I have started a job for a company as a promoter – my first job. I wanted to try because I am a university student and the hours were good for me. But I feel like it is not made for me. I am big introvert and I underestimated its impact on my mental health. I used to suffer from social anxiety. It is less now. Today, when I came back from work, I cried and I don’t know why. When I told this to my parents they told me that it was no big deal. But I feel that this is draining me. I’m asking myself if I need to keep the job or quit?
Hi oceanne –
You are not alone, oceanne! So many jobs require people to put out bright excited social energy, while so many people are shy or nervous or, like you, just introverted. There’s nothing wrong with being introverted; as I’m sure you know, that’s just considered a personality type, like extroversion – neither better nor worse. But just as a pup like me would hate a job restricted to a cubicle where I couldn’t run around sniffing and licking people, you’re finding it hard and draining for you to work in promotion while you’d rather curl up with a book!
I do have a story for you though, about my human friend Handsome. He’s always been a friendly guy, but mostly kept to himself (or home with me!). And while he enjoyed socializing, he always had great anxiety about going to parties. You see, he had this great fear of starting conversations with people he didn’t know, as they might not want to talk with him, might prefer to be left alone, might be cold and rejecting to him.
This would present problems in his different jobs, and even more so in his social life, as you can imagine. It reached a peak one night when he was having a birthday party at a restaurant. Some friends picked him up so he could have a few drinks without worrying about his driving, and on the way, while talking with them, he almost fell asleep! Not because he was tired, or because they were boring – he could tell, it was because of his anxiety about being at the party. But all the guests there were friends of his who he liked and had invited, so what was he anxious about?! What in the world was he to do about this?!
Well, right at that time, he was entering a new career, where he would need to market himself to others in the field regularly. And specifically, he knew it would be good for him to go to big meetings every few weeks where he’d have to introduce himself and make himself known. This terrified him! But he also realized, this was his chance to finally beat this problem.
He forced himself to attend every one of these meetings he could. And at each, he’d sit at tables of people he didn’t know, and make sure he talked with each one. He’d stutter, his voice would crack, but he’d do it.
And you can probably guess what happened: first, he found that everyone else there felt just the same, and were glad that he’d “break the ice” by talking with them. But then, over time, he developed a reputation – as the friendly social guy! The one who was at ease talking with everyone, the one lacking in social anxiety!
And one other thing happened. You’ve likely heard of the Myers-Briggs test, a series of questions which determine, among other things, whether one is an introvert or extrovert. Well he’d taken it in the past, and it correctly showed him to be introverted. But after a few years of this work, he was in a situation where he took it again, and this time it put him right in the middle – half-introvert half extrovert. His work to overcome his anxiety had actually changed his personality and the sorts of social occasions he enjoyed!
So, back to you. What I’ve told this long story for, oceanne, is to tell you that it’s your choice! You can live a happy life as an introvert, in which case you probably will want to change jobs pretty soon. Or you can work hard to change how you’re seen, and get more comfortable as a promoter, and maybe even start to enjoy it after a while.
The big question, my friend, is what you’d like to be. Would you like to be able to do more things socially, or would you prefer to stay by yourself more as time goes on?
If you want to change, my advice is to do what Handsome did – grit your teeth and engage in every social event you can. And see what changes come. But if not, if you’re happier with the way you are, just know there’s nothing wrong with that, and you can find all sorts of jobs, and friends, and romantic partners, who fit that perfectly.
You’re fine, oceanne. Choose that future and embrace it!
All my best,