By Mari Megias
November 21, 2017
“Having slides makes me less anxious, so if you have questions, please raise your hand!”
This is how Morra Aarons Mele MC/MPA 2008 started off her talk to a group of HKS students in the Taubman Building one chilly fall evening in November. At this event, co-sponsored by the offices of Alumni Relations and Career Services, Aarons Mele described her personal journey through anxiety and how she was driven to write a book that, as she puts it, “would be the companion I never had.”
“When I came to HKS, I seemed successful on the outside. But I was in clinical depression,” says Aarons Mele, whose first book, Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert's Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), was published in September by HarperCollins. “I wanted this book to be the companion I never had,” says the self-described hermit-entrepreneur.
She relayed some common concerns of introverts who struggle with anxiety. “If you’re feeling anxious and under pressure to speak, you’re taught to overcome that fear, to keep talking, to jump in,” she says. “I talked way too much when I was at HKS because I was so anxious. But the amazing thing about people like me is that we are attuned to the feelings in the room. If we can get over our anxiety, our fear of not fitting in—if we can get out of that and take a step back and tune into how others feel, we will be incredible. We will connect with people and solve their problems.”
Aarons Mele is the founder of Women Online, a strategic communications firm that she runs from her home office outside Boston. Reaching female audiences with a unique blend of traditional and digital public relations and marketing, Women Online helps organizations and brands achieve their goals with female customers.
“If I had one dream for this book,” she says, “it’d be that people look at those who work from home as being equally as ambitious as those who are in the office always glad-handing. The book is about getting in touch with who you are and what you want to do every day—not what your overachiever self says you want to do.”