How Understanding My Introverted Nature Transformed My Career
It’s about finding balance between your introverted nature and your passions in a way that doesn’t drain you.
Singing has always been easy for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve sung as easily as I breathed. I sang long before I talked. I loved the physical sensation of vocalizing and enjoyed hearing the sounds coming out of my mouth.
Choosing to make a career as a singer was therefore pretty obvious, right? Well… it has been more complicated than that. At 20, while studying vocal technique at the Conservatoire de Pantin (my music school in Paris), I didn’t know that a career should — ideally — be chosen according to your introverted or extroverted nature. And as much as I knew I was a singer, I was also an introvert.
Passion and Talent Don’t Always Match Your True Nature
I followed my first obvious passion, just as my dear mother had always told me to do. I had everything I needed to make a career as a lyric singer: a good ear, musicality, a nice timber, good stage presence (which is not common for most introverts!), and a flexible and agile voice.
So, I had everything… except for an extroverted nature.
I think back to all the auditions I had like a draining nightmare: singers talking and vocalizing in the halls while I was waiting for my turn, unable to concentrate, and judges staring at me and taking a bunch of notes while I was singing my heart out and fighting against the fact that I never liked to be the center of attention.
Back when I was on tour with an opera company, we’d travel by train or bus to go sing on the other side of France, without having the opportunity to isolate ourselves and refocus before the curtains would open. Introverts need alone time. But, when I’d be on tour all year, it was impossible for me to have it. I remember the constant busyness of life while in a singing troupe, whether it was while we were in transport, in dressing rooms, or in hotels. Singers, dancers, musicians, technicians — everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Can you picture, dear introvert, the crowd, the loudness, the animation of this life?
Fortunately, I’ve made some great friendships and festive memories over the years. After all, introverts are not misanthropes. But now that I have come to realize my introverted nature, it’s crystal clear why this career always felt particularly difficult and exhausting for me. Which brings me to my next point…
Sometimes Your Introverted Nature Shows You the Way: Listen
At the same time, and probably to counterbalance this too-lively facet of my life, I developed a very different, though equally creative, career: writing. If you’re a “quiet one,” you probably understand why writing is the perfect activity for introverts.
As a writer, I get to work from home, most of the time alone (even if I sometimes write with co-writers) in a calm, silent, serene environment, my cat by my side. I don’t have to travel miles away from home during the creative process. I’m able to submit my work by email (and eventually meet publishers when they show interest in my work). And I’m able to rest alone in a hotel during promotional tours, book fairs, and festivals. All of this makes my introvert soul happy and fulfilled.
I didn’t intend, at first, to make a career in writing. I remember the reason why I sent my first draft of a picture book, Le secret, to a publisher: I simply wanted my daughter to hold the book I wrote in her hands someday. But when I saw my first book published in a bookstore and received my first royalties, I was hooked: Even if this first amount was not astronomical, it meant that I was able to earn money and be recognized as an author without having to go through professional exhaustion. It meant that it was possible to thrive in a career I loved without sacrificing all my energy. And the books and screenplays I’ve written since then have proven me right.
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How to Balance Your Life and Career According to Your Introversion
If you haven’t started your professional life yet, I strongly advise you to take your introversion into account before you choose your career path. It will save you much time, energy, and effort.
If you already started a career and are doing work that drains you and that you don’t particularly like, well, why not think about doing something else? Doing a more introvert-focused job might be quite a revelation for you.
And if you really like your job, as I still love singing, but it doesn’t completely fit with your introversion, don’t worry: You don’t have to quit a job you’re passionate about if you suddenly realize it drains you because you’re an introvert! Here are some ideas to help you adapt your current work situation to your true nature:
- First of all, don’t hesitate to find help in little practical things that are an introvert’s best friend, like earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, to create quiet time wherever you are.
- Get rid of office clutter to make your work space as relaxing as possible. And since introverts appreciate a minimally stimulating environment, choose a light and ambience that suit your eyes.
- Don’t hesitate to explain to people around you why you need to be alone for a little while: You might open another introvert’s eyes to their true nature!
- Don’t force yourself into small talk, lunch with colleagues, or office parties. You’re not being rude, you’re preserving yourself.
- If it’s possible in your profession, ask if you can work from home more often. Since COVID-19 began, your boss may have realized that having employees working from home makes them more productive, and it’s especially true for introverts.
- Lastly, start developing a side hustle more in line with your ideal lifestyle. This way, you can eventually make it your full-time hustle if you want to.
In my case, acknowledging (and embracing) my introverted nature helped me find ways to adapt. I still sing professionally. I love it, am good at it, and the world needs as many artists as possible. But, these days, I’m wiser and more careful when I choose my contracts, because I know I need to take care of myself if I want to keep singing 40 years from now. And I now have more introvert rituals in place, too.
Before I go on stage, for example, I find a quiet space to isolate myself. I’ve become quite good at this little game and can now find very comfy spaces: at the top of a staircase, in a spare room, or in my dressing room when I don’t share it. I also use ear plugs almost all the time when I need to rest while commuting to the venue, and I read a book or put on a sleep mask whenever I need to, as well.
Finally, my colleagues understand my needs now, because I took time to explain my introverted nature to them. And I must say that being an introvert makes me a better singer: I am deeply in touch with the characters I perform, with their feelings and personality. In fact, so much so that I almost forget that I’m the one on stage. I am not Caroline anymore, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.
(Here’s why performance can be empowering for introverts.)
With the time and energy I gain as a singer who now embraces my introverted nature, I constantly develop my writing career in many inspiring ways. I also help writers and artists thrive in their careers — from the comfort of my quiet home, my cat on my lap. The beauty of being a multi-active artist is that I follow the natural law of cycles. There are times when I am mainly a singer, and times when I am mainly a writer (or a coach). And during the times when I develop one of my activities, the other ones rest on their chrysalis, to come back at some point, stronger than ever. I’ve now reached a balance between my introverted nature and my passions — a balance that I might never have found if I hadn’t embraced being an introvert.
If you recognize yourself in what I wrote, or are curious about my work, I would be delighted for you to get in touch with me at Caroline-Hurtut.com.
You might like:
- Embracing My Introversion Changed My Life
- How I Found a Career That Had Introversion Written All Over It
- If You Relate to These 10 Signs, You’re Probably an ‘Extroverted’ Introvert
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