17/52: Introvert

It's tough being an introvert in an extrovert world.

Each week for a year, I’m going to be designing a shirt and releasing it on my Threadless store. This is the design for week 17.

No one believes me, but I’m an introvert. Yes, I speak in front of crowds without much of a problem. I have no problem talking to people I know. And I would never describe myself as “shy.”

But I am 100%, absolutely an introvert.* Being around people all day wears me out. I struggle networking when I go to a conference or event where I don’t know anyone. Trying to talk to someone I don’t know at all can be paralyzing. After a full slate of morning meetings, I often need to go for a walk and decompress. I have no problem eating lunch by myself. Being in the middle of a large crowd can be overwhelming. And I need my alone time.

Because of my job and the challenges I take on, I have to be an extrovert sometimes. I have to work at controlling my introverted nature. Every extrovert behavior I have is learned. I do a good job of hiding how uncomfortable I am in social situations, but “being an extrovert” exhausts me. And I have to recharge with some significant alone time.

I’ve come to accept that being an introvert is a big part of being me, so this week’s shirt celebrates being an introvert in the quietest way possible. “Introvert” is a subtle design positioned in the lower corner of the shirt, almost like it’s hiding on the periphery of a really crowded conference in a vast hotel ballroom. You can buy a copy on Threadless.

* INTJ on Myers-Briggs, to be precise.

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.