In 2019, being an introvert has never been trendier. Memes about being antisocial and “Ew, People” T-shirts have made the whole “don’t talk to me, I just want to stay home and watch Netflix” thing *cool*.
But for me, introversion has become a crutch. License to say “no” to invites and stay quiet in meetings and generally avoid doing anything that could put me ever so slightly out of my comfort zone. What I’m saying is, I was an introvert before it was cool. (Weird flex, but OK.)
Do stimulating social settings drain my energy? They sure do. Do I like—nay, love—being by myself? Oh, you bet. But in the last year or so, I’ve started to think that leaning into being an introvert has been holding me back.
Enter Shonda Rhimes’s best-selling 2015 book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person. Confession: I write about books for a living, but, until the end of last month, I had not only never read Year of Yes, I was also skeptical of it.
Between the cutesy, colorful cover and the “we can do it” title (and cheesy subtitle), I—mistakenly—wrote it off. I didn’t know a ton about Shonda Rhimes, but I assumed that a badass woman like her would be the life of every party and the leader of every meeting. It turns out, she’s not. She, like me, identifies as a lifelong introvert.
She was inspired to change only in 2013 when her sister, Dolores, told her that she never said yes to anything. (Way to hit me where I live, Dolores.) Despite writing and producing several hugely popular shows, Rhimes had let her shyness, insecurities and anxieties stop her from fully enjoying life. So she decided to do something about it—specifically, she set out to say yes to everything that scared her for an entire year.
OK, so now for the how. Reading about her mission, I was motivated…and intimidated. Her plan seemed a touch unrealistic for me, so I decided to create my own version—My Year of Tentative Yes. I’ve made it a goal (not to be confused with a resolution, which I would never keep) to say “yes” 65 percent of the time. Yes to plans and yes to making my voice heard. Basically, yes to things that force me to put myself out there. Just not all of the things. And that’s still huge for me.
To an extrovert, saying “yes” more often—especially only 65 percent—probably sounds like a breeze. To anyone who doesn’t naturally love socializing and being in the spotlight, it requires planning and determination. If I’m going to say “yes” to more stuff, I know I have to prioritize self-care before and after said plans. (Hello, face masks and YouTube yoga tutorials.) If I’m going to speak up more in meetings, I know I have to prepare in advance to an almost comical extent so that I don’t get rattled.
Am I galvanized? Yes. Am I apprehensive? Also yes. (See? I’m saying it more already!) But I’m doing it, dammit. Quick, ask me if I want to go to spin class tonight.