Saturday 31 January 2015

2 Jobs for Introverts and those with Social Anxiety

What are the best jobs for introverts?

I have always been one of those people who finds it hard to socialize. Books such as Quiet: The Power of Introverts..., The Introvert Advantage and The Rise of the Introverts have also given me confidence to embrace being an introvert. It started when I learned from a great TED talk that introverts have energy taken from them when socialising and extroverts gain energy from being with people.

Therefore, it makes sense for introverts and people who have the more serious but rarer social anxiety (fear of people), to avoid jobs where you have to interact often and do team work. For me teamwork is just the biggest turn off. In sales jobs team work building is a big thing. Great for extroverts but for me a nightmare. Avoidant personality disorder and other social phobia issues leave a lot of us with limited choices.

I failed a course at school because there were presentations in front of the class. I just didn't go to classes. I thought that was just me, but reading the books above and seeing the TED video made me realize it is more common than we think. So here is my first post of advice with others. At 40 years old I have got to a fairly comfortable stage with social phobia and being introverted.

So lets start with what I do:

Working Online is a Great Job for Introverts

There are a hundred plus things that you can do online. It means less contact with the real world and if you get into a situation like I am in, I almost never have to communicate with people other than by email, or when doing my English courses for adults in London.

This may sound like heaven but think about it, we are supposed to be social creatures. Therefore unless you are very happy being alone and have a supportive other half, be careful. You don’t want to be one of those overweight bachelors or spinsters who never leave their home and just order take out food all the time.

Working online is great but if you are single especially, make sure you get some human contact. This is easier said than done but I believe if you hide away and work online without a partner and ideally friends to socialise with, you will end up lonely and unhappy.

best jobs for introverts

Teaching is actually quite good for some introverts

As a member of various organisations for introverts and those with social phobia, I find it baffling how many people are teachers. My Mum has some similarities with nervousness around others, but she has been a happy teacher for many years. She started in primary schools, moved on to secondary school (apparently that was more stressful- sounds like my worst nightmare). Now she teaches smaller groups at an English language school in Manchester teaching IELTS courses.

Anyway this is not something I could ever do, despite numerous attempts from my Mum to get me to to it. However it seems to be a case of facing your fear, which I believe is a great way to overcome problems. I just couldn’t stand in front of a class of 20-30 kids.

Teaching can be done in many ways. My Mum taught from toddlers up to those getting ready for college. She also taught those with issue like dyslexia for a while; I think this would be a great first step for introverts as they were tiny group sessions. She now simply teaches English. You can teach a subject you are interested in. You can teach around the world. It is seems to be a very flexible job when you consider the many options. So if you can see yourself doing it, certainly have a think. My Mum said her most rewarding moments were at the end of the school year when young children would do sweet things like say “thanks you are the best teacher” with a gift.

My friend is also an introvert who is an expert programmer. He moved to Japan over 10 years ago and has a wonderful family. He needed to get a Certificate of Eligibility in Japan.  Luckily his wife is an immigration lawyer there, so he was able to get it easier than most. I am sure you can understand it would be quite daunting without a lawyer's help. 

Whilst mentioning the orient, one bonus I have found is that locals don't expect you to know the language. Which is great if you suffer from social anxiety, whereas when I visited South America everyone thought we were local a tried to speak to us in Spanish. Asia is certainly easier for dark haired people. 

Bonus tip: Blogging has helped me "get out there"

I did a little vlogging and blogging for a tea which has amazing health benefits for people with social anxiety, check out the recipe below. Update: this tea has coincided with a really productive time in my life with far less depression cause from being introverted and socially anxious. But I have also made an effort to change my mindset and be more positive, so I can't be sure how effective it is. I didn't appear on camera, but at least I spoke. It was a boost.

Bonus tip: hobby which is therapeutic for social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder AVPD

I have to share this as it has been an amazing help to me. It is street photography. I quickly got into it and now have a street photography blog. This is where I share my photos. You can also share them on Facebook and other places online. 

Street photography is something anyone can do, you don't even need a camera, I started on my phone. It forces shy people to be around people and gets you used to interacting with them. You can choose how much interaction there is. You can pretend to be shooting past people, or you can have eye contact and offer a thankful gesture once taken the photo, or even talk to people. 

Give street photography a try if you have social phobia, shyness, AVPD etc... It is very helpful and addictive. I have been doing it for about a year and my interest just gets stronger and stronger, especially when visiting new places. Markets and airports are ideal places to start as people are busy doing things.

Update 2021: Vlogging without showing face on screen:

I finally managed to make a video for YouTube as there wasn't one of the same topic. It's very simple but maybe a start.