Starve social anxiety, feed introversion

As I contemplate the gradual shift from a contemporary ‘nine to five’ career with a guaranteed income, to a free-flowing, freelance writing career (hopefully with some income!) I am faced with a paradigm shift that comes hand in hand with freelance writing; the departure of being an ‘acceptable’ member of society, and the embrace of becoming a hermit-like creature, working from the darkness of a shadowy study, the only light coming from the flickering of the computer monitor… or so society would have you believe.

The thought of waking in the morning, filling my ‘socialoemeter’ with my husband’s presence then settling down to a day of writing and communicating with clients thousands of miles away via email is not a daunting idea to me. In fact, it’s my personal idea of bliss. Why? Because I am an introvert. An INFJ by the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator to be exact. A soul who yearns for peace and space; my own little pocket of the universe where I can write silently, behind the scenes, and still in some way contribute to society.

I often reflect upon that old adage ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’ where the underlying message is that it’s helpful to indulge certain behaviours and deny others for health benefits. My thought where freelance writing is concerned is starve social anxiety, feed introversion. Lessen the amount of contact with society which is such a depleting drain on introverts, and feed the amount of ‘alone’ time, thus simultaneously feeding the creative soul to do its thing; write.

psychology-of-introverted-employees

Sounds like a great theory right? Maybe. The problem is that I’ve studied too much psychology to be aware of concepts like systematic desensitisation and exposure therapy; the deliberate exposure of the patient to the problem stimuli for the purpose of pairing that stimuli with controlled familiarity to eventually (hopefully) see the extinction of the adverse fear, behaviour or phobic reaction. If I were to apply these principles to myself, I should expose myself in calm controlled bursts to the problem stimuli (society) to build a comfortable tolerance to cavorting, small talk and the ‘acceptable norm’.

So what is a humble, awkward introvert to do? Retreat to a place of happiness and risk becoming the proverbial ‘crazy cat lady’, shunned by society but uninterrupted whilst ghostwriting the next Harry Potter series? Or struggle daily, shoulder to shoulder with loud, happy extroverts, pasting a dullard’s smile across tight lips to hide a mask of agony, yet accepted by the very society she wants to write for?

My only answer is this; binges and detox fads must always come to an end. The body cannot function if left to starve, even if it’s for the purposes of flushing out toxins or fighting a fever. Food – nourishment – must always be reintroduced to strengthen the body.

Then why not too the soul?

 

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