Professional networking is my personal hell

If there is one thing I’ve learned from people I know who have found new career opportunities, it’s that those opportunities have come to them through a connection they’ve made. I have heard no less than 2 people in the last month say, “This just kind of fell in my lap.”

WHAT?! HOW?!!!!

My lap covers some territory, and I’m not over here catching any specks of good fortune on the career front.

My stepmom always says, “You have to get in front of the right people.”

Well, shit.

I don’t exactly love being in front of people or being the center of attention. My most comfortable state is completely alone, anonymous, observing rather than participating. I recently took a personality test that put me at 86% Introvert and only 14% Extrovert. Basically, 14% of the time I want to be with other humans, and that sounds…uh…correct.

When I’m not at work, you might find me watching TV or reading a book alone. I prefer to run errands alone. I prefer to shop alone, and am often reminded of this whenever I invite a friend to the mall with me because I’ve forgotten how much I dislike shopping with other people. I go to yoga alone and speak to no one except when I give the teacher my name at the front desk.

My dudes and dudettes, this level of introversion is not a joke.

Harrison used to ask me, “Is this really all you’re going to do tonight?” as he leaves me on the couch with a book or a very deep Netflix queue on a Friday night to go to (probably) a comedy show or open mic. Then he stopped asking because my answer was always, “YES.”  Harrison spends a lot of evenings out at open mics, so our relationship has been incredibly accommodating. Some might say enabling.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I have a new friend who is constantly inviting me to get involved in things despite her own innate inclination to stay home. And as much as I don’t want to, I know I need to.

I spent the last two evenings at engagements geared toward young professionals with her. One of them is actually a choir, and I’m legit excited about that. I loved singing in choirs when I was younger, and at least I’m in a room with people working toward a common goal. The singing part I can handle, but the conversing with fellow singers is the hard part.

The other event was a happy hour for young professional at a fancy hotel bar and um, it was the worst.

First of all, I’m not fancy, and I always feel out of place in those environments. I own exactly one blazer that I think I’ve worn exactly twice. At a young professionals happy hour, you better bring your blazer. I am also THE MOST AWKWARD. I’m bad at starting conversations, and I am really terrible and feigning interest in things that I find absolutely dull. I wear my heart on my face. Eye contact with strangers? Lol. Please. I usually find myself following around the one person I know trying to interject myself in their conversations and doing a very bad job of it.

Introversion is not a condition that needs to be cured, but damn it’s hard to be an introvert in a world that places so much value the charismatic and gregarious over the quiet observers.

I’ll just be over here…tired from all the people-y stuff I’ve had to do and wishing I were at home.

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Via GIPHY

 

Tips for Extroverts with Introvert Friends

I recently read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Reading this book was like reading about myself. Why do I get so burnt out? Why do I have such a hard time taking on other commitments outside of work, especially commitments involving people? Why do I love the days when the weather quiets the city and keeps people indoors? Why do I get so annoyed when I’m interrupted in the middle of a task at work? Why am I risk-averse? I am an introvert.

This book was incredibly validating. It even gave me some insight as to why some relationships in my life can sometimes feel strained without any fault on either side being at fault. I deeply value people who are more on the extroverted side of the spectrum because without them, I would probably miss out of a lot of great experiences. At the same time, my alone time is of serious importance for me. It’s how I recharge. It’s how I process a problem I’m having or destress. I don’t want to be pressured out of that time. I also don’t want to upset a friend by turning down an invitation. Let’s be real—invitations. Plural. It isn’t personal. I just need a little less stimulation. I came up with a list of tips based on my own experiences for extroverts who have introverted friends. Obviously, communication on both sides is very important, but I can only speak from my perspective. So, here we go.

1. It’s not personal.

I just said this, but I feel like this is worth restating. Not wanting to participate in a particular activity doesn’t mean we don’t like you, or that we’re mad at you. It probably means we need a break.

2. No means no.

Seriously though. We’re adults. Why are we still peer pressuring each other? If your introvert friend says, “no, thank you” to an invitation, I can assure you we are not looking for you to show us how bad you want us to go by begging obnoxiously. Another thing Cain points out in “Quiet” is that introverts is that we feel a higher level of guilt than others. Sure, if you beg us, we’ll probably go, but we won’t be happy about it. We’ll probably be a little annoyed with you, too.

3. Give us a minute.

A few years ago, Harrison and I took a trip to Arizona with his family. Five days… in a timeshare… with my mother-in-law… who is, um, long-winded. The first day I was back in Denver, a friend of mine immediately started to talk to me about weekend plans, and I’m pretty sure I snapped at her, which I immediately felt bad about. I didn’t understand why I did that. The truth is, I had reached my limit. Being presented with an invitation to partake in further human interaction was too much. I needed some time to recharge before making more plans, and I needed my friend to back off. Just for a little while.

4. We are bad multi-taskers.

This was a huge epiphany for me because I have thought for the longest time that I multi-task like a pro. That was incorrect. I’m just efficient, and I know how to prioritize multiple tasks and go back and forth between them. Since I read this book, I started to understand why my stress level gets as high as it does. For example, I have Skype for Business at work. This if, of course, rarely used for business. Sometimes chatting with co-workers is a great way to get through the day, but if I have too much work to get done, and I have co-workers trying to chat with me, I start to get really anxious about all of the directions I’m being pulled in. So, I ignore the blinking Skype box.

5. We know what we need.

I was going through a bit of a rough patch recently. I was sad, stressed out, unhappy with my job…all of it. A friend kept asking me to do things, and I kept saying that I just wanted to stay home and not be around people. She replied that it sometimes helps to do “low-key” things with people when you’re stressed. I’m pretty sure I wanted to throw my phone at that moment. I had just stated what I wanted—what I felt I needed at the moment, and she questioned that. I understand the inclination toward offering solutions to “fix” a problem, and that it takes an especially enlightened person to understand that most of the time, that is not possible. In a lot of cases, the best thing you can do is say, “That sucks. I’m sorry. Please let me know if you need anything.” This doesn’t only apply to an extrovert/introvert friendship. It applies to basically everyone. If someone tells you they need something, who are you to think you know better what that actually need? I know I’ve probably done this to people, too. And I am deeply sorry for that. I’

6. Calling us misanthropic might hurt our feelings.

Introverts are not misanthropes. This is about stimulation not any individual or group of people. If you read this blog or know me personally, you know I have an affinity for yoga. I know some people find yoga strange because it’s a workout with an ideology attached. But that ideology is one of loving yourself and others. I take that seriously. I believe all humans are valuable. Everyone has something to offer. Accusing someone of essentially being hateful toward others just because they recharge by being alone is rude, hurtful, and incorrect.

For these relationships to work, each side has to try to meet the other where they’re at, which is difficult. Introverts have to set boundaries for their own self-care, but also be willing to get out of their comfort zones sometimes. There might be a cool experience waiting on the other side of that comfort zone. Extroverts have to respect boundaries and be willing to back off sometimes. Sometimes, we just need different things.

While you’re out there, I’ll be in here

Here are all the things I’ll be doing this weekend while everyone else is getting hammered in a crowded, shitty bar in face paint that is flaking off or wearing a costume five other people are also wearing.

 

  • Not waking up hungover.

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  • Yoga and maybe more yoga.

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  • Watching Will & Grace on Hulu. I’m on the last season.

  • Watching the new season of Stranger Things.

  • Reading a good book.

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  • Maybe I’ll watch Hocus Pocus. That movie’s rad.

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  • And basically not leaving my apartment except during daylight hours. Maybe.

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Happy weekend before Halloween. Be safe out there!

 

 

I did a thing.

I did something yesterday, which I will be able to share with all of you very soon. I learned some stuff while doing this thing:

1)      The bar for being a writer is very low (thanks, Internet), so if people are going to call me a writer, I better step up my game. I never studied journalism or English in school, and I’ve only done a few incredibly basic writing jobs in my life. I am far from excellent at this, but I really really want to be an excellent and interesting blogger. That is a perplexing statement, I realize.

2)      There is a reason I use the Internet as my platform. Coherently formulating thoughts while talking to another human is not my strong suit. I like barriers. Again, thanks Internet.

3)      I’ve really done a lot of random shit in my life, and I have no idea which thing I’ll end up sticking with. I might even try something else altogether. Who knows?

4)      In order to make this interesting and turn it into a conversation instead of a spewing of my idiotic thoughts, that for some reason, a few people have taken an interest in, I need a favor from all of you. If you like anything you read here, please tell a friend or five. Please tell me what you’re interested in. What do you want to hear about? What do you want to know about me? (Keep it non-weird please). This is something I started in order to give myself an outlet to say whatever I want and to feel a little less restricted, but if I can make someone’s day better, that makes it completely worth it. I might bitch about stuff a lot, but I really am a nice person.

Now, while you wait for the thing I did, here’s a four minute mashup of cat videos.