For a long time now, I’ve known that I’m an introvert but it wasn’t until last week while attending a party that I realized how it affects me. I had the awesome opportunity to attend a fabulous gender reveal party of a dear co-worker/friend. I knew that I really wouldn’t know anyone at the party and that it would be a lot of people but I wanted to support her nevertheless. As I approached the home, my heart began to race and I became nervous. Once I entered, I was in full anxious mode. You know the kind of mode where you become extremely socially awkward and say off the wall things. That’s all me!
Here’s one of the awkward conversations I had:
Lady: Hi, how do you know Anna (*name has been changed for privacy)
Me: She and I work together.
Lady: Oh, that’s nice. Well, I’m the mother-in-law.
Me: [Pause with a look of deep thought] Ok. So you’re the mother of her husband…
Lady: [Blank stare]
Me: [Holds head down and walks away]
I am notorious for saying the most random thing at the most random time. It’s my default in social situations. I get nervous and all of my thoughts seem to collide so I improvise…(obviously not a good practice).
I have longed to be the person invited to the best parties and when I arrive people would know me and I am able to mingle effortlessly. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. What actually happens is I may get an invite and when I arrive I try my best to blend into the walls while planning my exit. I always leave feeling bad about not socializing yet relieved that I no longer have to endure the discomfort.
On the flip side, I love to entertain and participate in small gatherings of mostly people I know. Believe it or not, I’m able to mingle effortless in this environment. It’s my comfort zone.
In my research, I’ve learned that what I’ve described is the nature of an introvert. I’ve realized that I don’t really want to be invited to big parties and huge conferences. It’s exhausting! Actually, it drains me when I’m looking at pics of people at these parties and conferences. It’s just not my thing. My thing is sitting in a Starbucks with one or a small group of friends indulging in stimulating conversation, laughing, and sharing stories. (My twin sister insists that I’m boring.)
At the same time, I can’t allow my introverted nature to hinder me in pursuing and reaching my goals. Networking is essential to the success of a business (my mom always says, “it’s all in who you know”) and quite frankly I’m horrible at it. If it were up to me, I would be home on my laptop or playing with my baby girl for fear of exposing my social awkwardness. I remember when I was a child hearing my mom say, “You know Tonya is anti-social!” It’s not that I was anti-social (though I can be at times…blame the introvert in me), I was afraid of making a complete fool of myself.
I recently read a blog post that offered some great suggestions on networking called 4 Low-Risk Strategies for Expanding Your Network . It was featured on a blog I follow called Quiet Revolution and it describes networking strategies for those of us who are introverts. I will definitely be implementing some of these suggestions as I continue to grow my network. Now, all I need is to find a blog post on “How Not to be Socially Awkward!”