When I was a young adult, I definitely considered myself to be an extrovert. Then, in 2007, a year or so after my cancer diagnosis (and after being on leave from my job for most of that time), I did the Meyers-Briggs test. The person who explained my results to me said that mine was the most even split between introvert and extrovert that she'd ever seen.
Fast forward to last weekend when I attended the PAB conference. Walking in the door on a Friday night to an environment where it felt like everyone already knew each other was terrifying. My chest tightened, my breathing became shallow and I felt something between "slightly queasy" and "I think I'm about to puke my guts out."
I texted Tim, "This is so hard" and sent out similar messages to the Twitterverse (I will be forever grateful to Flutter for her words of comfort and encouragement).
And then I settled in for a great conference. Did I hide behind my Blackberry? Yes, lots. Did I sit by myself instead of joining other folks? Most of the time. Did I go on the evening boat cruise? I did not (my poor brain was too tired from all the big ideas and and the constant exciting but draining stimulation of the day). But I stayed and I learned and during Saturday lunch and over a couple of breaks I forgot to feel awkward and had a really good time. I even stood up to ask a question on the last day (although I forgot the question when I had the mic in my hand. I found something to babble about). For the most part, I think that's good enough.
Paralyzing anxiety disorders run in my family. And I know that the more you give in, the worse it can get. And I know that I've missed out on some truly wonderful experiences over the last couple of years because I've been too scared to go. I confronted my fear last week end. And I'm proud of that.
Next up: Blogging Out Loud Ottawa. Every year, I've found a reason not to go. This year I'm going to be there (hold me to that, would you?). There will be people I know and like. It will be fun. All I have to do is get myself through the door.