No matter how much I resist, I am always better off when I step out of my comfort zone.
Let's take a few conferences I recently attended. The sessions were valuable but, by far, the greatest benefits came outside of the sessions. The greatest benefits always come through interactions with others.
- at dinner in Chinatown when you realize you haven't been playing as big as you could.
- at the Big Bar when you are introduced by one Canadian HR powerhouse to another and know you've just met the real deal.
- in the lobby of the hotel looking for the evolution and meet two other women looking for the same.
- in conversation with an amazing couple over wine and risotto.
- over pannenkuchen in Rochester, Minnesota.
- in meeting an email connection in real life right before a conference session.
It's all about making a difference yet the times of greatest benefit also present the greatest challenges for me. Introversion is the yin to my social media yang.
After the initial rush of seeing friends and the new conference high wear off, it is painfully clear to me that I really am a small group kind of girl. Walking into a large social event, even when I know many of the people there, freaks me out. When the momentum stops and I am given pause, I am looking for the door as fast as I can.
It's crazy. And I've let it define my path, my choices and what I see as my options. The more I try to change, the more firmly planted I become. I tend to surround myself with card-carrying extroverts because I am drawn to them and really, how else would I ever get out of the house? Try as they might (or maybe they don't see it to try), they don't understand. Even those closest to me don't always understand.
Sometimes, neither do I.