Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An introvert in an extrovert's world.

Wherever introversion meets social anxiety, that's where I am in a job interview. I do a good job of keeping the social anxiety under control in most other situations, with with as much at stake as there is in the job hunt, it just comes out.

I know I come off as unsure of myself. Apparently when it matters, I am. When I get comfortable, when I feel like I have some control over my situation, I can tear down that veneer, but how can you act sure about something you don't already know? It strikes me as dishonest, so I tend to softpedal, to demur, to self-deprecate. I can see myself doing it and I'm still not sure how to unlearn that. No matter how many times I practice individual pieces of an interview, it isn't part of a cogent whole and it especially fails to account for the very real anxiety. An introvert like me needs to plan the hell out of things that make her nervous, and you can't plan an interview, only prepare.

Preparation is pretty much the only “positive” coping mechanism I have—no one, least of all a potential employer, is going to think having notes and print-outs is something to be avoided. I prepare, I preen, I think, I listen to something energizing in the car, I feel pretty, and I am friendly. Then I sit down at their desk and start talking about myself, “ums” and all.

I haven't so far been able to practice without feeling silly or reverting to coping mechanisms. I don't talk myself up; I'm not comfortable with it on the whole. I don't see how it's relevant to the actual doing of a job that I can puff myself up (though I realize it can help a potential employer see me). I use humor to break the tension, sometimes at my own expense (I am working to curb this). I focus on connecting and being honest but thorough.

I'd love to be the kind of person who can enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Sometimes I am—when traveling and cooking; in relationships; with storylines in movies, books, and TV—but with this process, the more time I have to enjoy the journey, the more freaked out I get. Every day presents me with another challenge to my increasingly weak self-esteem. There's glimmers of hope, and they're tests: Can I improve on past experience, or will I regress? Above all, I need to keep in mind that there are others doing the same thing as me, and I need to prove to these people that I'm a better fit than they are. I don't like putting myself above people.

But this being MY blog, I can afford to make a written declaration of my own awesomeness. I am tired of getting in my own way.

I love working and feeling productive. I love being part of a team and making a contribution. I'm not out for glory, but I want the product I work on to be great. I dig a good to-do list and I take time to make sure even typed note sheets look good. I can spot a typo from across the cubicle. The Internet is the air I breathe and I've blogged since before they called them blogs. I am funny, I think before I speak, and I bake a mean vegan cookie. I am an asset—you know you want me.

How are you awesome?

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