Embracing my inner wall-flower.

By raise of hand…
Have you ever been in a crowded place and pulled out your cell phone, not because you had anything specific to look at, but because you felt slightly insecure?

This weekend was the first time in my blogging career that I didn’t have a breastfeeding baby or a little man too young to leave at home so that I could attend a blogging conference.  For three days I lived in blog land complete with the passing around of the most unique business cards you’ve ever seen, networking with big wig companies and learning all about the do’s and don’ts of blogging.  SNAP did not disappoint.  While I gained quite an education in blogging I also came away having done a bit of self introspection.

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SNAP welcomed over 500 bloggers, 99% of whom were women and I knew only a handful of them.  Walking through the lobby, I navigated my way through brightly coordinated outfits, perfectly accessorized with cutsie jewelry, a sea of selfies and hysterical laughing.  On several occasion, bloggers would spot each other from across the room, squeal with delight, then sprint to each other and embrace as if having been separated by a long war.  Although I made a lot of really great connections with old and new friends, I’ll admit I felt a bit on the outskirts of this mega reunion.

Numerous times I found myself needing some quiet time from the chatter and social festivities.
Numerous times my polite smile face needed a break.
Numerous times I just wanted to sit in front of that Little America, 700 degree fire place and just veg.

Maybe I was just so exhausted from being a mommy that the time away translated to vacay time?  My point is, I found that as much as I wanted to, it was really hard to just sit and “be” amongst a group.  In the business world the personality traits that are praised and rewarded are, “outgoing,  people person,  team player, assertive.”  But what about those who are quietly productive and driven? I felt like I had to either be socializing and if I wasn’t, I found myself picking up my phone pretending like I was attending to important business.  I noticed I wasn’t alone.  Several other ladies that had decided to cop a squat were all looking down at their phones busily scrolling and tapping away. Maybe they really did have important business?   Throughout the conference I didn’t ever see one blogger solitary (without company of another person, or electronic device).

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Speaking for myself, I certainly didn’t have the amount of important work that caused me to be on my phone as much as I was.  When I finally tuned in to what I was doing I realized I was using my phone as a social insecurity crutch.
Tell me I’m not the only one who has done this?

Have we become so connected that we are fearful of being alone with ourselves?

This past weekend there was nothing I HAD to do except be with myself.  It was interesting to step out of myself and observe my own behavior sans child hanging on my leg or attending to a sink full of dishes.  After having acknowledged my bad phone crutch habit I have to accept that by nature I’m shy, slightly intimated in large social situations and being an observer and that’s okay.  It’s not that I don’t have a loud, opinionated voice but by nature it takes me a second to warm it up.  At what point in time did these traits harbor inferiority?

All the quiet ladies, all the quiet ladies…put yo hands up…

Comments

  1. I know exactly how you feel, this happens to me all the time (well I don’t go to blog conferences but still).

  2. I feel the same way in large crowds when I don’t know anyone (and some that I do) so you are in no way alone, wrong, or strange for fake-iphoning and not wanting to socialize the whole time! There have been many breaks during conferences and meetings where everyone gets up and socializes and I am too scared to so I sit alone and tend to my fake important business. Been like this for years and it’s not going to change, that’s just how it is for shy people, nothing wrong with it in my book! Sounds like a cool conference though!

    • I love it. There’s so much pressure to be outgoing and for many of us…that’s just not our idea of a picnic. I love that you know that about yourself and own it. Inspiring. Thanks Emily.

  3. I’m with you and I have both hands up!!!

  4. Dear Michelle,
    I’m right there with you! The need to look the perfect professional uber-person on the outside has reached new heights in our hyper-critical, there-are-cameras-everywhere world. I tend to hyper-ventilate in front of crowds, and I have to get up in front of people on a fairly regular basis, (its part of what I do in life). One of the things I like most about your blog is that you are so very real about your triumphs and your mistakes. You encourage me. Thank you!

    Perhaps at the next convention you might bring some handwork, if you do that sort of thing, or just hold a notebook and pencil. Sometimes the old fashioned things work best. Whatever you do, you are wonderful and blessed and most definitely not the only one who felt that way at the meeting!

    Blessings,
    Donya

  5. I’m not a blogger, but I totally understand the feeling. I carry my phone in my hand while I push the shopping cart around the grocery store in case I see someone I don’t really want to visit with. It has come in handy on multiple occasions. Dumb, I know. Your blog rocks.

  6. Being an introvert myself, it’s taken me awhile to accept that our society favors extroversion much more than introversion. Now that I understand a bit more about myself and why I am the way I am, I feel more okay about it. In fact, one of the reasons I started blogging was because it was a way for me to share, teach, and communicate in a “behind-the-scenes” manner. Kudos to you for attending the conference and stepping out of your comfort zone, and how great that you learned a bit about yourself along the way!

  7. My latest library find is: “How to get people to like you in 90 seconds.” I have been thinking of how I can use this in my life of feeling insecure and lonely in crowds….even at church. You are not alone in how you experienced that crowd. Love you!

  8. Long-time lurker, first time commenter here…and YES, totally with you on this one! I learned so much from the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain; it’s a must-read, it was SO validating! I find that when I’m starting to feel exhausted by socializing, I need to “re-charge” my batteries…(totally an introvert thing, apparently!)…and have a few minutes of alone-time. If that’s not possible, then I try to engage in a meaningful, connecting conversation with someone (ie. not just small-talk), and that seems to work, too. You are SO not alone on this one!

  9. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for your post!
    I have often felt as you described in this post. In the past I would criticize myself for not being outgoing enough but in the last few years I have accepted myself–all of myself. I read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book changed my life and how I view others, my children, and especially myself. I now embrace my quiet, reserved, shy side completely!
    http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-book/

  10. Dee in BC says:

    I’m not a blogger but I do know how you feel. I greatly prefer online study for accreditation over attending a real life conference or seminar. ( especially the introduce & talk about yourself & give your opinion time- Yes- I have an opinion But I really don’t always need to share it. Can’t we just cover the course material ?) I don’t even like the” large group full of fake cheer/ popularity contest ” feeling at my company’s Christmas party. I’m now hesitant to even go to community events solo after a rude individual I know stated ” loners are losers without friends” I just always figured my interests are not necessarily my spouse’s, kid’s or friend’s interests. I thought I was fine to go do those personal interest things on my own instead of dragging people along to something they have no interest in. I’ve always though that people who walk around with their phones permanently on are inconsiderate ( please don’t ask me to hang on while you take this call & chatter about your weekend plans), downright rude when this happens at work ( I have more work than I likely can accomplish on my plate today & zero time to stand & watch you text- Come back when you are available & I will give you my undivided attention, too) and sort of dangerous after a woman who had her eyes in her phone ran into me with her shopping cart at the grocery store.

  11. Thanks for sharing and for your honesty! I feel the same way so many times, glad I’m not alone :)

  12. i get it!!! I am a wife, mom, work full time outside the home, regular churchgoer, etc. I often feel outside the circle but don’t really want to be inside the circle. I would enjoy going to a conference or class to learn but what’s wrong with pulling out a book and reading instead of always talking–whether it be face to face or text or email. I don’t understand the need to be “on” all the time. I just find some of that exhausting.

  13. Hand up. Waving in the air. I am definitely an introvert even though I try my darndest to be outgoing and happy go lucky and pretend that I’m a social butterfly. Sometimes I can pull it off, many times I can’t. You are absolutely right about shy traits being viewed as “inferior.” It just seems so amplified now with the twitterinstatumblrfacegram world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for all of the ways we can connect…(I never would have found your wonderful corner of the world), but it’s almost like there’s a push for over-extrovertedness. Clearly I’m just making up words now. Bottom line, I get it and there’s a place for all of us. Thanks for being YOU!
    (Also definitely going to read the book a couple of commenters mentioned)

    • So true, so true. There’s an E card I have pinned to my “Funnies” account that says, “May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.” Everyone looks completely extroverted and that sums up the social media effect. Thanks for your comment Kate!

  14. A lot of what I wanted to share has already been touched on and shared better than I could – but I do want to point out that I don’t see a problem with being introverted – ESPECIALLY in social media (how weird is that??!!). I think that’s why pinterest, instagram, twitter, and blogging calls to so many people. We can sit in the comfort of our own homes and have conversations. We can stop when we want, and go back when we have time or have something new to say. And we can plan out our words without having to spew them out on command in front of an audience of people we aren’t familiar with (YIKES!).

    It isn’t like you are a recluse, you obviously have a home/family life, friends, and a community you share your time and social energies with. If you attend a conference that freaks you out a little, so you use a crutch! Big deal! At least you had the courage to attend!

    Thanks for sharing, it’s always nice to hear I’m not the only one :)

  15. *Hands are up!* I do this a lot when riding in elevators. I’m shy by nature and not so good at small talk (even on-line–I suck on “chat”), so it can be tiring to be social. Often, I’d just as soon avoid it. Smart phones have made this much easier to do!

  16. This post just made me love your site even more than I already did. Seeing you on your Studio 5 clips you would never know that you felt like this. I have three sisters and a few nieces my age and we are all introverts, but when we get together we can all laugh at our funny social anxiety moments we have and dare I say makes us pretty awesome. It feels so great to know that you are not the only one that feels that way. So many of us do. I still have young kids, but I have noticed that as I have got older I have been able to accept who I am and love it. Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul…

  17. Hands up over here!

  18. I can totally relate! I was in Nashville in January for The Special Event – not by choice but because I had to work the wedding event. I am super shy and big socializing events drain every ounce of energy I have. Every. Last. Ounce. I made a goal that was attainable for me the last two days I was there, which was to meet 2 new people a day. Doesn’t sound like much to some, but at the end of the day I felt proud of myself for reaching a goal instead of feeling disappointed over my awkward social experience. It was an extremely long week and I couldn’t wait to get home to have ‘me time, me space’. It’s tough for us shy folks!

    • I love the idea of having a goal. Networking is such a big draw at events like this and it would be a shame to miss out just because we may feel awkward. Love it. Going to adopt your technique next time around. Thanks Amy!

  19. Lorinda Turley says:

    It is refreshing to have a meaningful “social connection” by reading a heartfelt post. There is power in what you do and I am blessed to share in it. Thank you.

  20. After about 7 years of blogging just for fun, I have finally decided to take it a little more seriously. I keep telling myself to sign up for a conference this year, but am just like you with crowds! I am actually outgoing once I know someone, but in large crowds of unfamiliar people I get totally quiet. Thanks for this!

  21. I’m an introvert and I don’t think I would enjoy a blogging conference. Thats way out of my comfort zone. I might be okay with it if I went with another friend who was also an introvert and we only socialized with each other… but then thats kind of defeating the purpose of a blogger conference.

  22. I can also relate. I am definitely shy around groups of people that I don’t know, I have a hard time starting new conversations with people and new friendships. I let other people come to me. Of course once I know someone I’m outgoing. My husband took our 3 sons on a fishing trip this past weekend and I had the best time being by myself! My friends said that I should have called but since having kids I get virtually no alone time and it was heavenly! You are definitely not alone!

  23. Total introvert here! On the inside I’m jumping up and down screaming “oh yeah, sister that’s me!!!” but on the outside I’m just a quiet head nodder. I think it’s because I’m an only child and was raised solely by my mom. I never did any team sports in school either and was encouraged not to because “we don’t like sports in our house” I can hear my 8 year old voice mimicking. I think a lot of it is environment. I have issues with my shyness at the 3-4 weekly soccer things I have to participate in for my daughter’s team. She’s also an only child but I enrolled her in every team sport I could shove her at – not for the the athletic ability but to help her social self flourish. With my recent career change I have to attend industry meetings. My boss is very outgoing and knows EVERYONE and even their names (gasp!). He recently “suggested” I sign up for a secretary position in an industry group. I hope that forcing feeding my extrovert and kicking her arse out the door for a paycheck will overflow into my personal life. Honestly, had I known what this position would entail I probably would have been too afraid to do it. I’m glad I did, but it has really been a challenge on a psychological level.

    • Hey Brooke, That’s me too…only child raised by one parent at a time. I know it’s partly environmental but my dad is quiet and reserved as well. I’m a total chip off the old block. Hope you do well at your new position. If anything it will be a real learning experience! Best, Michelle

  24. Great post, love your honesty. I didn’t go this year, went last time & am planning on going next year. So sad I missed it. I feel the same way a lot of the time & would have loved to talk to you & we should totally plan on meeting next year.

  25. First of all, I loved meeting you! You have such a calm, wise presence and I loved getting to know you a little better. I also think HD should hire you for marketing and working with bloggers Second, I can completely relate! I wasn’t there the whole time, but when I wasn’t talking to someone and all of a sudden by myself I felt the need to be doing SOMETHING , I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. So I went and helped put covers on the chairs for the banquet that night!

    • Hey Melissa, it was SO great to meet you as well. After meeting you I thought…”she is my kind of gal”. In fact, you came and introduced yourself while I was doing my “busy on my phone thing” :). Isn’t it so funny that we highly capable, confident women have this funny little insecurity thing about us? Glad you can relate. Hope you are hanging in there during your home construction phase. It will be worth it in the end, I promise! :) Michelle

  26. DAAA! We all feel that way…Why do you think cocktails are so popular? Inhibited masses can pour booze into themselves, lose their inhibitions and make fools out of themselves…You young’ns have replaced booze with smartphones, with about the same effect.
    The way I see it, after all these years, if I need booze to make me interesting, I must be a pretty dull person. And if I need a cell phone to make me smart, I must be a pretty dumb person…There you have it from an old guy

  27. Oh my goodness and you probably just loved how I mauled you at registration and had to get a picture with you, lol! Snap is a love/hate relationship for everything you described. This is my third year and I still feel out of place in some regards. Though each year gets better….especially for this non-blogger, lol! Just know that meeting you was a major highlight and I’m wishing I could have hung by the fire with you!!!!

    • Oh my goodness…you are too funny. I loved that you came up to me…who doesn’t love a little gushing?! It was so great to meet you! I don’t think anyone every feels completely comfortable in new situations. Makes us human. But it’s definitely a conversation worth shedding some light on. Thanks again Holly for putting me at ease right off the bat when I got there! :) Michelle

  28. Mary C Stock says:

    Michelle,
    Loved the way you expressed I the way I act and feel in crowds…my current challenge is being Relief Society President, where everyone “expects” you to gush and chat. It’s not that I’m an introvert, but I have always been a sit back and listen to what others are saying kind of gal. However, I also can’t stand to see someone sit by themselves so I will make the effort to sit with them and HOPE they can carry the conversation. ( People usually like to talk about themselves- so I’m happy to let them do it). Thanks for sharing your gifts with so many of us- I’m going to be making the cement planters for an event I have coming up. Great idea!!! xxoo

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