Since I started The Great Growth over a month ago, one of my main goals has been to improve my social skills and be more outgoing, since this would allow me to build relationships and make friends, as well as being better at networking for job hunting and business opportunities, and many other things.

In one of the first posts I published on this website (also on one of my 100 day challenges), I talked about how I would remain positive at all times, and how I would be so happy about life that I would pass this on to people around me and literally be a happiness and optimism radiator. I have come to realize this is not who I am. I actually LIKE being more reserved and mysterious, I do not like to force myself to smile every time I go out in public (I did this to look more approachable) even when I am feeling like CHIT on the inside. I also I feel like I am begging people to like me by pretending being someone I am not. If they want to talk to me they will, if not then it is their loss. This does not mean that I will turn into a Grinch and look angry all the time. This just means I will go from being all positive and optimistic about this project, to being more SERIOUS about it, even if this means getting angry at lack of results or life stress, and displaying this to the rest of people. This DOES NOT mean being rude to people, it means not hiding my emotions and being more serious, that is it. Think of it as my coping mechanism for stepping out of my comfort zone. I will still work on my social skills, I will just not look all smiley and jumpy all the time.

POINT 1: MYTH OF BECOMING AN EXTROVERT

For a while I thought that in order for me to achieve my goals (social and other goals) I had to become an extrovert person, since it would be easier to connect with people that way and therefore gaining perks such as networking and business opportunities, having travel buddies, sports (tennis) partners and so on. I thought that becoming an extrovert person was the only way. However I have come to the realization that even though being an extrovert has its obvious benefits, being an introvert at times can also have its perks, which lead me to the idea of ambiverts.

Being an ambivert means being an introvert on certain situations and being closer to an extrovert on others. Whether you are an extrovert on certain situations because you naturally feel like it (i.e hanging out with your best friends) or because you feel you have to fake it (i.e to thrive at business meetings or on job interviews), still, being or acting extroverted will be treated as the same here.

In my case, I would consider myself somewhat of an extrovert when it comes to socializing at tennis tournaments. I have been attending the same tennis tournaments 4 times per year for the past 2 years, and have met people there who I run into again every single time. We have become a tennis community in which everybody knows everybody, or most at least. Here it is easy for me to talk to people because we can talk about tennis (which we are mostly all passionate about) or other things.

On the other hand I am more of an introvert when going to nightclubs. I do not usually hit the night clubs, but in the past when I did do it more often I did not enjoy it, I would rather stay inside my comfort zone when it comes to partying, and it is nice to feel in our comfort zones (from time to time, not permanently though).

POINT 2: MY OWN EXAMPLE OF HOW I WILL ENJOY BEING AN AMBIVERT (especially an introvert)

In the past when thinking about having an active social life, I thought that I had to become a social butterfly and get used to taking the lead and opening up conversations with everyone to make it a habit. It is true that with time and practice this would get me closer to becoming a full time extrovert, but truth be told, I enjoy being an introvert at times. I love staying home on a Friday night and watch a movie, or read a book, or get under my blanket and watch some TV. I enjoy walking in the streets without having to engage in small talk with anyone who runs by me, just keeping to myself. I like being a little mysterious, shy. I like to think this is part of my charm.

When I was considering going full time extrovert I pictured what that would look like. I imagined someone who would be smiling all the time, with a high pitched voice, in my humble opinion what some people would considered a BETA male (as opposed to an alpha male, which now I know is not the truth at all), someone who can start a conversation with anyone and who is happy-go-lucky all the time. Someone who is all jumpy and maybe a bit feminine, who is smiling at people in the street and starting up conversations and connecting people.

I did not like this idea very much because like I already said, that is not me. Would being that person has its benefits? Obviously, but that is just not who I am, or who I wish to be. I enjoy being an introvert mysterious guy, but I also want to be able to socialize when I decide it is the right time. I want to be able to socialize whenever I want to talk to someone but I am being nervous, or when I am at a social event and I do not want to be left alone in the corner and I just want to make time go by, or when I want to increase my job hunting opportunities and so on. I want to be able to socialize on demand, but still falling back to my sort of introverted self when I am done. Basically, I want to be very good at being an ambivert.
Especially since there are many benefits to being an introvert, such as:

1- You are more independent and self-sufficient
2- You are likely to be more introspective, analyze how you are feeling and why, and stuff like that.
3- You could be a better listener, observant, analytical
4- You will not get into much trouble (since extroverts are also known for getting into wild situations)
5- A more active imagination
6- You enjoy alone time, as opposed to extroverts who might feel lonely if not surrounded by people
7- They might make better informed and elaborated decisions, while extroverts will find it easier to decisions on the spot
8- Ability to focus for longer periods of time
9- You think before you speak
10- etc

Now that I know that I do not have to be a full time extrovert, but instead I can become an ambivert, I can work on my social skills without thinking that I have to change completely who I am. In fact just thinking about being reserved as I am, while at the same time having an active social life and a good job and networking opportunities is getting me all pumped up. Thinking that I had to change completely to socialize had me stressed out which caused me to procrastinate on actually socializing, now that this load is off my shoulders I can begin to work on my social skills without thinking of extremes. To read my first post on the social skills I am using click here.

POINT 3: DOES THIS MEAN I HAVE TO BE RUDE TO PEOPLE AND LOOK ANGRY ALL THE TIME?

No, this does not mean to be rude or pessimistic, not even to look like that, it means to look as if you were serious about a life mission and focused on a quest at all times, it is not the same as looking angry, but I can see how some people could get confused. Being angry means not only showing a certain face expression it also involves certain body language poses, such as arms crossed. This is what an angry man looks like to me:

Now this is what an extroverted guy looks to me (the opposite of above): Remember I am only against looking like this if you are pretending or when you are not really feeling it.

Now here is what I am aiming for with this new approach, a serious and focused yet not angry look:

Robert Downey Jr. FOR SEVEN DAYS COVER STORY

Also I have been told that I look more masculine when I am with a fearless face. I will be dusting off my aviator badass sunglasses. You can be happy and still look neutral and serious to people, this is just who I am. Think of it as an experiment, you avoid PRETENDING you are happy when you really are not, so that when you actually feel happy it will be 10x better. You still try to be happy while being serious about life, after all there has to be balance between stress and happiness, you just do not fake it for the sake of desperately attracting people. Some people might disagree with me and say that we should be smiling around people to look more approachable, but that is not who I am, I love being reserved and exclusive with my friendships, BUT if I WERE to engage in a conversation or social interactions with strangers, I will treat them with respect and offer my best to them because that is how I was raised. I can still go out and smile at people if I feel like it, but I will not be forced to do it every time.

You can be an angry-looking introvert and still excel at socializing with people. You can even make someone´s day by following a single tip. Use an OFFER MENTALITY. Even if you are not out there craving for human interaction, whenever you end up talking with someone try to have a positive impact on them, if for whatever reasons you are feeling like crap, do not be rude to them, just be polite and tread them with respect. Even if you are an introvert who is reserved and all to himself, just by answering a simple question like WHAT TIME IS IT? with a nice POLITE smile can make a person´s day turn over. You never know when someone might need this. Maybe after you tell that person (say it is a girl) the time, you then give her a SINCERE (not fake) compliment on her outfit, and this could give her the confidence boost she needed. This is the type of OFFER MENTALITY I am trying to have. It is not sacrificing ourselves, it is to put us and our lives first while still looking for ways to add value to other people. Now lets go out there an be the best ambiverts we can be!!

Andrew I.

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Things to be excited about this year!

  • Tennis tournaments!

  • Trip to Paris, London, Scotland and Ireland – Late May 2017

  • Expanding my post-grad education, learning more and making connections!

  • Getting my 1st car, being more independent.

Book I am reading on April

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