Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A day in the mind of an introvert

The bloggers I follow publish two posts a day, giving the reader more of a day-in-the-life account, describing the day’s activities, including all the dirty details on anything from meals to workouts to their pregnancy symptoms. 

While I love reading these to learn random tips, recipes and advice, incorporating that style into this blog doesn’t really appeal to me right now (plus, it'd be pretty boring). 

However, I thought it would be fun (for me, at least) to do a  day-in-the-mind post recounting one of the many sets of thoughts running through the back of my mind at all times, starting with my extreme introverted - aka terrified-of-people - thoughts:

Waking up

“Perfection would be to grab my laptop, plop on the couch and work from home all day communicating through email only.”

Reality check – Race out to the bus to sit way too close to too many strangers for 35 way-too-long minutes to join the bustling herds downtown.

Arriving downtown and power walking through the skyway to get to the office

“Why is that person looking at me like that…and that one…how crazy is my hair right now...why did that person smile at me…do I have to acknowledge him …not going to…OK, almost there, just keep looking straight ahead.”
An older lady slowly comes up behind me as I pass through a door and hold it just long enough for her to touch it.
‘Thank you so much,’ she exclaims as I give her a brief smile.
“Really? You couldn’t even muster ‘You’re welcome’ or ‘No problem?’ What is wrong with you?”

Arriving at my desk

“Yay! I have a long to-do list to get through, and it only requires me, Google and Excel. I can happily do this all day. Besides, I just made small talk in the break room for five minutes while filling my water bottle, so I need a recharge.”


“Just be cool. You know these people now….see, this is going great…OK, your turn to talk….OK, rushed but good….your boss is making eye contact with you…look back…look back…Now stop -  you’re creeping her out. Hey, this is actually kind of fun, and these people are smart. Pay attention!”

Passing a co-worker on the way to the restroom

“Smile or greeting? Smile or greeting? Smile or greeting? Too late. She just said ‘Hi’ and ‘How are you?’ Good answer….nice banter…OK, good save - now move along before you embarrass yourself.”
Lunch at my favorite spot in the skyway

 “Remember to speak up when you order. Yes, your voice is annoying, but if you say it loud the first time, no one has to hear it grow shriller as you repeat it three times. Now I have to wait with all of these other people? Am I supposed to make more small talk because we like the same deli? Those guys over there are. OK…a short comment about the cookies here…good enough. Now leave me alone, lady. That’s my order being called – saved!”

After lunch
A meeting ends and turns into a casual non-work related conversation, and I for some reason start talking a mile a minute, enjoying the discussion and opportunity to get to know my co-workers on a more personal level.

"OK...I'm talking too much...I feel I the only one in here who's hot? Am I sweating? Crap, I'm definitely sweating. Can they tell? We've been in here an extra 15 minutes. Conversation. Must. Stop. Now."

The rest of the afternoon = alone time with my computer = recharge.

Waiting for the bus to go home

“Please don’t be too crowded, please don’t be too crowded….great. It’s late and over-crowded. Why do I take the bus again?” I then proceed to whip out my Kindle and look at nothing else until we reach my stop. “Free at last!”

After a quick workout with Jillian and a few minutes with my three loves - OK, four, since I eat too – I am headed to my shift at the gym.

“Please just don't let any unreasonably outraged members yell at me tonight."

I then spend the next couple of hours checking in the after-work rush with a huge smile on my face, the phone consistently attached to my ear and a pleasant tone in my voice. These people are here to work out, and they deserve to be greeted by someone who is excited they’re there, and I am honestly happy for them and want to help them stay motivated. That doesn’t mean I want to have lengthy conversations with them. 

“What did he just say? I don’t understand…just laugh…yep, that usually works. Next one. This girl is funny….OK, TMI. TMI! I don’t know you!! Move along. Love this couple - they're so funny…good’s my turn to make a clever remark……I’ve got nothing…awkward silence...and move on. Oh, here comes the sales manager with his newest guest. Now I have to join in this overly friendly conversation without coming off as a phony. Did I really just laugh like that?”

When the masses die down I have a few minutes to talk about weekend plans with my co-workers. 

“Oh, you spend every weekend out and about in cramped spaces surrounded by people in quantities too large for me to want to be in a stadium with? Nice. 
I have one social outing planned, and then I am looking forward to some quality quiet time at home. So I will really talk up that one dinner I’m going out to.”

As closing time approaches, I have some real conversations with a few members I’ve actually gotten to know before kicking them all out and driving home excited to go to bed, exhausted not because it’s late but because I just spent a lot of time with a lot of people. And I’m going to do it all again tomorrow. “Yay.”

OK, is this a little exaggerated? Yes - but not as much as you're probably hoping it is (for my sake). What can I say? Send me up in front of a huge audience to give a speech or on a week-long trip with my closest girlfriends, and I have no problem. But send me to a house party or a mix-and-mingle networking event, and I can give you a long list of horrible things I'd much rather put myself through.

I love deep conversations with people I know well and interviewing people I don't know well to learn more about a new topic/event/theory/you-name-it, but at the end (or middle..or beginning) of the day, I prefer to be alone with my thoughts. And I am more than OK with that. I've tried to change this part of me, but I have realized the one thing I won't be is fake.

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