Coincidence abounds! I find it endlessly fascinating that some of the topics I am thinking about get manifested in sources that couldn’t possibly have read what I posted, emailed, or cogitated through. Maybe that in itself is a lesson in how small the world really is and how alike we are in so many ways. Maybe its one more tentative step to proving how much we really share and that we are not as alone as we might occasionally be tempted to think……
I awoke this morning to find a message responding to the post I had recently written on how shy I naturally am but still advocating for the benefits of putting oneself out there and getting in touch with people who have interesting things to say or whom you respect and resonate with. I believe in these things quite strongly these days, so I wrote back and offered what encouragement I could. A few minutes later I was checking my blog roll and up popped a post from the fabulous Susan Cain on precisely this issue. What a coincidence! No wonder people sometimes feel the Universe conspires…..
Here’s some of what Susan had to say, follow the link to the rest of her post:
How to Overcome the Fear of ‘Putting Yourself Out There’
Author: Susan Cain
In honor of Arianna Huffington’s marvelous book THRIVE, I want to write about a very specific aspect of well-being: freedom from fear of sharing one’s ideas.
In researching my book, QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I met a scientist performing groundbreaking work on social anxiety disorder. A charming, articulate man, he confided that his interest in the field came from his own struggles with shyness. But he asked me not to use his name in my book. “Not everyone is as comfortable as you are exposing their true feelings,” he said.
To which I could only say “ha.”
I am not a natural self-discloser at all. It took me thirty years to realize my childhood dream of becoming a writer, partly because I was afraid to write about personal things — yet these were the subjects I was drawn to.
Eventually my drive to write grew stronger than my fear, and I’ve never looked back. I still envy friends who write about topics like science or politics. They can show up at dinner parties without everyone announcing: “Here comes the introvert!”
But you get used to it. And really, it’s a small price to pay for the freedom to say what you think.
I tell you all this because I hear often from people who burst with ideas but decline to share them, because they dislike the spotlight. Maybe you fear others judging you and your work. Or you’re uncomfortable with self-promotion. Or perhaps you’re afraid of failure, or of success.
So many fears, so many ideas worth sharing. What to do? Here are eight ideas to help you power through these disabling emotions.
1. Know that you’re in good company. People have always had to put themselves out there. We tend to think that in the good old days, no one had to self-promote the way we do today. True; but if they wanted to share, or lead, or create, they had to go public with their thoughts, too. And this has always been scary. Darwin waited THIRTY-FOUR years to publish his idea that humans evolved from monkeys. Scholars call this “Darwin’s Delay,” and many believe it was due to his fear of how others would judge his heretical theory.
2. When it comes to social media, think self-expression, not self-promotion. Blogging and tweeting, if practiced properly, feel more like a creative project than an exercise in self-disclosure, even though of course they are both. They also don’t require the in-person social multi-tasking that many people find so exhausting.
7. Strengthen your backbone, and therefore your confidence, in small steps. Get in the habit of asking yourself where you stand on various questions. When you have firm opinions or a strong sense right or wrong on a given question, savor the feeling. It doesn’t matter what kind of question – it can be how to organize the dishwasher.
The point is to get used to the feeling of having a center, and operating from it. Then, produce more consequential ideas from this same place. You’ll still have doubts, of course -Does it make sense? Will people agree? That’s normal. But you need to have confidence about the underlying purpose of your undertaking.
8. If you need a role model of fearless idea generation and sharing, you really need look no further than Arianna Huffington and her Third Metric mission. She’s not worried about resistance, criticism, or taking on a mission that could, theoretically, fail.
Or maybe she is worried, but she does it nonetheless. And that, really sums it up: be afraid, but do it anyway.
Artists are so often (not always, of course!) people who find the quiet time of creative introspection fulfilling and sustaining. Its often something artists do because what happens in the moments of intimate expression of our imaginative life simply matter so much to us. We are most at home in the busywork of making new things real. We’d rather create than almost anything else. And the time spent alone in the studio is where we often feel happiest. At least, it is part of the happiness we have found, and we still have enjoyable and fulfilling lives outside what we do on our own mixing paints, staring at keyboards, strumming the strings of an instrument, pushing clay around….
Art simply appeals to the more introverted of us because its an opportunity specifically designed to explore our inner workings. We feel things deeply, and we plunge into those icy waters until we learn to swim and even breathe underwater. Unlike the keg parties and mosh pits of the gregarious lives we sometimes lead outside our studios, the private time working on our art is a space that VALUES the quiet interior life.
So my experience has been that many if not most artists at least sympathize with the difficulties of shyness and introversion. The skills we have to offer don’t always seem to be appreciated as much in the public domain. And that is often why art becomes so attractive to so many of us: Art is a means of expressing the things we care about on our own terms and in our own way. It declares “Take me as I am.” Its not always an attempt to ‘fit in’ or to talk the loudest over the blaring music. Its not always an attempt to stand out or preen in the spotlight. Often our art is something quite a bit more humble than those things, a bit more personal, and sometimes mostly significant to ourselves.
Which doesn’t mean its not worth sharing! We make our art for whatever reason, and sometimes it is important to get it out in the world so that other people see what you are thinking and recognize the fundamental humanity you have to offer. Being known in this way is, perhaps, a deep need for every person. Its just a bigger leap of faith for introverts and shy people. Just remember that you are not alone. You are not the only one feeling these things.
And for the extroverts out there reading this, I may not be speaking about you but I am still speaking to you. This is how around 40-60% of the people you know feel. These are the things some of your friends and family have to deal with. Understand the issues and learn to empathize with what they are going through. The world can be so much more kind than it is. Don’t you think?
All for now!
Make beauty real!