Many of you know that I am an introvert, I don't think that's a huge secret. I've been thinking a lot about how I got this way, what the implications are and how people perceive me as a result of what I wrongly consider a character flaw.
Much like other personality characteristics, I think it ebbs and flows. There are times when I crave interaction, and times (more frequently) when I retreat and want to be alone or with just family. I've said before how being around others seems to energize some people, for me it is more of a drain. That DOES NOT mean I don't want to be around people, because I do. I'm just saying that while it's fun, and I love talking and laughing with people, typically it requires a significant recovery period of alone/family time. Put in back-to-back social events and I'm likely holed up for a week after. Energize me it does not.
I think back to my first and last sleepover as a kid, when I was about 10 years old. I got homesick about 9:00 and had to have my mom come and get me. My son, on the other hand, would probably be happy to have a sleepover every night. Why the difference? He's flesh and blood, shouldn't he be like me? Evidently not. Am I the weird one, or is he? I say me, again wrongly, as neither of us are weird. (Quiet you!)
The weird thing is I do enjoy talking to people. My wife would argue that I'm coming out of my shell more as I age, and I think it's true. Why is it then, that if I see someone I know in the grocery store I'll switch aisles? Nine times out of ten, if I talk to them I end up really enjoying it. Why the initial fear and avoidance? I can't tell you. All I can do is ask forgiveness. It's something only another introvert can appreciate and, hey, I'm working on it, OK? For years I've been trying to "cure" myself of these "weird" tendencies. Maybe more exposure will help, I think to myself. Well, it hasn't happened in the last 50 years, I doubt it's going to in the next 50. Please don't hold it against me.
Another example was my first concert. I can remember loving The Electric Light Orchestra so much that I thought I am going to the concert whether I can get anyone to go with or not. I tried a couple of people and no one wanted to go. So I went alone. It was awesome, but I was the weird kid who went alone. I've done that at other music venues, because I'm a music lover and rather than drag someone to something that they don't want to go to, I go alone. Weird? Maybe, but I'm OK with it.
At our ESRI Conference every year, I dread the opening day when they tell everyone to turn to your neighbor and introduce yourself. Oh God, not that again. The thing is, I always come away having met someone who's interesting and, often times, from a far away place. Why, then, the initial dread? I dunno. It sucks and, like I said, I'm working on it. Help me out here.
My brother Rob was an incredibly social person. Loved people. Looked forward to being around people. People energized him. You had to drag him away from parties. The difference in me is that I do not necessarily look forward to being around people, but when you get me there, sometimes you have to drag me away from the party. This is because I love talking to people, its the thought of talking to people that I dread. Does that make sense? What is that about? Where does that come from?
In grade school I was voted runner-up as "most shy." I was always a bit of a loner. Loved having friends (mostly my brothers' friends) over to my house, but didn't like going to theirs. So, evidently it's been with me for life. Again, those of you that know me know
Tonight I was at a party with old friends and co-workers. (Thanks Brad and Donna!) Despite being apprehensive about not knowing anybody (not true), and dreading going, (as I always do), it turned out I had a GREAT time talking to people. Again, much worry and dread for naught. Wasted energy. I talked about fishing, biking, writing, football, life and death. Why would anyone dread that? Yet I do. And I always end up a better person for having gone out of my comfort zone, going and talking...to people like you.
So that's where I'm coming from. I don't mean to slight you when it seems I'm slighting. It's just my makeup; it's how I tick. Don't hold it against me, cuz I love you man. Even if I'm switching aisles as a way of showing it.