Are you struggling to feel like you really "fit-in" at work? Click through for 3 awesome ways to embrace your nervousness in the office.

Confession: Professional settings intimidate me. I get butterflies when I dial into conference calls. I nervously rehearse the details of upcoming staff meetings at my desk. I gravitate away from the birthday celebrations my co-workers flock towards. Sound familiar?

I’ve been in the same office environment for over three years, and I’m still scared to get on an elevator with a top executive. I used to think my shyness in the workplace was a sign of weakness. I thought it inhibited my abilities to succeed professionally. I believed that “fitting the mold” was the only way to find my place in the office.

But what I’ve learned is that the office is full of several different personality types, and each of them has a rightful place. It’s okay (and normal to a certain extent!) to be nervous in the workplace, as long as you channel that nervous energy into something positive. I’ve found my place as an intimidated young professional by learning to embrace my fears.

I’ve determined that my tendencies aren’t a flaw, but a trait.

It’s an undeniable fact that the professional workplace plays host to several unique personality types. Some thrive in social settings, vying to be heard, while others mingle shyly on the outskirts trying not to be noticed.

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These different personalities are essential to making the world go round—some jobs require great people skills, while others are better suited for quiet cubicle dwellers.

Regardless of your social prowess (or lack thereof), it’s important to remember that your character traits are simply a part of who you are. You’d do yourself some good to embrace them.

Exposing my personal interests actually enhances my professional experiences.

Although I’m thankful and fortunate for my job, my responsibilities at work are very different from my personal interests and hobbies. When I began my first nine-to-five, I rarely told my technical-minded co-workers about my love of comics, my affinity for hiking, or my passion for contemporary poetry. But once I began sharing my interests with co-workers, I was able to build stronger relationships with those around me.

Having casual conversations about personal interests can be a good break from work every once in awhile, and allows co-workers to connect to each other on a personal level. What’s more, these enlightening conversations can help you find colleagues with similar interests, and even open yourself up to exciting professional opportunities.

Had I never mentioned my experience in radio broadcasting to a colleague of mine, I never would’ve had the opportunity to record voiceovers for company videos. The experience came entirely as an outcome of a casual conversation.

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I can turn my fear into fuel.

In his Forbes.com post “If You’re Not Nervous, You’re Not Growing: Lessons in Change and Courage,” Rob Asghar claims,

“Confidence and courage are overrated. In the success-is-everything world that we’ve got at the moment, people are all about finding a few easy steps to cultivating boldness and crushing fear. Yet it’s unwise to build a life that has little or no room for fear and anxiety.”

After all, fear is a motivator, and sometimes the scary option is the only one that will lead to growth. My fear of sounding unintelligent in meetings is what motivates me to prepare ahead of time. Fear of falling flat on a phone interview is what inspires us to practice beforehand.

What’s more, fear is often a sign that we care about doing a good job. It doesn’t have to be debilitating. It can be motivating. Later, Asghar boldly states, “Fear and anxiety remain the growing pain of the soul, at any stage of life. If you’re not feeling fear, you’re not growing.” Taking a leadership position at work can be scary and stressful, but it can also lead to growth you’d never experience without taking the risk.

The professional office environment can be intimidating. The necessity to always be “on” can become exhausting, especially for those who shy away from social interaction.

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For a long time, I believed that the professional workplace inhibited me from being myself. I felt like I was pretending to be a professional, instead of actually being one. Letting my personal interests shine through in my work, chatting casually with co-workers, and embracing my shy mannerisms has allowed me to grow tremendously. There’s a place for all of us in the professional world, it just takes some of us a little longer to find it.



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