How I Changed From an Introvert to an Extrovert

From Introvert to Extrovert

Intelligence is a curse. If you haven’t noticed, that is the point of the Simpsons. The intelligent suffer unhappiness and frustrations at the acts of others and society, while the dumb people laugh and enjoy the ride. Who is smarter again?

When I was young I was put in gifted classes. Hated it. Other kids in school made fun of me. I don’t blame them; I was weird. I didn’t care what they thought of me and wasn’t ashamed of nerdy interests. I remember a couple weeks none of my friends wanted to hang out with me and actively avoided me in public. Middle school is chaos and I didn’t get social dynamics. Girls didn’t like me because I couldn’t listen to vapid nonsense and I wasn’t really interested in dating. I would rather be home playing video games or playing sports with my friends. I thought it was because I was weird. And though I was, it was not in the way I thought.

It all changed overnight. Well, over summer, but that sounds less dramatic. You might expect this to be the summer where I met an old kung fu master and learned to get in shape by mastering karate and household chores. I then used my awesome new skills to impress the girls and learn how to talk to them. But people are shallow and the truth is rarely as inspiring as an 80s movie. The truth was middle school was my awkward stage and high school was when I grew into my looks. Is it shallow? Yeah, but that’s how society works. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can use this to your advantage. It’s not all genetic either. That is an excuse people use to sit comfortably on the couch with their diet soda and processed food. These people poison their minds and bodies then question why she left. Why they are unhappy, unsuccessful and unfulfilled. It is simply easier to make up a one liner for an excuse than to change your life for the better.

Freshman year I show up to school and suddenly I’m in the it crowd, because I was attractive and played sports. My middle school crush is in my study hall and geometry class and I’m so confounded when she starts talking to me. Girls didn’t make sense to me, but geometry did. The opposite was true for my crush as fate twists the most unlikely pair together for an inexplicable reason with serendipitous results. I am a leaf at the mercy of the wind. Weeks roll by and I tutor my crush just for the opportunity to spend time with her. What I didn’t appreciate at the time was all the social wisdom I was gleaning in this process. Most relationships are more symbiotic than we first realize.

Then one day we each have a first experience together. She puts her hand on my lap and invites me over to her house to drink and…. Fix her cable. A few days later she gets an A on her geometry test that we studied for together. I’m caught off guard and minorly annoyed because I got a B+ and flatly say “That’s cool.” She then tells me that I didn’t understand. Apparently she never got an A on a test before and is so ecstatic that she gives me a big hug. I don’t think a geometry test ever brought me as much joy as this one did for her. This is one of those early moments in life where I realize I can have a motivating and positive impact on people’s lives.

We then go to prom together where she looks stunning and suddenly all the people in my school think that I am cool and hot, and they stop calling me Bryan instead of Ryan. But then I realize that I only wanted what I couldn’t have, and that my friend was stealing my true love from me who had been my next door neighbor this whole time. Wait…. That’s the plot of Whatever It Takes, my guilty pleasure chick flick with James Franco. Back in reality, I did learn that I had put her up on a pedestal and I really didn’t even know her. So often what we spend days or even years obsessing over is built up so much in our minds that nothing could live up to the expectation in real life. And if you pursue something for that long, by the time you finally achieve it, you’re a changed person. The person you become now has different desires. But I believed that she was more than a pretty face and I like to think that I inspired her to believe in herself. She did go to college to become a nurse and though I don’t keep in touch with her, I think she’s doing awesome. I’m grateful to her because before I met her I was pretty awkward and I didn’t have the confidence to talk to girls, or really anyone I didn’t know. If you met me today, you would have a hard time believing this story. I’ll strike up a random conversation with just about anyone effortlessly. In fact, when she invited me over to her house to drink with her, I never showed up. Many will second guess me on that decision but I was young and it felt like a pivotal moment for me. I could end up the fun party guy who took nothing serious, or I could buckle down, get good grades and focus on my sports… and my innocence for at least a little longer. It paid off. After she built up my confidence, I ran into a nice nerdy girl and I was comfortable enough to talk to her and even got her AOL instant messenger screen name, so I guess you could say things were getting pretty serious.

I was young and ultimately that relationship fizzled but all these little stories add up and build you into the person you are today. There are these pivotal moments though that seem to carry more weight than the average decision; like a fork in the road that will set you on a path. I’ve met plenty of intelligent people, and one thing I’ve noticed is that intelligence is useless without action. It takes confidence to put yourself out there. The average person will get lost of disinterested in a conversation with the smartest person. True success comes from being able to convey a smart message in a format that is digestible to the masses. If you don’t know how to be likeable and hold a conversation, then that intelligence is worthless.

Growing up introverted leads to many awkward moments, but over time it was experiences like this that led to me becoming extroverted. Focusing on the gym and getting in better shape helped with this tremendously. Anyone can notice the presence of someone who is comfortable in their own body by the way they exude confidence. These people attract success into their lives because their aura conveys positivity and ability. If you struggle with confidence, spend some more time in the gym or whatever physical activity you enjoy. My son and I recently took up Jiu Jitsu lessons and it is a fun workout that focuses on discipline and mindset as well as physical exercise.

I think people struggle with interaction because they get anxiety over being rejected. Even insignificant rejections like saying hi to a person on the street and being ignored. Some girl did this to me while I was walking around before my 5K this weekend. She was young and pretty and I’m sure she thought I would hit on her if she said hi. In my youth, this would have bothered me, but it was really her issue that caused her silence, not mine. The trick here is to just have a short memory. Pretty much everyone else would say hello or good morning. Is it just me or are morning people friendlier? The average person just wants to feel connected to something bigger than themselves. With our phones on us all the time we have the ability to connect with just about everyone we know, but we so often take it for granted. These shallow screen relationships work when we are pressed for time, but they don’t offer the true connection that we crave. Even though it is easier to retreat to our screens and share moments through social media, the energy that is palpable in person to person interaction gets lost along the way. Ten years ago, I would not have been able to hit publish on this story. Intelligence is a curse. I know this, because I tend to overthink everything I do and say. But over the years, I’ve learned to just let go and to be me.

 

 Life's a Beach

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