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I am not an introvert anymore
Painfully shy as a kid, I did not grow up to be an introvert. That is my story.
I was born and brought up in Ulsoor - an older, laid-back part of Bangalore. We were a typical middle class conservative family.
My siblings and immediate cousins were my friends. It took all of 2 minutes to get to school, but it never occurred to me to make more friends there.
I became a science student at Mount Carmel College. I glimpsed here, possibilities of socialising, yet the conservative leash held me back.
Then Wipro happened. Wipro was experimenting to hire science graduates and then training them to be world class engineers. Shy and introverted – yet, I got selected. Yay!
I did not do well for the first 2 years in Wipro. Work wise, I delivered. My appraisal feedback had said, ‘She does not speak out in meetings’.
I withdrew further into my shell. I was embarrassed, I had failed. The job seemed to offer all possibilities, but I was unable to grab it.
Then, Rajshree - a senior in my team - took me under her wings. One day, she took me up to the roof-top cafeteria. She heard me out over bhajjis and chai. Then she asked me to work on my weaknesses, one at a time. “Begin by being more visible”, she had said.
I moved to a new project around that time and consciously decided to don a new persona.
I was sweating the first time my hand shot up to volunteer for an unknown task. A week later, I was elated when my new manager praised me for a job well done. ‘Don’t think twice before volunteering - then deliver’, became my mantra.
The new manager would give me small tasks and knowing that she trusted me, worked like a magic potion. I did my utmost to deliver. I blossomed.
Then the downturn came. Soon I was looking for a new project. My manager and I got into a meeting with a hiring manager who needed capable people. I can not forget how my manager pitched for me. He showed so much faith in my ability.
I guess, when people show such faith, you step up. You deliver on their belief of your worth. His uttered words transformed me.
It affirmed to me that people saw me as capable. Confidence wise - it helped!
More than that, I decided I wanted to talk and pitch like my manager. Thank you @Anand Moorthy!
I was afraid of speaking in Public so I joined the toastmasters forum. You made a difference to me @Ian Faria.
With no one judging me, I began to speak freely. The shy girl who only had siblings for friends became a toast of toastmasters.
I learnt to speak my mind and share my views openly. Later, while in the US thanks to @Bonita Byrd, I got a chance to briefly speak on national TV and make the most of it.
I did not stop. I was scared of water, so I joined swimming.
I feared travelling solo, so I backpacked in Europe. Wary of socialising - I consciously reached out to strangers.
Within me, I confronted whatever needed fixing.
Investing in myself has not only made me a better person, but also given me a path to show to others. When I see another shy Veda, I take her up for bhajjis and chai to the cafeteria upstairs.
Today, I believe it is the divine who makes connections for us. I am just a vessel who needs to be open to living, learning and giving.