Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Here’s one basic definition. Extroverts gain energy by being with people, whereas introverts gain energy by being alone. According to that definition, I have elements of both, though I tend toward introversion. I like being with people, but I also have a strong need for my alone-time. Writing gives me plenty of that!
Except during events like the RT Booklovers Conference. Then I’m surrounded by other people at all times, and I want to take advantage of every precious moment in the company of other romance fans. I want to talk and hang out at the bar and attend workshops and reunite with old friends and meet as many new people as possible. But the fact is that I’m basically a shy person. So if you're like me, how do you balance my reserve with my desire to get the most out of this – or any – event?
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.
1. Give myself permission to retreat to your room to recharge. For introverts, the need for some time when you’re not “on” is real. A little bit goes a long way. Even a half hour break can renew your energy and make your that much more sociable.
2. Smile. Two thousand readers and authors chatting and milling around can feel overwhelming. But instead of holing up in a corner, keep that smile on your face. A smile relaxes people, while will in turn make your more relaxed.
3. More is not necessarily better. It’s easy to feel pressure to do everything, see everything, talk to everyone. Of course - you don’t want to miss a thing. But if you overextend yourself, then you won’t really enjoy anything. It’s better to thoroughly enjoy a few things than to scatter your energy too far and wide.
4. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel awkward. Even the most poised and confident person feels uncomfortable and gawky at times. Everyone has their awkward moments. If you can laugh it off, you’ll enjoy yourself much more.
5. Remember there’s no such thing as perfection. I used to be shy about talking because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But people aren’t that critical. If you smile and are basically friendly, you can make a fool of yourself several times over and no one will mind. They might even find you entertaining.
6. Breathe. Seriously. A nice deep breath now and then makes all the difference.
Since today is the first real day of RT, I’ll be putting all these words of advice to the test. If you see me, please say hi. I’ll be smiling and very happy to see you. So back to my first question. Are you an introvert or an extrovert -- or a bit of both?