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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