Do you guys know your Meyers Briggs type? I'm an ENTJ, which stands for extraversion, intuition, thinking, and judgement.
Extraversion. I've taken a lot of different kinds of personality tests, and usually end up on the fence between an introvert and an extravert. I am drawn to extraverted people, I love being social, and social activities/meeting new people is an activity I build into my life on a regular basis.
On the other hand, determining whether you are an introvert or an extravert supposedly depends on whether you draw energy from socializing with others, or internally from spending time alone. I do get energized from meeting new people, but I also find it draining, and I need to work in alone time into my schedule so I can recharge. So, introvert or extravert?
Because I consistently score as an ENTJ on Myers Briggs, and because when it comes down to it, I want to be an extravert, that is usually what I go with. I was pretty shy as a kid, but luckily had a lot of friends who were naturally gregarious and social, and so I copied what they did, and that usually worked out. Then I started working in the non profit sector doing outreach, and networking pretty much became my job to the point that now, walking into a room full of strangers and inserting myself into their conversations doesn't even phase me. Usually.
Every once in a while though, I become that shy kid again. It happened last night. I had attended a party after work, and was going from said party to a benefit that my Running Buddy had been involved with. I was only going to make the last 25 minutes or so of the event, but had already made a donation, so really just wanted to show my support, then be on my way.
It was one of those rare Pittsburgh events where I didn't know anyone. ( I say rare because the degree of separation in Pittsburgh is about 1-1.5. Basically wherever you go you see someone you know. And if you don't know them yet, you've probably shared the same boss, partied with their sister, or dated the same person. Small town stuff. But I digress...) So, I knew Running Buddy obviously, but he was busy working the event, and we were only able to say hi and chat for a minute or two. There was also a friend of his working the event who I had met once, and said hi to, but she was busy with the Silent Auction.
So I wandered around a bit, looked at some art, smiled at strangers, and found myself standing at a table alone drinking a cup of coffee, and feigning interest in the silent auction winners being announced while playing Words With Friends on my phone (my username is hallingpreis btw if anyone wants to play).
"Go talk to some people," I thought to myself, "Just do it. Just go say hi. You do this all the time." And I just reallllly didn't want to. The event was a great success, everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves a lot, and I just didn't have the energy to introduce myself.
So you know what I did?
I picked up my bag, and I left. Just walked out the door. Sent Running Buddy a text saying I was sorry to hit and run, but had an early morning meeting and couldn't stay. And walking across the bridge back into downtown, I was all alone, and it was awesome.
It was so pleasant that I couldn't even feel guilty about leaving so soon, or feel like a child, or a failed extravert.
Sometimes I think the best part of being an adult but not quite grown up, is that you can quit when you want. Of course you should push and challenge yourself, and do something every day that scares you. BUT, sometimes, you just need to leave.
And that makes new opportunities, and risks, and relationships, and challenges a lot less frightening. Because you'll try it. Maybe you'll be great at it and love it, and maybe you won't. And the best part, is that you can always quit.