I’ve had two personality tests in twenty years. The first test was taken in the early 1990s as part of a group training exercise and the results labeled me as an extreme introvert. “Surely not,” my co-workers said, but it was true. I have always had a shy side.
When I was a little girl, I remember feeling backward, shy, and weird. I still recall when my mom dropped me off at Girl Scout camp and how she made me promise that I’d talk to new people and not be shy. She didn’t do it in a critical way, but she encouraged me as a mom trying to help her daughter stretch her wings. Boy, am I grateful now.
Not only did my mom’s encouragement help me make friends at camp, but her efforts to help me out of my shell would continue to help me out of it decades later. Back in the nineties, my co-workers saw me as outgoing. They had no idea that the extroverted me was the product of an encouraging mother and a lot of will power to step into situations that might make people look at me. I was never forced to do anything, but Mom encouraged me to try out for cheerleader, be in a few beauty pageants, march with the band, and be involved in many things that put me in front of other people.
I remember being nervous when I did all those outgoing things. If people looked at me, they would see my flaws, right? So, on one side, I hated it, but on the flip side, I enjoyed the things I did and if I let shyness rule, I wouldn’t get to do any of them. I would just have to let people look at me and if they saw a flaw, then that was their problem.
Sometimes I still have those fears, but thankfully, I am different now. I’ve heard people say that no matter what you do, you will always be what you are (introverted or extroverted) inside. Perhaps that is true, but according to my latest personality test, my extroverted side is now at least equal to my introverted side. I will always be an introvert inside, but I don’t let it keep me cowering.
Since becoming a published author and a community volunteer, I have had to step up and teach at conferences, speak on radio and television, and give speeches and interviews about my work and the work of organizations I represent. I have finally come around to believing that God isn’t going to let me hide away just because I am an introvert inside. My mom’s instincts were right and her efforts to bring me out of my shell have been a lifesaver. I have little doubt that had she not pushed me “out there” when I was a kid, I would be hiding down in the basement with my books and pen.
No longer do I let insecurity or shyness rule my decisions. I may not stand up on the stage and say, “Look at me!”, but I try my best not to miss out on opportunities because of my introverted side. Of course, there is nothing wrong with hiding away for a little while with my books and a pen. I nurture the introvert in me, as well. Otherwise, I might never finish another novel.
What about you? What stops you, if anything, from being all you can be?