I used to be an introvert. I don’t mean the way every awkward 13-year-old is an introvert. I was timid for a good chunk of college, and had to take deliberate steps to develop myself. Since then I’ve managed kitchens, been an oil salesman, overseen the training of new employees, and as a journalist I’ve covered events, interviewed CEOs and business leaders and university Deans. I successfully burst my comfort zone.
About half-way through college I decided to take an academic hiatus and travel the country. I knew I was book-smart, that I could achieve the goals I set myself to doing, and I knew I enjoyed people. I enjoyed conversations and sharing new ideas and experiences, but in a limited scope — whenever I left my comfort zone, ie. campus or my hometown, I’d become timid. It was a lack of life experience, of learning first-hand how to conduct myself around a diversity of people and in a diversity of situations. To that end, I traveled by car, bus, rideshare, plane and foot. I stayed with old friends, went camping, used couchsurfing.com, and, when necessary, I slept in my car. I met people who I will never forget in North Carolina, Ohio, Nebraska, Texas, California, New York (and in two dozen other states).
I then returned and finished my B.A. in Journalism. I had developed new skills and capabilities, learned life lessons and gained life experience, all of which helped me approach my studies more rigorously than I had before.
In the end, I’m still much the same person. My jokes are still hit-or-miss. I’m empathetic, easy-going and amicable. I love watching my ideas turn into projects that turn into tangible results; much more so when I am directing the team, knowing the responsibility lies on me. I’m a workhorse. I love the days when the deadlines are stark and my schedule is hectic, and juggling four projects at once turns my brain into a high-functioning factory floor. But just as I have always been interested in learning new ideas, so too do I still value listening before speaking; I’ve retained some important introverted qualities. At the end of the day as I’m driving home, or while I’m reading at night, I still adore the quiet because that’s my time to reflect, to hone-in on the solutions I am trying to find.
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