The Bahamas is Your Oyster (If You're an Extrovert)
I'm going to jump straight into it, because I'm already amused at the thought that extroverts are rolling their eyes on this title. Stay with me now!
In a nutshell - I interviewed for a job, and the interviewer ultimately rejected my application because “we were looking for more of a bubbly personality, and we were able to get a feel for who they (the successful applicant) were, right off the bat”. This reason for the rejection did not surprise me, and I would even go so far as to assume that this would be a common theme throughout the life of the Bahamian introvert. This was not the second nor third time I’ve been rejected for a job or work because of these qualities.
The company offered me another job in another department, so my skills and other personality qualities met the standard they want for their company, but had they expressed they needed an extrovert I would not have applied. To be clear - being introverted got me rejected for a job I was otherwise qualified for.
Truth be told, I’ve gotten over the fact that I’m not a bubbly or expressive person. Introverts usually don’t like their introversion, often wishing that they weren’t in order to thrive where they've been put. On my end, I will help you if I can, I will talk to you on every platform but in person, I will cheer you on and support you (even if you don’t do the same for me), and I’m generally interested in the success of each person I interact with. On the flip side, it takes draining amounts of mental energy to attend much less interact at social events, extend phone calls beyond 10 minutes, or sometimes leave the comfort of your room, among other things. I’ve accepted that these things are me, however I’ve noticed that they have no place where I live. You’re forced to adapt to survive.
Take the same interview for example - The interviewer had arranged for us to meet in a public lounge setting, which was already too many other variables for an introverted mind. It was a place I've never been before (yikes), with many people moving about (double yikes), and no privacy (triple yikes). Actually from when they said where they wanted to meet I wanted to holler out "NEVERMIND INE COMING!", but I had to push through because I really wanted to work for this particular company.
An interview in an office is more of a mental safe space where an introvert can get comfortable to focus on the interview. You may see other coworkers before reaching the space but there are four walls or a more controlled environment with just you and the interviewer or the panel that you can focus on. This lounge interview setting meant that I had to come into the public lounge, take a seat at one of the many tables and wait as people carried on their business around me, and then walk what felt like a mile from where I was waiting to where the interviews were being conducted. I was ok up until this point… but the mentally devastating moment happened while I was walking.
I looked to my right and saw a huddle of about 7 employees of the lounge all in their uniforms literally staring at me and not saying anything as I walked to the interview table. Picture a group of random strangers looking at you and following you with their eyes as you walk to your destination, without uttering a word (wtf wrong with Bahamians and watching people bey). I’m sure they knew interviews were being conducted, and probably were entertaining themselves by giving their rating on each candidate as each was seen. That minor detail in such a public setting distracted me to the core, and I’m sure my feeling of being utterly uncomfortable in the moments thereafter contributed in part to my rejection.
But, it’s The Bahamas! The land of service and smiles, where the majority of jobs and organizations cater to an extroverted crowd of people. The majority of jobs available in this country require heavy people interaction, and it’s no wonder, for example, some receptionists usually have a poor attitude. Every extroverted receptionist I know is a joy to interact with even if they’re having a rough day, while the “rude” or “bad” receptionist who may seem to be mad for no reason, probably because they’re introverted. (Yes I know some people are just rude) Think about it - the last thing you want to do is interact with people but you’re essentially forced to take this job as a low skilled worker with the only option of a client facing position, and subsequently have to pretend daily to keep the job. Imagine these people thriving in doing something that fits their personality rather than pissing you off today so you go post on HeadKnowles.
The Prime Minister of our country has been scoffed at thus far for a lack of speaking skills or lacking charisma, when in actuality I believe he is probably more introverted than extroverted (pure speculation I don't know him). As a person in one of the highest offices of our country, his success may not be secured as an introvert had the previous holder of the position not... well you know the rest. We as a people have been taught to gravitate toward the charismatic, the bubbly and the friendly.
If you’re not working in the bank, the hotel, in retail, or some other service, you’re in the other 5% in this country. This 5% is usually struggling to make it in a country that has no place for you. I’m willing to bet you’re in the shadows of the mainstream and you can’t use your passion to thrive in this country due to this fact. The core industries of this country depend heavily on a people that enjoy being friendly, are outspoken, and enjoy speaking to and interacting with people, while the rest are “where ya put me”.
Think about our nation's artists who often have introverted tendencies (hence expression of self through art), but are forced to adopt extroverted qualities in order to be considered successful in The Bahamas. Extroversion can be the deciding factor between grabbing the oyster of support in this country, or ending up with coal. Imagine a Bahamas with a supported art community, or we supported our scientists, our actors, our writers, etc. The balance would produce a Bahamas that has a place for everybody.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to thrive in The Bahamas with introverted qualities, because I know the #BrittleSpirits are already hammering out whatsapp comments to counter what I’m suggesting here. I know many introverts who have found a space in this market, but I do know that they’ve most likely had to conform to survive. At the end of the day, I would like to see more introverted qualities celebrated, rather than ostracized in the differentiation of our industries as we move toward creating a more inclusive society. Bye.
Read more from Gail at hwbe.info