Introversion and Conferences

I am an introvert, in fact I’m just about as introverted as the tests can test. I hate small talk, I really don’t enjoy meeting new people, and when I’m out of my element, I’m painfully shy. I am the most comfortable when I have responsibilities where I have something to do at a gathering because wandering and finding someone to talk to is often paralyzing in an unstructured setting.

Are you surprised?

So many people I meet express surprise when I tell them that I’m an introvert.

Introversion is often misunderstood and is about energy. People who are extroverted, generally, get their energy from being around people. For us introverts, being around people is draining. Like really draining. Like need to go home and change into pajamas immediately draining.

When I was practicing law, I went to a lot of legal conferences. I went to learn. That was my focus. I didn’t do much socializing and usually skipped the social parts of the conference. When I went to networking events, I had specific goals, and I went with the goal of collecting business cards or making specific connections.

Now, when I go to conferences, I go with one of my goals to socialize, to meet people. Yes, learning is still in the mix, especially when I go to conferences that are focused on breast cancer research, but the conferences that I attend now are about making connections that could potentially save my life.

Those are pretty high stakes, but what it does for me is focuses my energy. I set my expectations and when I’m focused, I can be intense. That’s how I balance my introversion and conferences. There is value to be obtained and I’m laser focused on what I need to obtain or learn or leave with.

How do you mesh your personality with activities?

Are there activities that are harder or easier for you?

20 thoughts on “Introversion and Conferences

  1. I’m really far on the bell curve of introversion, too. We can be extremely laser focused. I like your strategy of having a goal to focus on. I often think just socializing is a waste of time. But good can come out of just connecting with people and their experiences sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! For me, it’s all about the goal. If the goal is to gain another friend just for the sake of having more, then I’m out. If the goal is accessing care and/or getting answers for me or someone else, I’m 100% on board. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Interesting, Abigail, but not surprising. And the way you’ve described your motivation not only makes perfect sense, but also may well be empowering to others who recognize themselves through your description (if they didn’t already know).
      Are you familiar with Susan Cain, a self-described introvert who gives Ted Talks on the topic and wrote a book called “The Quiet Mind’? You can view her talks on YouTube.
      A fellow blogger who wrote about her own introversion led me to Cain. Based on Cain’s descriptions, I believe I’m an ambivert—part this, part that.
      Self-knowledge invariably has the potential to be empowering. And more power to ya!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m an introvert too. Except when I was working. I guess, like you say, it was having the goals that helped me be “out there” but I still wasn’t good at small talk or the social aspect of work. Weekends were often spent alone and I liked it. A friend said that’s when I replenished myself from the week of having to be “out there”. I live alone and have very few close friends that I spend time with but I am so not lonely. Having MBC seems to have given me the OK to stay an introvert. I’m enjoying getting to know more about the inner me and just…being…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Me too. I learned to be an extroverted introvert working human resources. Forced to speak first and lead meetings. Yuck. The center of attention. Introverts are misunderstood and even misidentified often. We force ourselves and fool others at times. A goal brings me out in the light. Sometimes I’ve hated being an introvert but mostly I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Abigail,

    Oh gosh, as an introvert, I sure relate to this one. I used to think introverts were less than somehow, but not anymore. I still think society in general, thinks more highly of extroverts, though why, I’m not entirely sure. I agree about having specific goals to focus on when pushing oneself to attend conferences or whatever the case might be.

    I just ordered the book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain. Looking forward to reading it. I should write a post on this topic sometime too. I’m glad you wrote this one. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Quiet is a great book!! I’m amazed at how much the strengths of extroverts are prioritized above the strengths of introverts. Instead of telling introverts we need to be more like extroverts, perhaps it would be better to encourage extroverts to be more like us. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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