Self Promotion and the Introvert

English: Woman sitting below desk.

Woman sitting below desk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so I’m a bit of a weirdo. I do stuff like blog in public, and yet I call myself an introvert. I’ve also been a worship assistant, a choir director, a singer, and a speaker. I loved doing those things. I’m still an introvert. On one hand, I really want people to read my writing. On the other hand, interacting with people is an activity that drains my energy.  Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy interacting with people. Most of the time it’s fun. But exhausting.

Self promotion, however, that’s another thing. I was raised with a very strong “thou shalt not brag” message programmed into me. I was taught to turn compliments away.

“That’s a lovely dress!”

“Oh, thank you. But it would look much better on you!”

“I love your story!”

“You’re too kind! It’s just a little thing. . .”

. . .and so on and on. It took me years to be able to answer a compliment with a simple “thank you” or “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” I still know people who think I’m an arrogant thingee if I don’t add a disclaimer or if I do show off my work. It’s a struggle, especially since I have to ignore those people who are annoyed by my putting myself out there. They don’t have my best interests at heart. They reactivate those negative childhood lessons that say I should be modest at all times careening around in the back of my head. I can be an intense and fierce supporter of other people. I need to learn how to do that for myself.

Yesterday, I went on a self-promotion death march. I posted repeatedly in different locations. I pm’d a list of people who I thought might be interested or who would at least be sympathetic to my self-promo efforts.  I cringe every time I see a reply to that private message chain, even though they’ve been mostly encouraging.  I’m learning to live with it. I’m learning to be more “out there” for me. It feels scary, and like hard work.

To the people who helped me out with this yesterday, I can’t say enough thank yous.

I’m sure there are other blogging, writing, selling introverts out there. Do you have any advice on how to slay the self-promotion monster?

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13 thoughts on “Self Promotion and the Introvert

  1. I’ve been the same–I don’t mind writing but I’m not the biggest fan of sharing it and getting it out there. I usually worry about what people think though after a childhood of being bullied. In January, I made a New Year’s Resolution to stop worrying about what people think and share the things I have to say. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who like the things too and have supported me. There are a few haters but, like you, I ignore them to stop the original feelings coming back.

    • Alexandria, it always amazes me how many people were bullied as children and young adults. Our society is really sick that way. I think a lot of people who try to hold us back do so out of fear. I try to remember that their actions are about things inside themselves more than they are about me. It’s a struggle to not take things personally, especially when they seem aimed right at you!

    • [Let’s try this again–damn internet keeps cutting out.]
      My experiences in high school (bullying, small town, funny voice), plus my familial background (religious intolerance, child abuse, relative that did everything possible to discourage anyone from succeeding) makes me nothing more than a big pile of broken when it comes time to self-promote (and I am a writer–writers have to talk about what they are doing quite a lot).

  2. T.L. Please don’t take what I am about to say the wrong way… read it through. I believe we are what we tell ourselves we are.. You have convinced yourself you are an introvert, therefore you act that way to support that theory. In turn, you attract like people to you, other introverts. These people will certainly think ill of you trying to toot your own horn because they would never do it themselves. It doesn’t make it wrong. You have started taking a step that is right for YOUR success. Whether you succeed or fail only affects YOU, not them so don’t listen to their negativity. They are not the ones putting in the work. And if you perceive something as a failure it is only a failure FOR NOW. Tomorrow is a mystery. So, you get out there and you give it all you’ve got because you are worth it and you deserve success. Let them sit on the couch and wonder why they can’t be like you.

    Now, I told you to read all the way through because I too felt like this. I could have written the same emotions. I described myself as an introvert for so long because I was told all my life about what a shy child I was. Guess what my passions are? Writing, (and I am an open book as you can tell,) and I am a professional DJ/MC. Go figure. Once we let go of our own personal labels, we step out of our comfort zone and life becomes full of amazement and unexpected, beautiful surprises. Go get ’em girl!!! Check out my post “Advice That Turned A Painfully Shy Girl Into A Confident And Outgoing Woman” on my http://www.PeaceAndHappinessProject.com site. I think you will relate to me as I have to you.

    Missy Bell
    http://www.PeaceAndHappinessProject.com
    http://www.WheretheGhostsLive.WordPress.com

    • Thanks, Missy. I don’t think that all introverts are shy, though of course some are. It’s not about fitting comfortably into a label for me; it’s about acknowledging and honoring the person that I actually am, my real strengths and weaknesses. I greatly appreciate the encouragement to step out of my comfort zone. 🙂

  3. I think there has been some misuse of words here. An introvert is not necessarily a negative label. An Introvert is, by nature, an observer rather than a joiner. All writers must be observers first and the writing itself is a singularly lonely thing. Someone that spends hours locked away with their words is not usually going to be all that happy about getting out around certain types of crowds. As for the modesty vs self promotion, I have the same problem, but remember there is a difference between the natural desire to share an accomplishment with others and braggadocio. I am certainly introverted, but I could care less what most people think of me. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with self-promotion though. You just grit your teeth and do it. Maybe you’ll even find a few new friends along the way.

    • Laura, I’m distressed that you think that I’ve implied that being an introvert is a negative thing. I don’t think that at all. Being an introvert does, however, present different challenges than being an extrovert. I think modesty messages hit some introverts harder than they do most extroverts not because we care so much about what people think about us, but because we are more private people. Modesty feels like being private. Self-promotion is, if not self-aggrandizement, not very private! Alas, modern introvert writers can’t live in cloisters, though we can sometimes hire PR people to help us with the things that don’t come very naturally to us.

  4. Pingback: A Look at My Childhood | Red Maple

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