When I got my first copywriting job, I could see my life coming together nicely. I got to write for a living, and I could use the money I earned to buy books and gig tickets and see my friends.
So when I found out writers are supposed to be naturally curious about everything, I began to worry if writing was the right job for me.
A grumpy loner-type
I’ve always considered myself to be introverted. I’ve never needed large groups of friends and I find parties and adventures tiring. The situation I described above could do my life just fine. So when my boss told me that I wasn’t showing enough curiosity in my job, I panicked, as I’ve always seen this as an extroverted trait.
As I was new to the company, I knew nothing about its inner-workings. This was a regular talking point at weekly meetings and, because I didn’t know anything, I didn’t say anything. It’s not like I could have said anything relevant, so I thought keeping silent was a good thing. That’s self-editing, right?
However, my boss said this was part of my problem, and that he was worried that my quietness would give the company a negative image if we went networking as a unit.
Networking is an almost compulsory part of job searching and connection building these days, which requires a lot of talking to people you don’t know. Extroverts thrive in these situations, as conversations spur them on. But being in a room with loads of strangers is a situation that terrifies and exhausts me.
I soon started envisaging myself negatively, as a grumpy loner-type who hates trying new things.
What does curiosity look like?
I thought back to my university days, where I was surrounded by lots of writers, and some of them were just as introverted as me.
As quiet as they were, they were happy to take book recommendations off each other and try out all kinds of writing and attend events in small groups. That’s how they learned new information.
This helped me to realise that curiosity comes in different forms. So what if I’m quiet and a bit of a loner? That doesn’t have to stop me from going to places I’ve never been to before, or reading books I’d never thought I’d read or trying my roommate’s cooking.
It is possible to be introverted and curious, and only seeing curiosity as loud and outgoing, is, quite ironically, a grumpy loner-type thing to do.