I’m a friendly person. When I’m in a professional setting, I’m in the zone: totally comfortable and able to make small talk like a champ at the water cooler and in meetings.
Put me in a purely social setting though, and I look for the nearest animal to pet/baby to hold to avoid interacting with other adult humans.
Parties? Nope. They just are’t my thing. I enjoy people a couple at a time, and I have great close friendships, but large groups freak me right out.
Fun for me is being home, snuggling my kiddo and my fur baby and watching a flick or reading a good book.
The slightly odd thing is that I absolutely LOVE presenting at conferences. And prior to being a conference presenter, I was a software trainer. Put me on a stage in front of 500 people and I am completely comfortable. Put me in an after party with those same 500 people an hour later, and I’ll be looking for the nearest exit to escape and go hide in my car. (Seriously, at one conference I picked up my lunch and went and hid in my car for an hour and blasted music to recover and mentally prepare to socialize some more.) It’s not that I don’t like people, I do. Being in a large group setting just sucks me dry emotionally and energy wise. Extroverts are energized by crowds of people, introverts are drained by them. It’s not anyone’s “fault,” it’s just a thing.
People don’t believe me at first when I tell them I’m introverted, because I’m very friendly, and tend to smile a bunch. I love meeting new people a couple at a time, it’s just big social events that make me want to flee. So If you see me on stage looking all comfortable, and then see me at an after party hiding in the corner sucking down a dirty vodkatini, don’t be alarmed. It’s my usual, and I fully own it. 🙂
It took me YEARS to finally realize that being an introvert isn’t “wrong.” It’s absolutely fine. I don’t like crowds. You don’t like being on stage. I love steak. You think it’s gross. You like hiking. I prefer chilling on the beach. Everyone is different. There is no “right” way to be. Just be you: introvert, extrovert or a mixture of the two.
And you know what? I’m not the only introverted conference speaker! There are tons of us! You’d be amazed at how many conference speakers are self identified introverts!
So to all of my fellow introverts: if you have something to share with your industry, get out there and submit some presentation proposals! You can always skip the social events if you need a break to recharge. And if we wind up at the same conference, and in the same corner at the after party, I’ll buy you a drink. We’ll both probably need one. 🙂