An Extrovert Among Introverts – The Good, the Great, and the Never Again

13770326_10206210351168833_981105845593591190_nAt one point during Realm Makers, I sat with a fellow extrovert and we started counting. Of the 180 attendees, the count was 11 by the end of the conference, the count soared to 13. By this proportion, NAF is teeming with writerly extroverts. Brittany Valentine is another in this count.

Even among us extroverts, our brand seems to be on the ambivert end of the scale. That is we’re somewhere on the continuum of extroverted introvert, ambivert (50/50 E/I), introverted extrovert. I call my brand “solar flashlight”. I need to recharge to shine. In other words, I love extroverting (I’m calling it a word), but it drains me. And at Realm Makers, I found that out big time.

The good. I had a fantastic time. Due to cross-country travel, I arrived in Philadelphia early (0630) Wednesday morning. I loved getting to know three fellow attendees a lot better. My favorite times were the one-on-one moments. Two of us had about an hour to kill before number 3 arrived. We got to know each other, and I was fascinated by the unique town where my traveling companion lives. I ate lunch with a different person. She and I discussed how we love experiencing unique food while totally scarfing down some delicious crepes. Several times through the day I caught up with various companions on the train as our party grew in number.

The great. I roomed with Kristen Stieffel and NAF aluma, Kat Heckenbach. It was great getting to know these ladies better as well as our fourth roommate. I spent a lot of time with these ladies, as well my roommates from last year, and my male critique partner.

In general, it’s these deepening friendships that are the best part of Realm Makers, at least from a social perspective. Late-night brainstorming with two critique partners, walking to the banquet with part of the NAF gang (including founder Keven Newsome), the banquet with last year’s roommates, an all too short conversation right before I left with Kristen, and meal times where I sat with various combinations of attendees.

The never again. I was housing coordinator, so I tried to meet as many of the attendees as possible. I prayed over these assignments-where to put them, who to pair with who, accommodating various special situations. I felt a personal obligation to make sure all felt included and cared for. I quickly (as in Thursday night) learned this was the limit of my extroversion. Ugh. I found out I can only meet so many the people who the limit of my interaction is, “What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you write?”

As much as I want to be friends with every single Realm Maker, I realized this isn’t realistic. It doesn’t mean I don’t like these people or that they’re not important to me. I don’t want to be cliquish but really with limited time, I now know that socially, my focus needs to be enjoying my good friends and widening that circle. Through those actions, I’ll slowly connect with others.

In a social setting, what do you find to be your toughest challenge?

About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

17 comments on “An Extrovert Among Introverts – The Good, the Great, and the Never Again

  1. Like a lot of introverts, I struggle with small talk. That’s why I also enjoyed our one-on-one time; it gave us a chance to go deeper.

    In the Realm Makers Facebook group, someone posted under #thestruggleisreal that it’s frustrating when you connect with someone online after the conference whom you didn’t get a chance to meet during the conference.

    I need to get more intentional about seeking out people I know from online at Realm Makers. But you’re right. The bigger the conference gets, the harder it is to meet everyone.

  2. I tried my best to meet everyone. I failed and forgot what many of the people I met write. I also couldn’t recognize a face to save my life at the costume party. (I have trouble with faces/names to begin with.)
    I’m trying to get to know people better on Facebook, but I’m sure I’m going to be embarrassed next year when someone knows me well, but I forgot their name.
    Another issue is trying to meet people when the room is loud or tightly packed.

  3. I don’t *ever* ever need to recharge without people. I’m that rare 100% extrovert. BUT I need to have time away from certain people. 😛 Pretty much, I can take my family 24/7 and never have a need to get away from them. But everyone else, I can get weary from putting on the Mrs. Cleaver face and expression all the time. 😛
    So it’s not a need to be away from people ever – it’s a need to not have to be chipper with people I don’t enjoy. 😛

  4. I’m with you. I’m one of the oddball extroverts. (Like we didn’t all already know that!)
    I too tried to make it to everyone, and I too failed. But it’s okay. I’ll simply try again next year. 🙂

  5. I have to remind myself in social situations that if something I say is “ignored” or if a conversation I’m having suddenly stops, it is not rejection of me. In social settings there is usually a lot of distractions that will pull people’s attention away. I tend to fold on on myself If this happens too often because I feel like it is because what I’m saying isn’t important or being heard.

  6. I have an extremely difficult time approaching anyone I am not already very familiar with or putting myself in situations where I do not have a companion/friend to stick by. I don’t like to be “alone” at social events but I’m not comfortable putting myself out there to get to know people either. And once I do know someone, I will gravitate toward them for the rest of the event. So I love when extroverts will approach me but it’s also deflating if they flutter on when I was hoping for a friend to hang out with.

    • I’ll keep that in mind if we ever meet in person. I have several friends who are like you and prefer to always have a companion. I admit to being a “flutterer”. I like small groups but constantly move from one cluster to another.

      • I depend on my daughter as companion too much – it’s going to be difficult when she grows up and isn’t wanting to hang out with mommy anymore! Hubby’s going to find himself roped into a lot more social situations. 😉

      • As an extrovert who works from home, I’m with you! I need interaction with groups to recharge after the drain of seclusion for days or weeks on end. And I love the flutterer term. Like a honeybee ;). Not trying to dismiss individuals, but seeking to experience as many of them as possible because they’re so sweet to embrace.

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