Diary of an Introvert: Conference Edition


March 2019

Day 1: Cross-country Travel

Energized and ready to start a new adventure. I make it my mission in life to be as sweet as possible to every airport employee. I’m sure they have more than their share of nasty people. It’s not the fault of the person behind the counter that there was snow in Detroit that delayed your flight or that the plane’s crew got stuck in traffic.

I stopped to help a mom traveling alone with a toddler and an infant. Her little girl couldn’t get the sippy cup out of the backpack side pocket, so I pulled out the cup, helped remove the lid and fill it with delicious airport tap water. A little fluoride never hurt anyone. Introverts tend to be highly conscientious.

Although people may not be aware as they cram through the stanchions guiding us to the jetway, we will all get on the plane and we will all make it to our destination. I’m not going to fight you to scan my phone first only to stand in line 20 feet later in an unsupported hallway leading to the plane’s door that is inevitably too hot or too cold.

The primary demonstration of my introversion waits until the last few minutes before takeoff to peek out. I’m usually one of the first people to board the main seating area and my inward prayer is simply that I do not sit by a chatter. That’s all I ask. A quiet ride where I have my choice of sleeping, watching a movie, or reading one of the books I’ve had on my phone for way too long. 

Thanks to the continued loss of airline features for those of us purchasing the cheap seats I was not able to pre-select my seat and ended up in the middle. It’s not as bad as I anticipated. No one spoke to me for 6 hours, I slept, and all was right in the world.


Day 2: First Day on Site

The introvert’s invisible wall of protection is a very real thing and it’s most useful when meeting new people and entering situations with a lot of unknown variables. My wall can go up and down fairly quickly and I always keep it handy.

Prior to the start of the first conference session a large majority of people are milling about in the room with all the coffee, snacks, and book tables. Although a top goal was to connect with as many people as possible I scan the room to find that most people are already in their cliques. I’m okay with being awkward because I feel like it’s a common thread throughout my life, but I decide to try to play it cool for a few hours and not invite myself into any random conversations with strangers.

Following chats with representatives at all the great booths who have services and products that I either want to use or want to work for, weaving in and out of crowds all day, sitting in the front row of a workshop session, not having time to grab coffee, and making sure my RBF is mildly pleasant, my mind is toast and I’m completely drained. What I really need is an empty hotel room, Netflix reruns, and my phone on silent for at least six hours. So I settle for a short chat with my mom, then do my best to catch a mediocre night’s sleep on a hotel bed before it starts all over.


Day 3: I’ve Got This

Settling into a rhythm, I slide through the day. I meet at least one person in each workshop, hoping to make one of those long-term connections where you can’t believe you ever survived without each other. Everyone at this workshop is a church planter and I’m fascinated by the diversity of each person’s vision and heart for their city. 

The finale is bittersweet. Just as I’m finding my stride and starting to connect with some of the people I intended to meet, the whole thing is over. Immediately I find regret for all the conversations I did have, then simultaneously I crave the solitude of my typical mornings when I am the only one awake and the house is perfectly silent.

---------------

My heart can never make up it’s mind. I love people, I love working in team and learning through interaction and relationship. In order to enjoy all of those, I must have a balance of time alone. The very thing I love is also what drains me.

In my nearly 40 years I’ve learned to live in that tension. I love being an introvert and honestly, I kind of like that I’m confusing to other people. It’s like a little game I get to play that constantly keeps them guessing. They’ll never figure it out.