Last week and weekend, my team at work helped to host a big conference. As a team member, I had various duties throughout the conference. Giving directions, helping break out leaders get set up, and greeting attendees to the big general sessions. And after two and half days of that, I went home on Saturday afternoon exhausted.
It wasn’t really a physical kind of tired, though. I was craving quiet and time alone. I just wanted to sit and not talk to anyone. It wasn’t because I’m anti-social or worn out; it’s because I really, truly am an introvert.
If you’ve known me for awhile, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. People regard introverts as shy and meek—and at times in my life, I have been both. Having to be “on” all the time exhausts me. And when I withdraw to a quiet place to be by myself, it’s not usually because I’m mad or upset. It’s because it actually recharges me. I crave it the way extroverts crave crowds.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve long held on to this idea that being introverted was bad. I was a shy kid. I’m still quiet and reserved with people until I know them a little better. Sometimes, social small talk wigs me out. I’m not a huge fan of talking in front of large groups of people. But there have been duties in my job, life experiences, and relationships that have begun to work on some of those things. And I’ve learned that it’s not bad to be introverted; it’s just who I am. And understanding more about what it means to be introverted has helped me to know why I’m reacting in a certain way and find ways to contribute (at work, at least) that I would have shied away from in the past.
So, if you find me in a quiet moment and I’m not that chatty, it’s probably not because I don’t like you. 😉