I am an introvert. No, I am not about to launch into an online confessional and this is not a session of Introverts Anonymous. Simply stated, given a choice, I will stay in my quiet space among my small group of loved ones and not venture far outside of that. I have avoided years-worth of office Christmas parties and was always the one being hunted down to join in the festivities.
The energy it takes to make small talk with people that I share nothing in common with is too much for me. What little bit of extrovert I had for each day’s activities was literally spent in just the half hour that I stayed at the festivities. What a Scrooge, I know.
I made a goal late last year to be more accommodating of others wanting me to be a part of their celebrations. I attended at least six parties or celebrations in the last two months that I previously would have avoided. Not only did I go and greet everyone but I also stayed, fighting the flee response my body was giving me every half hour.
Thankfully, the party season is over and I can shift my focus away from such things. However, the lessons learned will stay with me. They are these:
- You will possibly enlarge your network. Unless, of course, these are the people who like to look at your contact list.
- You may learn a new skill — catching a pingpong ball after one of your team mates has hurled it into the air is great for hand-eye coordination. Not to mention the teambuilding.
- You may see others in a different light. Perhaps a redeeming quality will show itself when they least expect it. Or maybe you will find that your perceptions were wrong all along.
- You may actually enjoy yourself. Human interaction can be satisfying; and who knew so-and-so from engineering was so funny. Keeping an open mind and a good attitude makes all the difference.
I do have some way to go, especially since I am at this very moment thinking of how I can avoid a party that starts in one hour. That aside, this is a goal that I have reached several times since declaring it a goal. It is something that will continue to be a struggle for me. But I will dip my toe into the extrovert pool again and again knowing that when I jump right in, my introvert head will bob high above the surface, safely away from too much fun and engagement.
Nicole Napuunoa is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.