Becoming an Introvert

Today’s my 28th Birthday, and It’s been almost 7 years since I graduated from college, a bubbly, outgoing 21-year-old with dreams of a husband and babies and not really a whole lot else. Like most of us do, I’ve changed, and in some surprising ways. 6 1/2 of those 7 years have been spent working from home. I started at AT&T, where I worked out of my home office and telecommuted in for meetings. At max, there were a few months where I was going into the office 2-3 times per week.

Then I quit to start my own company and moved across the country. Here, I purposely chose not to root Design by Laney in the local wedding industry, anticipating our second move, which is now happening in a few months. In Denver…who knows how things will shake out?

I realize you don’t need my entire back story, but it’s a been a very long, very slow process, and it’s been tough to come to terms with where it’s taken me. Growth doesn’t always happen the way you think it will, and it sometimes takes on different forms than you expect.

Those 7 years have made me a more efficient worker, they’ve made me more confident, and they’ve taught me how to sit inside of my weaknesses - for better and for worse. I am a better version of myself in very many ways, but I am also slowly becoming something I never, ever thought I would be - an introvert.

I always thought of “introvert” as a dirty word, something that would make me less successful, less likable. Introverted is the exact opposite of how I always viewed myself - “outgoing” was pretty much my number one personality trait. Honestly, if you met me today for the first time, “introverted” still may not be in the top 10 words you’d use to describe me, but I can feel it creeping further and further up that list.

Working from home, being my own boss, spending so much more time evaluating myself as a person have all led to more need for that alone time. When Alex is gone for weeks, I still find myself craving human interaction, of course, but after a few hours, I find myself drained and need to retreat into my own world again. Small talk is tougher, large gatherings more daunting, and the idea of moving to a brand new city and starting over is less exciting and more terrifying than it was before.

It’s all a give and take of growth and experience, where those things that have allowed me to grow in a positive direction into confidence, strength, and self-awareness, have also pushed me into something different, something I never thought I’d be, something I used to view as a defect.

But the truth is, you don’t really ever change who you are, you just change how you react and respond to everyday things. I’m more of an introvert now, but I’m still social, I’m still “bubbly,” and I’m still someone who needs human attention to feel whole - just in a different way.

I think that girl 7 years ago would be happy (albeit a little surprised) about my business success and I think she’d be proud of many of my choices (to give back, stand up for what I believe in, and help the community around me). I also don’t think she’d recognize me in some ways. On graduation day, that girl’s whole life plan, I kid you not, was “I guess I’ll work in whatever job, and then go part-time in a couple years when I finally get married and have kids”. If you’ve gotten to know me recently, I’m sure you’re thinking “WHAT?!”. But yeah…that was me!

I wanted to be good, but didn’t know at what. My biggest, and only real goal, was to raise children (it’s actually still my biggest goal, but isn’t my only one any longer). I was bubbly, weird, and talked way too much, very similar to who I am now. I’m much the same, but I’ve felt this dramatic shift kind of bubbling below the surface, ever so slowly over the last 7 years, and I can only imagine it’ll keep shifting over the next 10, 15, 20.

Maybe just because it’s my Birthday, maybe because I’m about to hit the expiration date of women in our society (that is a joke, friends!), but it’s fun (and sometimes not) to think about the paths that we’ve chosen and where they lead us. Some change is positive, some negative, and of course, some neither, yet entirely surprising all the same.

As I celebrate another year, I am so grateful for all the changes in my life, and learning to better accept the different version of “me” they’ve brought along with them. In 20 years, I hope this blog showcases an even bigger journey than the last 7 years have, and that I have the grace and strength to keep celebrating all of those changes, even the unexpected ones.