Are you a Closet Introvert?
I am a closet introvert. Several years ago I came out of the closet and admitted to myself that I could no longer act like an extrovert all of the time without paying a penalty. That penalty was damaging to my health.
If you met me in person, you would never know that I am an introvert. I spent much of my tech career as a geek that could speak or articulate technoweenie. This went well until I hit my 50s when staying in character as an extrovert became exhausting.
I have learned that if I want to continue to speak publically – which I really enjoy – and network with people, I need to meter my energy.
Repurpose Your Career Book Launch
I had a lot of practice with this fact this last month with the book launch of Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life – Third Edition.
Over a two and a half week period, I spoke to 6 job clubs in 5 different cities in 3 different states. I also held 3 different meet-and-greets in 3 different cities and states. In the middle of this, I attended my 45th high school reunion in New Jersey. This required that I be “on” a lot, which simply sucks the life out of me.
I know I am not alone in being a closet introvert.
Scheduling My Restorative Niches
The term restorative niches come from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It is scheduling activities into your day that restore you. This is particularly important when you will be included in activities that “suck the life out of you”. Just being around people and interacting with them over long periods of time is one of those “suck the life out of you” activities for me.
The month was full of “suck the life out of you” activities.
I am a big outdoors guy, and I really enjoy listening to podcasts and audiobooks. It is very important for me to make sure to set aside time to go outside and listen to something soothing and fun. I scheduled this into my day.
I tried to schedule events where I had at least one day between events. This was true except for the last 2 presentations in Pennsylvania where I spoke in Philadelphia on Monday evening and them King of Prussia the following morning. The saving grace was that we stayed in King of Prussia, PA, which offered us beautiful countryside and excellent weather. That helped a lot.
Scheduling these restorative niches into my days was imperative to keeping my energy up.
I have learned over the years if I am going to be around a lot of people, I need to block out time before and after to be by myself or with a small group of people that I enjoy.
I spoke to the Professional Service Group of Mercer County on Friday in Princeton. Arriving in Princeton Thursday afternoon and spending the entire afternoon checking out the venue and exploring downtown Princeton was a very restorative afternoon. It left me prepared for the very long day the followed. Besides presenting to the job club and selling books afterward, I was interviewed by Andy Levine for the Second Act Stories podcast. This meant I was “on” for 6-7 hours which is exhausting.
I then spent the next few hours having lunch by myself, then walking around the community some more before meeting a former client for dinner.
Time blocking is imperative for me to maintain my energy levels.
High School Reunion
I graduated from East Brunswick High School in 1974 and went off to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. Returning to New Jersey did not happen very often. I did go to my 25th high school reunion in 1999, finding it interesting. However, it was not something I was drawn to do again.
From Facebook and Classmates.com, I learned that my 45th high school reunion was happening right around the time of my book launch. I decided to attend, but also that I would very much meter my energy. Walking into a room full of strangers would exhaust me. More importantly, this would in the middle of the book launch.
I could have attended many get-togethers throughout the weekend, but I chose to only attend the official reunion. The rest of the time I spent by myself exploring the neighborhood I grew up in, visiting the various schools I attended and just giving myself time to recharge.
It would have been easy to attend a Sunday brunch or a Friday evening get-together at a local bar. The Friday evening get-together was inviting, but I was already tired and navigating unknown roads at night was not appealing. I stayed at the hotel that evening and went for a walk.
I am approaching that magic age of 65 and I have finally admitted that I am an introvert. I still enjoy behaving like an extrovert but I must exercise self-care by doing the following:
- Scheduling my restorative niches
- Blocking out time
- Giving myself time to recharge
I am sure this will resonate with some of you because I know there are a lot of closet introverts who read this blog.
I have come out of the closet to say I am proud to be an introvert.
How about you?Marc Miller