The secret powers of an introvert
I often mention that I’m an introvert and I sometimes get told that I should be careful using that label because people might get the wrong impression (‘don’t mention the ‘i-word!!’). The word ‘introvert’ is often mixed up with ‘shy’, ‘unsociable’ and ‘unfriendly’ and I feel like I need to yell and scream and change this misperception (but since I am an introvert, I’m going to write about it instead).
I often feel like I need to describe myself as a ‘sociable introvert’ or that ‘I love people’ because I’d hate people to think that the opposite might be true, but the truth is that I think being an introvert makes me a better photographer.
I love observing and seeing the tiny differences in a person’s expressions that make them ‘them’. Getting to know people on a deeper level helps me to bring out their true personalities and I really enjoy focusing all of my attention and energy on boosting them. I really do also love spending time with people and consider myself to be very friendly and bubbly. It’s really important that I schedule my sessions well with some space between them though, because putting all of my heart and soul into my work means that I need a chance to recharge afterwards.
This is why I love the combination of my sociable shooting days and the editing and administration days, which give me a chance to recover and get ready for more.
So, are introverts and extroverts so different?
I’ve had some funny reactions when I’ve told people that I’m an introvert (I was surprised it wasn’t obvious, but I guess my bubbly, sociable side can confuse some people). One new acquaintance was worried, as though I’d just told her I had a terrible illness.
While I’ve learned to see the strengths of my ‘introvertedness’, some people still see it as a failure or a problem that needs to be solved.
But the myth of introverts being socially incompetent hermits and extroverts being charming social butterflies just doesn’t reflect reality. At least not if you ask me.
It’s not always black and white: we all exist on a spectrum between introversion and extroversion, manifesting qualities of each depending on the circumstance. If you’ve partied your extroverted self out for the weekend, you might want to spend Monday night completely alone in your pajamas reading a book or watching Netflix. If you find that your co-workers are distracting even though you enjoy being social, you might find it nice to take up some introverted qualities like brainstorming alone. And being an introvert doesn’t mean being a hermit: introverts can often be charming social butterflies in their own quiet way.” (Source)
One common quality of introverts is that we tend to feel more comfortable expressing ourselves in writing than speaking. I think this is one reason why I love social media. It’s given us a voice that we may not have had before.
The problem with social media
There is a problem though. I often hear people complain about how much they hate social media. That they get sick of having to post all the time, that they always need to be positive and get sick of seeing other people posting about their perfect lives. I totally get it!
“Social media can be as draining as a noisy get-together for many introverts. And as introverts can also be highly sensitive, it can feel like a dangerous and exposed place to hang out. But here’s the thing. Introverts can be incredibly confident and interesting to talk to when they have something to say that they care about. They also tend to write better than they speak and be good listeners. These qualities can help introverts to shine on social media.” (Source)
I’ve put together some tips that are based on my strategy for social media (that I think could suit both introverts and extroverts). I hope you find some inspiration here.
My strategy for social media (while staying sane!):
1. Choose your own schedule
We all know about the algorithms and rules about when you should post and how often. But sometimes you just aren’t feeling it. You can try to force it, but it won’t be as effective. Make the most of the time you are feeling inspired and your creative juices are flowing. I have a note in ‘Evernote’ where I write any ideas that pop into my mind (usually when I’m reading a book, listening to a podcast or having a shower). Then when I want an idea for an Instagram post or blog post, I can copy text from there. Scheduling bulk posts in advance also helps a lot (I use ‘Later’ and it works really well for me).
2. Don’t be afraid to take a break
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not particularly strategic, so you might decide to ignore this one. But sometimes I just have to take a break from social media. I know I lose a few followers when I do this, but for me it’s not about the numbers. It’s about connecting with real people, and those that follow me because they enjoy my content aren’t going to be upset if they don’t hear from me for a few days. I’ve noticed that the followers that disappear aren’t genuine followers anyway. They’re just those accounts that follow you and then unfollow once they’ve got their own numbers up. Also, I figure that the chances are greater that people will unfollow me if I just post rubbish content for the sake of sharing something, than if I wait until I can share something worthwhile.
3. Be genuine
Trying to be someone you’re not is going to drain you of your energy and just won’t feel good. Being yourself, being open, empathetic and inspiring others is going to fill you with energy and motivate you to be more active and consistent.
4. Borrow someone else’s words.
There are a lot of inspiring quotes that are easy to find online. If you find something that suits your personal brand, values and your audience, share! I do this regularly anyway because there are so many beautiful, inspiring words that I want to share.
5. Seek out real people and real connections
Social media can feel very superficial at times and I know people complain about the pressure they feel to always look good and pretend that they have these perfect lives. But take it for what it is and ignore the bullshit. Seek out the real people and have real conversations with them. There are amazing people out there doing inspiring work. Comment and give them a boost. Make friends. If you’re close to each other, take it off the screen and meet for coffee. There is so much rubbish online and so many voices out there screaming for our attention, but this is also a place for those of us who don’t run around yelling and screaming to have a voice of our own. We’ve got some good stuff to share and this is a great forum for it.
6. Use your own voice
You decide how personal you want to get. Most introverts I know love going deep and getting personal. Don’t be afraid to be honest and talk about your feelings and vulnerability – if that will help your audience connect. If you are running a business, you do need to think about this and think about whether this will move you in the right direction. You need to maintain some kind of balance. But if done well, I don’t think personal needs to be unprofessional. For a lot of people it can attract the right kind of people and strengthen their personal brand.
7. Boost others
Use social media as a platform for boosting other soulful entrepreneurs. When we boost others, we gain confidence. Our body language oozes strength and our voice gets louder (yes, even when we’re typing!). Find your people and help each other and grow together.
8. Turn off notifications
If your phone is constantly plinging away or you can see notifications popping up on your screen, you can easily get stressed out and overstimulated. Turn off all notifications and schedule specific times to go in and check your social media accounts. Use this time to comment, reply and see what others are up to. Then, put your phone away.