11 June 2015

It's not always easy being... an extrovert

"It's fine for you Al, you're an extrovert!"

"It's fine for you Al, you love meeting people!"

"It's fine for you Al, you never shut up!"

Talk about damning with faint praise. It happens a lot.  Like every single time I say something will be "fun" because I have never got the memo advising me to stop with the endless enthusiasm for things that are new or different.  I am, at every level, a dork.

I don't mind generally.  Being an extrovert is essentially a community service and I'm big on giving back.  We all have our own small ways of contributing to the universe and being an ESFP is sometimes mine.

This week the gorgeous Kelly Exeter wrote a really useful article called 7 ways to kick ass at conferences when you're an introvert.  Useful in that I'm not an introvert and it's always great to see something from somebody else's perspective and it was delightfully written like all that she pens.

Kelly shared it in the ProBlogger event group and this is where things got daunting.  Judging by the comments, it turns out that every single person attending the event this year is an introvert.

Except me.*

You KNOW the definition of an extrovert is an outgoing, gregarious person; primarily concerned with physical and social environments; fond of directing our attention, interest and minds outwards to things or people outside the self.

Basically, we like people. And we genuinely enjoy the company of other people without needing a reason. An irritating trait I'm told but none-the-less highly sought after at parties.

The thing is my friends - extroversion is not necessarily about bucket loads of confidence, charisma or self esteem.  99%** of extroverts are just as f**ked up, insecure and chronically unsure as the next person.

It's just that we can't admit to it.  There are HORDES of introverts out there waiting for us to start conversations, or ask the dumb questions (an uncanny knack we have) or start the whooping at the back of the room.  Our duty is clear and there is no 'i' in extrovert.

Successful events rely TOTALLY on the chutzpah of extroverts to get the ball rolling.

And that can be terrifying.

Extroverts are not immune to the flushed cheeks of mortification or the happenstance of saying really dumb things to people.

Example 1: Mrs Woog now has a security team purely to deflect any future contact with me after she gave me a second chance and I was even more embarrassing than the first time. When I come within 50 metres of her good self they throw a blanket over her head, link hands around her in a protective circle and sing 'Kumbaya' until I get the hint and walk away.

Example 2: The first time I ever spoke to Darren Rowse I sounded like the Fonz trying to pick up one of the ladies. In fact, I think I even primped my collar and I was in a cami-top.  Thankfully he just smiled kindly, albeit warily, at me while I morphed my nervous tics into an interpretive dance and fled to the toilets to pat cold water on my burning cheeks.

The cubicles were full and after Kelly's article I now know why.

The point is - it's not always easy being the extrovert because people make assumptions that are versions of incorrect, very wrong and not right. We extroverts, like everybody else at the same event as you, are just trying to find a tribe.

However we are more likely to say HASHTAG tribe because it's cray cray and hilaire.  And unerringly annoying.

It is no less difficult to front up to an event like ProBlogger, with extroversion on your side. Our sole advantage is that we like social environments because we get to bounce off the energy of all the amazing people we meet.

But first, we need to find somebody that will talk to us and I can tell you from our side there is NOTHING more intimidating than the cool reserve of a seasoned introvert.  Do you know how much introversion just looks like A PERSON THAT HAS ALL THEIR SHIT TOGETHER?

Imagine several hundred of you.  Exactly.  No wonder I'm in therapy.

So my earnest plea to all you dear dear introverts is this. That noise you hear when you enter a room full of people? That thrum of conversation and white noise that sounds like connection and bonhomie? Tis naught but a cacophony of extroverts using bravado and bullshit to make their way around the room hoping that somebody, anybody will reply.

We love people.  It doesn't mean you don't terrify us.  For the love of Colin, be kind.

Talk back. Please.

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*   No, I never exaggerate. Except when I do.
** Never quote my stats.  I make them up.

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