The Reward of Connection

The Wonder of it All by Lisa Bohnwagner

I’ve made an amazing discovery – talking to people is good!

That may seem obvious, but for someone shy and introverted, it’s really not.  It’s so much more comfortable to simply focus on what I’m doing and avoid social situations at all costs.  It’s the constant irrational struggle between wanting to be seen and heard and terrified that someone will actually see or hear me.  It’s exhausting.  And it feels shameful.  Other people seem to enjoy social gatherings and converse easily with others, so what’s wrong with me?  And there’s guilt, too, when I don’t attend friends’ parties or art receptions or only show my face for a few minutes, and then leave.  People who know me might be surprised by this admission.  I put on a pretty good act, but being out in public feels like a performance and the eyes of others weigh heavily upon me.

Cloak of Eyes by Lisa Bohnwagner

This being the case, why would I choose to pursue a career as an artist, a career that is dependent upon me putting myself out there?  And why would my husband and I choose to move to a place with no connections whatsoever?  Honestly, it was by design.  I believe God wants me to use my talents and if I put myself in a situation where I don’t have a choice, I will have to make it work.

Walnut St Bridge Chattanooga

Part of the reason we chose to move to Chattanooga is because it is a growing city.  Lots of tech businesses are moving into the area because of the phenomenal 1 gigabit per second internet speed  – earning it the nickname “Gig City” –  and many online entrepeneurs work from their laptops in shared workspaces or coffee shops.  This has resulted in a multitude networking groups and meet & greet events.  Every few days I attend a different one and make myself talk to people.  To my amazement it’s been absolutely wonderful! People have welcomed me into their spheres of influence.  I’ve met many interesting people and stumbled into opportunities that I NEVER would have found otherwise.

I’ve also received an unbelievable amount of support online from both old friends and new.  It’s thrilling and touching at the same time.  For years I’ve told myself that I can’t talk to people and don’t know how to present myself.  It’s not that I couldn’t, I just didn’t.  Necessity breeds courage.  I’m still a shy introvert and may always feel uncomfortable around people, but every day I’m learning what is possible and that the reward of connection far outweighs the fear.

8 comments

  1. Funny, I never saw you as introverted, I think many artists are- rather be in the studio alone w/music if anything. Congrats on all the new things you’re taking on, I’m certain you will flourish in your new environment. Enjoy

  2. Thank you! I don’t know where you know me from, but I’m more at ease in some situations than others. Or it could be that I’m just a really good actress! 😉

  3. Your joy and bright energy most likely prevents most from seeing an introvert. I was drawn to you from the first time we met. Kudos to you for recognizing this and stepping away from your comfort zone. You are a gift to people you share time with.

  4. I feel the same. It always seems like a performance to attend anything. Family, friends, art openings especially…I never feel like “me”. But adaptability and necessity push me forward, as they do you. And life is fleeting, and moments pass. All is temporary…we can do this.

  5. God always has a way of calling us out of our comfort zone and into abundant life. So glad you are listening and doing! Can’t wait to see his plans for you!

  6. Thanks, Trace! I’m trying! Sometimes it feels scary, sometimes like fumbling around in the dark, but I know there’s a path beneath my feet and I just keep moving forward and trusting.

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