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Are you an introvert?

If you’re not sure, check out these 24 signs you’re an introvert. Life as an introvert can be isolating if you don’t get out of your head sometimes. I often look at my husband and how he easily navigates social waters and oozes confidence and I wish I could try on his skin. Man, what might that be like to know, really know how good you are? Call it confidence or cockiness it’s really the same principle. When you know what you want and believe you deserve it, you often get it.

The Answer Is A., No B., No, Definitely A.

I think the biggest thing that plagues the introvert is self-doubt. We SUCK at multiple-choice tests. We agonize over every decision and conversation and we replay the negative highlight reel till we’re convinced we should just crawl under a rock somewhere which is why being social is a concerted effort that sometimes leaves us completely drained. So if we’re hiding in our room watching Netflix, don’t take offense.

It took an ah ha moment today to make me realize that my step father’s words to me years ago were true. He told me, “you’ll get everything you want in life.” When I look back at my life thus far, I can recall making life changes happen by going after what I want, which is no easy task for an introvert.

Sounds Easy, Right?

Here’s the hardest first step because it sounds like an easy question.

Step 1: Answer this: What is it that’s going to make me happy? – The answer will likely change during different seasons of your life, but step one is to figure out that answer. If you tell me the answer is win the Powerball you know I’m going to roll my eyes.

What do you love and value so much you would sacrifice for it, that you would do it for free, and that you would move Heaven and Earth to make happen? That’s the answer you need to find.

When I was still on maternity leave with my first daughter, I felt so horrible about going back to work full time that I cried for weeks. I had to figure out what I needed to make myself happy. Back then, it was working part-time. I had to do a whole lot of work, a whole lot of asking and a whole lot of hustling to make it happen. I don’t think anyone was more shocked than me when all my efforts came together and I successfully worked in a job share I negotiated.

Step 2: Overcome The Fear of The Ask – Most of us will never get what we want not because we don’t deserve it, but because we’re too afraid to ask for it. Asking for things is the introvert’s worst nightmare.

My first job after college was doing marketing and special events for a local non-profit and I got thrust into the nightmare of asking for donations pretty quickly. I’d white knuckle the phone, start to sweat and have to take several sips of water before I could muster up the nerve. I’ve asked for financial donations, in-kind donations of goods or services and even had to sell raffle tickets outside grocery stores.

After years you’d think it would become second nature.  For an introvert like me, perpetually worried about “bugging” people, it never did. You just learn to do it anyway.

There will be times you hear “yes” and times you hear “no,” but if you never ask for what you want the answer is ALWAYS “no.” So your odds increase by 50 percent just by biting the bullet and asking. If you sit around waiting to be comfortable, worrying about the rejections, you’ll never hear “yes.” When you do hear “yes” hold tight to it. You’ll need reminders of the wins the next time you have to ask.

Step 3: Research First– Working in a non-profit you always check a person’s giving history before making an ask. In real life you also have to do your homework first. When I hatched the idea of splitting my full-time job into two part-time positions I first had to research job share proposals, and weigh the pros and cons for my family, myself, and my employer. I had to crunch numbers, create a written proposal, and be prepared to answer everyone’s questions of “what’s in it for me?” Whether you’re asking for a raise at work, contemplating staying home with your kids, or starting a business you have to think about all parties involved and then put yourself in their shoes.

Let me tell you that after pitching my mother on the idea of watching my kids while I work, my husband on the idea of a pay cut, my boss on the idea of hiring a new employee and restructuring my position, my husband was the hardest one to sell. He was the one who really wanted to see the numbers. The things you want will often require the cooperation of people in your life. The key is NOT to expect it, but to ask for it and be grateful when you get it.

Step 4: Make Sacrifices – If you can’t or won’t make sacrifices to attain what you need to be happy, you won’t get it. Choices always have consequences. There is always a price to be paid. If you want to start a business you’re going to have to put in some serious time and perhaps sacrifice time spent on hobbies, with family or friends. If you want to stay home with your kids, you might have to make financial sacrifices and give up some luxuries you enjoyed while working even if you didn’t consider them luxuries at the time (hello over-priced coffee addicts, I’m talking to you). If the sacrifices make you so miserable you want to give up then you probably need to go back to step one and answer the question again.

Step 5: Kick Self-Doubt’s Butt – Self-doubt plagues the introvert to no-end. You could be convinced one minute that you’ve created a masterpiece and when it comes time to share it with the world you find yourself sweaty and panicking. This is one of the hardest things to live with. The introvert is always worried if they are good enough (Ok, that could just be me). We lack the confidence extroverts so easily display. Hence we often wish we could borrow their skin and pretend for a little while we know we are masters of the universe. Sometimes you have to fake confidence.

Think Detours, Not Dead-Ends

Other times you just have to surround yourself with people willing to tell you how awesome you are. When an introvert is defeated, it’s usually in our own minds. Nobody knows themselves the way introverts do. We spend so much time analyzing ourselves. This unfortunately means that we know our flaws better than anyone and it’s easier to get fixated on our flaws instead of our many positive attributes.

Remind yourself daily that you CAN do what it takes to make you happy. Failures and “no’s” are not dead-ends; they’re detours. When you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, simply go back to step number 1 and ask yourself in light of the new situation, what’s it going to take to make me happy?

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found blogging at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine and when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her otherwise three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow me on Facebook or Twitter for my delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails.

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