd-ball, left-of-center people in every field, from the arts, to technology, to music and business that have blasted the pants off what everyone said was possible for them because they simply refused to adhere to the status quo. Not to be a rebel, not to make a point, not to be revered or something… but just to be THEMSELVES. Without apology. It wasn’t about screwing the system… it was just about not letting the system screw them. They probably sat around with their party cups vying for likability for a long time too, until they realized it was absolutely suffocating, and decided to fly their freak flag full mast.
But “flying your freak flag” doesn’t have to look like what you picture. It doesn’t have to be loud or colorful, it doesn’t have to be fantastical or Bowie in space… it can just be YOUR VOICE. The things that matter to you, the things that you love and value, and those things can be quiet as a mouse, or as loud as Sam Kinison, but you just have to own it, whatever it is.
There are a great many gifts in introversion, just as their are a great many gifts in extroversion… so whichever one you are, use those gifts towards what you want to create. Grab that virtual red party cup, stand strong in that circle and take a swig… don’t be afraid to share from the heart, digitally or otherwise… wave that little flag, my friend.
Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking that’s ridiculous because in business you NEED people to like you because there’s a ton of competition and you REALLY can’t afford the risk or you’ll be out like a trout… and to that I say, it is precisely BECAUSE of that competition that you can’t afford to just blend in and NOT risk being different, or you’ll be out like a trout.
The risk is there either way… don’t kid yourself. And don’t ask me why you’re a trout in this scenario. But if you ignore your own voice, preferences and passions, the loss will hurt twice as much because it wasn’t at least fun while it lasted. Base your decisions on the quality of life you want NOW, not later, because now’s all you’ve got. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing things that oppose what we really value “for now” so that we can “live the way we want” later.
Live the way you want NOW.
Find those qualities, those unique preferences and passions, and find a way to thread them through everything you do right here and now. It’s a total cliche I know, but later’s don’t come with a guarantee. But if you live those values now, you’re already there. No later necessary. 🙂 It doesn’t matter if you’re sweeping floors or sweeping through stadiums, you can find a way to live the values you love right now.
All this to say… whether you’re on the internet super highway or the regular highway, and whether you’re social or not-so-much… don’t be afraid to have your own voice. No matter the application, there’s room for it. What’s true and right for you, does not have to be true or right for anyone else…
It’s yours. It’s yours for the having.
So let your flag fly my friends.