This weekend I was at a family wedding. Not my own family, my partner’s. While I have met many of them, because they are such a large family, I am still meeting new ones at every family event I go too. It’s great, since my partner loves all his family and they are all fantastic people. But it’s not so great because I am quite the introvert and feel awkward in large crowd. Yep, it was a fun weekend!
Being an introvert is nothing new for me. I am pretty sure I’ve been this way most of my life, even if I wasn’t willing to admit it. I love going out with 2-3 people for dinner and drinks over going to a party with 20. I would rather work 1-on-1 with a client or with a small class then in front of a large 30 people fitness group. And that’s me! Life doesn’t always deal you an easy hand though, so here I am making small talk with a ton of people that I am still trying to remember their names and relations too.
While this weekend can be uncomfortable at times, there are two pieces of advice that I have been given in my adult years that actually have helped me immensely during weekends like this. The first piece was from my personal training practicum mentor in university. After being my supervisor for 4 months, I had my final evaluation with her. Everything had gone well and overall I had impressed her enough to pass my practicum, but she said that I could use a little work on my presence in front of clients. She told me, “Find your inner extrovert.” I was a bit puzzled because I knew I could be quiet but thought I had spoken up well when I was teaching. I left feeling slightly confused, but a couple years on, I think I fully understand what she meant.
“Find your inner extrovert” means to find whatever part of you that likes to speak, who is great at being enthusiastic, who enjoys having attention on them, who wants to make small talk with people, and pulling them forward for a small length of time. It could be for a speech, a social gathering, or teaching a class. It’s being okay with having all eyes on you and knowing you have the skills to deliver a steelier performance. I find this is a great strategy for a short event, such as dinners, fitness classes or volunteering at events. I push away my fears, channel the most happy go lucky fitness professional I can think of (Cassey Ho is a current favourite of mine before large group classes), put on a brave smile and fake the extrovert till I make it! Because I can do and I will do it! Even if it scares the sh*t out of me.
The second piece of advice is something that I have heard from multiple sources, especially recently. While I can never seem to remember the words quite right, it always seems to be a mix between “Do what makes you happy” and “Be yourself in every situation”. I try and stay, make small talk, but it got to the point one night this wedding weekend that I just was feeling completely out of my element and awkward so I just left. (I had spent the whole day meeting and mixing with all the family and friends, so I didn’t feel I was being rude.) It can be hard to put your own happiness above perceived social dictations, but honestly, getting away from it all really helps me. I feel happier, I am less stressed, and I don’t need to worry as much about what others think. Because I would rather be thought of as the one who always goes to bed early, then the one who is really awkward to talk to.
Being introverted is just who I am. I love the extroverts I know, and some days I wish I were more like them. Other days, I am more content curling up with a cup of tea, a great mystery book, and getting lost in a case and trying to decide if the butler did it, regardless if there is a butler in the story. The advice is there if I need to make it through another wedding weekend, and I am sure I can find a good table to people watch at some point.