My introvert inclination toward a social event involving more than a few friends is to search for a polite excuse.
I don’t dislike people. I just find large numbers of them gathered in one place somewhat overwhelming. This is especially true when I don’t know most of them. My store of casual chit-chat is rapidly depleted during the “social hour,” often leaving me and my partner in conversation stranded in a stupor of inanity, both (for different reasons) searching for rescue.
So, you could reasonably expect that I might stutter and stammer and run a hundred miles from a public speaking event. However, I do not. The reason? I have a secret that I suspect other introverts share. I am a situational extrovert. Despite my introvert nature, when I’m asked to take center stage, when it’s my role to be the focus of attention, my inner performer rises to the fore.
I’ve guested at book clubs, library events, and a book festival and have enjoyed them all. That’s not to say I approach such events with the ease of an extrovert who can’t wait to start talking to strangers. I have to gear myself up for it, but once I do, I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille. It’s the situation that pulls out the extrovert in me.
Now, I wouldn’t do well with a steady schedule of parties and public speaking. An extrovert is thrilled by the anticipation of a gathering of people, and somewhat sad when it’s over. For me, the pleasure of mingling is heightened by the knowledge that a blissful retreat to peace and silence awaits when the event is finished. But I do like the occasional outing.
Every time I accept an invitation to speak, I meet interesting people, some of whom become friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. At one of the first talks I gave, I reconnected with two women from different work areas of my life that I hadn’t seen in years. That led to a renewed connection which has been very nice. It never would have happened if I hadn’t let my usually dormant extrovert side out of the box for an evening.
So, the moral of this story is, we’re not all one thing or the other, neither absolute extroverts nor immutable introverts. There is some of each in all of us, and it’s good sometimes to try a different way of walking in the world.