For a long time (read: all my life), I didn’t understand why I felt overwhelmed, socially awkward, and overlooked at school, with dudes, and in my career.
I didn’t get it.
I put my head down, I worked my little bum off, I was smart and easy to get along with, praised for being good at what I did.
But nothing ever felt right.
The climax of this was when I decided I wanted to work in TV. Oh how I struggled for YEARS trying to work my way up that ladder.
Think long days, surrounded by people, getting calls at 6am, being at work til 11, making phone calls in an open plan office to talk to people about their personal lives (awkward), Friday drinks, where drinking at least eased the pain of not really fitting in with any of my colleagues. Sometimes I’d hide out in the bathroom or volunteer for undesirable tasks just to escape for a few moments of alone-time.
Oh, and the noise, urgency, and hustle and bustle of the TV world meant that I had to be ‘on’ all the time to stop people asking ‘What’s wrong?’ or suggesting I was in a bad mood that day.
I’d get home totally wrecked. I’d be cranky and totally unfulfilled, no matter what show I worked on or what (small) promotion I got.
I was drained, unhappy, and I felt like a round peg trying desperately to fit into a square hole.
I remember – after the 6am phone call where a cranky production coordinator woke me up to yell at me for no reason – the frustration I felt when my boyfriend asked me if this was really the career I wanted.
I was so pissed. “You don’t understand, this is the job”. And also a thought I didn’t voice out loud, a deep down thought that was desperate to be heard:
“Nothing can stop me from doing what I want to do.”
Cut to a few months later when I asked an executive producer I’d worked with closely for almost a whole year, I asked her for a recommendation for an associate producer role and her reply?
“I just don’t think that job will suit your personality.”
It was like a slap in the face. At the time, I was so confused. She constantly told me what a good job I did, she encouraged and praised me, she knew I was hard working, smart, and friendly, why would she say something like that?
But, it turns out, it was a huge favour.
Because, once I became a coach and started my own online business, I realised that career never made me feel like the best version of me.
It rarely accommodated my biggest strengths.
It made me feel inferior and exhausted most of the time.
When I finally ditched that dream and followed a different path, I realised how long I’d been fighting against my natural instincts, my in-built skills and abilities, the nature of who I was.
In short, my business is unique to me. I run it in a way that lights me up, works to my strengths, and suits my introverted personality (meaning, if I want to take a Netflix and couch, comfy clothes day, where I don’t talk to anyone, I absolutely can).
The best thing though?
No one has ever told me that I can’t do what I do because of my personality.
In fact, starting my own business and finding a way to shine in my own way has been the complete opposite. I’ve found success and fulfilment that never – in my wildest dreams – did I think was possible for me.
What I’ve realised is that the modern workplace boasts an open plan, meetings-a-plenty, team building, coworking, lunch sharing environment.
And, for introverts, that kinda sucks.
Now, more than ever, we have so many options and what’s really exciting is that we can create careers for ourselves that turn our backs on the ‘extravert ideal’ and find ways to play to our strengths, work remotely, and create a schedule that has space for as much alone, thinking time as we need.
I left my career pretty quickly and have gone on to creating some really wonderful success in my business in a very short amount of time. But I was starting to struggle again with working hard (and not being seen), trying to work on my weaknesses and, once again, looking up to the extraverted ‘stars’ in my industry.
In the thick of an overthinking panic attack that I’d become well accustomed to over the years, it hit me:
I’m an introvert and I need to stop trying to do what ‘everyone else’ is doing because their strengths, personality traits, and natural way of communicating, processing and being in the world are not the same as mine. I’m all about embracing quite, having deep conversations, and connecting with 5 people, not 500, and my business should be a reflection of this.
I embraced my introversion and started playing to my strengths, changing up my business and really owning that side of myself, everything changed for me. My message became clearer and the people I really wanted to work with started finding me, I realised I could do things my own way and my business doubled almost instantly.
These realisations became the basis of my new program, The Introvert Effect, where I guide introverted leaders to better understand their introverted self, create a business that plays to their strengths, and develop a message that cuts through the noise to reach the people who most need to hear it (without having to scream from the rooftops).
It’s become so important to me to help others – not follow a magic formula or a done-for-you plan – but to develop your leadership skills and find what it is that works for YOU. Because, it would seem, that one size doesn’t fit all. But most people will happily follow the crowd and – ultimately – find themselves somewhere that doesn’t really work for them.
Maybe you want to ditch your ‘dream job’ that’s burning you out and start creating the business you’ve been thinking about for so long, the right way.
Maybe you’ve been thinking and dreaming, plotting and planning. Or maybe you’ve already put the wheels in motion – but you’re still following a career dream or business model that isn’t right for your introverted traits.
Maybe you’ve done a bunch of courses but none of what they teach has worked for you – because YOU haven’t been factored into the systems and strategies within them.
There is no container that we all fit in.
We need to be discerning with the information that comes our way and to trial everything until we find our own special way.
But we’re all so used to following fads and trends and ‘what everyone else is doing’, it can be difficult to trust our own instincts.
If you’re ready to step up as an introverted leader, find out more about The Introvert Effect here – and see how your quiet brilliance can impact the world in a way that works for you.
And, if it’s not for you, that’s cool too! Keep searching, tweaking, implementing, trying new things, and chipping away at what it is you do and how you want to make your mark.
Please share this with someone you know who might need to read it right now and if you want to get the details about The Introvert Effect, read more here (early bird special is on until the 30th of June!)