How To Avoid Slipping Further Into Your Introvert’s Shell
I recently read a post by Ben Taylor on homeworkingclub.com about the benefits and challenges of an introvert working from home. I really appreciated Ben’s candor about his personal struggles with anxiety, and it inspired me to share my own experience.
Before I made the switch to stay at home mom, and later, work from home professional, I had a full time job complete with a sizable commute. While most of my job entailed sitting at my desk in a solitary fashion, often I nervously interacted with representatives from different organizations to get things done. I became used to the apprehensive feeling that buzzed in my chest each day.
To Be an introvert working from home
Now that I do most of my work from home, I don’t feel the pressure to interact everyday, and I don’t have that constant anxious buzzing. The tradeoff is, like Ben touched on in his article, is that I feel anxiety more intensely when I do enter socially uncomfortable positions than I ever did before. This is one of the biggest challenges of an introvert working from home. It’s like the rustiness you feel when you haven’t spoken a foreign language in a really long time, and your tongue becomes twisted just trying to get the words out.
For example, before I started working from home, I used to be a part of videoconferences every Thursday. Although it wasn’t my favorite thing to do, it was tolerable, and eventually fell into the category of routine.
Now that I work from home, the thought of videoconferencing, or even teleconferencing my armpits become sweat producing pits of fury. I’m anxious all day leading up to the call, and then busy dealing with the post adrenaline release the remainder of the day after the call.
With that said, I absolutely prefer working from home. I love the flexibility, which means I can be there for my kids and I have no commute! While I’m constantly working on ways to deal with my anxiety, I have found a few things that help.
Set A Social Interaction Quota
The only way to keep a skill relevant is by practicing it. You’ve most likely developed coping mechanisms to keep yourself functioning in social situations. Now that you’re an introvert working from home, you’ll need to keep practicing those skills regularly.
Find the sweet spot in frequency and type of interaction you’ll need to embrace every week to keep your skills strong and your social anxiety at bay. Whether it be getting together with others for dinner or lunch, joining a discussion group, or just talking to strangers at the grocery store, keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Surround Yourself By Introverts
The easiest way to keep your social skills from getting rusty is to simply surround yourself by introverts. They carry conversation for you, leaving you with no opportunity to get nervous about what to say next. Go places where fun loving extroverts hang out, where social interaction requires little work on your part.
I love hanging out with extroverts so much, I married one. I don’t have to fight internally with my anxiety to just get a sentence out correctly because I”m spending most of my time just trying to keep up with the fast pace of the conversation.
When someone extends an invitation, say yes even when you just want to say no. Saying no is so easy to do, but the more you do it, the further anchored into your comfort zone you may become.
By saying yes you’ll ensure opportunities for pushing yourself into situations where you practice at keeping your anxiety in check. It’s like the allergy you have to combat by exposing yourself little by little to the allergen.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Living with anxiety can be debilitating at times. It can get you down and make you angry and frustrated with yourself. You may feel like you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to connect. Don’t beat yourself up. Every little step you take to combat your anxiety is a step in the right direction. You know that it will never go away. Some days are better than others, and some days are worse. But never give up, and don’t be hard on yourself when anxiety gets the best of you. It gets the best of all of us sometimes.