Oftentimes, I hear people, young persons especially, use this line, “I am an Introvert”, to excuse their inability to communicate or speak publicly. Maybe they expected a standing ovation or pat on the back for being introverts or even an award for being introverts.
You may have also used the same to describe yourself or excuse your inability to interact or communicate effectively. One bitter truth I need you to understand however is that no one cares whether you are an introvert or extrovert, what everyone who cares enough cares about is the level of results you have and your ability to replicate these results.
As a young child growing up in our Church’s Children Department, I always was forced to cram some verses of the scriptures and recite them at our annual children’s harvest. On one of such occasions, I had prepared myself extensively, taking weeks to cram the portion I wanted to recite. But when I climbed up the stage, I couldn’t move past verse three before fright froze the words in my mouth and made a stutter out of me.
That day is a day I will never forget because I went home crying and wouldn’t have any consolation from anyone. When my mum finally managed to put me to sleep, I still woke up at midnight to cry again. While I cried, I asked myself some questions and made up my mind from that time that I will do better next time.
And the next year, I did, and the year after, I also did!
But, soon I transitioned from Children’s Department to Teens class where we had a clique who gloried in non-participation in the Annual Harvest ceremonies. We regarded that as being for Children. Gradually, my stage fright stepped back in like a monster but I continued to hide it with a false “self-esteem”.
While in Secondary School, I developed a cult following, even among teachers that I was seen as someone who “knew all things”, so I wasn’t asked questions and wasn’t asked to do presentations because as most of the teachers would always say “I know you I know it”.
But, in my SS2, like the proverbial cock whose ‘nyash’ is exposed by the wind, I was appointed the Senior Prefect of my school and that was when I knew I had a serious challenge. The day I was announced as Senior Prefect, I delivered a speech which others told me later on what I said. You can imagine!
I will write my beautiful speeches to deliver at the Assembly, only to show up and have them frozen in my mouth by that monster called stage fright. Many ideas and suggestions I developed back then, but they were only implemented in my head!
It was terrible but, only I knew. I had a PhD in covering up my inadequacies. I covered up my weaknesses and dreaded being exposed. I remember when I delivered a very ‘beautiful nonsense’ that my Proprietor was just looking at me with one eye!
This continued till I left office. In fact, I had to develop excuses to give to teachers when I find myself in situations where I was required to make speeches. Immediately after I handed it over, I sat myself down and told myself,
“My friend, if you continue this way you aren’t going anywhere”.
So, I began studying and looking for solutions to my situation. It was then I stumbled upon the concept of Introversion and Extroversion. That gave me peace, at least to understand that nothing was wrong with me after all.
But I told myself I needed to find a way to ensure I am able to speak the way I want, to whatever audience I wanted without being stopped by stage fright.
That was when I read Dale Carnegie’s advice, “You learn to speak by speaking”.So, from that moment, I began looking for opportunities to speak. I will try to say something when I attend meetings even if it didn’t make sense to others.
I fell in love with speaking!
To me, it was a fight. It was a war to stay afloat! To stop giving myself excuses for why I couldn’t get things done.
During my days at the university, I discovered that I had begun to gain a certain level of mastery as I spoke almost every week all throughout my Undergraduate days to an audience sometimes as high as 500 (every week).
I stopped being an “introvert” when I found out that nobody cared whether or not I am an introvert or an extrovert. All they care about is “did I deliver?”
So, my dear friend,
Don’t tell me you are an ‘introvert’.
You are simply one who is shy and lacking in self-esteem and has refused to do something about it.
If you like, continue being an “introvert”.
For me, I used to be one but I have stopped being one.Featured Image Source: Aol.com
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