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?