At 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?