Forced to be an Extrovert

On any given day I see all kinds of articles about being an extrovert/introvert.  Most of them speak to the difficulties and misunderstandings that come along with being an introvert.  Upon meeting me, most people would characterize me as an extrovert.  I thrive in social settings.  I make friends easily.  I was in outside sales for a pretty good chunk of my career.  I’m passionate about getting to know people and sharing my personal story.  I love having all eyes on me.

I don’t think I was born an extrovert.  I think I was born and perhaps conditioned to be an introvert.  Every step I’ve taken towards being an extrovert has been calculated and has come with truly powering through a gauntlet of personal doubt, inadequate feelings, and insecurities.  Naturally I don’t hold my head high and command attention.  It’s quite the opposite.  I want to run and hide and just observe like a good little introvert.

I guess the transformation began in high school and has continued through my life since then.  We all have those teachers/coaches that change our lives.  I’ve had so many and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for their encouragement to uncover who I am.  It’s like I focused so hard on school because the pep talks and recognition wasn’t coming from my home life.  I could succeed academically and in the sports and clubs I was a part of in high school.

I had two phenomenal volleyball coaches, Mr. John Basile and Mr. Michael Seaman.  Mr. Seaman was also my 9th grade English teacher.  He was a huge part of my life during my 4 years at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, PA.  I took away so many pearls of wisdom from him but there is one instance that always sticks out in my mind.  I believe I was walking down the hall by his classroom one day and I was walking like I always walked.  I had my head down, looking at the ground.  I never realized this was the norm.  But he called me out on it.  I don’t remember his exact words but he essentially told me to stop looking down because I had so much going for me and so much to look forward to in life.  BOOM!  Stopped me right in my tracks.  I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anything like that before.  It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget because it impacted my life exponentially.  I started believing in myself and my desire to succeed.  I could stop carrying the cross of outside influences and start acting with pride because I had so many successes and accomplishments.

High school also came with so many opportunities to lead.  I was captain of the volleyball team, captain of the Hi-Q (quiz bowl) team, some designation in the honor society, and a member of the newspaper, yearbook, Shakespeare Troop, Literary Magazine, etc.  If it was a thing, I was a member.  It afforded me opportunities to be in the spotlight.  It was incredibly uncomfortable in so many ways but in EVERY way possible, these opportunities were giving me an outlet to express who I wanted to be (deep down, who I already was).

Fast-forward to college… I found myself in the same types of situations.  I wasn’t confident but I kept throwing myself into tasks and roles that would allow me to develop into a confident and outspoken young lady.  I joined a sorority and became their Recruitment Chair for 2 years.  I had to lead events and essentially speak on behalf of our sorority.  I presented papers at out-of-state conferences.  I joined so many organizations and my schedule was packed to the gills.  I pushed myself into the spotlight.  I remember doubting myself every step of the way.  All of it was uncomfortable. Everyone around me always knew I could do it.  I’ve had so many amazing people in my life who insisted on pushing me.  I’m eternally grateful.

My outside sales job for Henry Schein, Inc. was probably the most grueling job for me as a (what I believe) natural introvert.  Day after day I would call on dental offices.  I would try to build rapport and get them to buy something (anything!) from me.  I was out of me element.  And to boot, I had so much windshield time because I was covering a territory so that just gave me more time to process self-doubt.  It was brutal, but I did it.  I was successful but god was it gut-wrenching at times.  I went on and took three “sales jobs” after that.  I was always pitching something to someone and trying to develop deep connections.  I got pretty good at it, but it always felt like it took so much focus and energy to do it.  But I got comfortable in my skin and confident in my messaging.

And today, I feel the same way.  What brought this all on was working one of the Accepted Students Days for WCU.  Before I moved onto being the Community Manager for The Village and East Village Apartment for USH at West Chester University I started in their Leasing Department.  There was more selling when I was on the leasing side of the operations.  I miss it at times.  But as I was working the Accepted Students Day yesterday I could feel how much I miss making that connection with people and the challenge of getting them to realize what you wanted them to realize.  I felt social yesterday.  I felt like a true extrovert.  I didn’t mind it.  It felt great to wear that hat again.  When I’m in that role now I only feel a surge of energy and a nudge to deliver.

Maybe I’m a born extrovert after all.

 

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