I had so much fun delivering a keynote at OSCON a few days ago, “Introvert? Extrovert? Klingon? We’ve got you covered.” I enjoyed the hallway conversations afterward, the Facebook comments, the email and the tweets. It’s wonderful to know that I’ve said something that someone else identifies with, that in some way may shift their perspective. It’s been my job for 20 years to help evolve our understanding of the variety of ways that people interact with each other, technology and the world. For the first time, I publicly talked about my experience of the world. It felt really good.
In the keynote I talked about coming out as an introvert. I did not talk about coming out as a woman with PTSD, which intensifies my introversion with hyper vigilance, anxiety and depression. It’s Saturday and I’m 90% recharged after Tuesday’s presentation.
Here’s what my week looked like: I traveled by train on Monday morning, was at the conference for 3 hours on Monday and 5 hours on Tuesday, then returned on the train on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday I didn’t leave the house and in fact, spent most of the 2 days in bed, exhausted. The rest of the time I was in my office (catching up on email and attending meetings by phone) or the media room (rewatching Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race). I had stocked my house with food before I left, anticipating the need for “hermit recovery mode.” I had planned on Wednesday to hermit. I didn’t expect to still be so exhausted and continue to hermit on Thursday. I used the variety of self-care methods I’ve evolved over the years and by Friday morning, I woke up giddy with a surge of energy and made it into the office.
I’ve had several people respond that they didn’t realize I was an introvert, or they feel I am very confident or “smooth” for an introvert. In the Myers Briggs scheme of things, I am an INFJ which means:
INFJs are conscientious and value-driven. They seek meaning in relationships, ideas, and events, with an eye toward better understanding of themselves and others. Using their intuitive skills, they develop a clear and confident vision, which they then set out to execute, aiming to better the lives of others. Like their INTJcounterparts, INFJs regard problems as opportunities to design and implement creative solutions.
INFJs can adapt easily in social situations due to their complex understanding of an individual’s motivations; however, they are true introverts. INFJs are private individuals who prefer to exercise their influence behind the scenes. Though they are very independent, INFJs are intensely interested in the well-being of others. INFJs prefer one-on-one relationships to large groups. Sensitive and complex, they are adept at understanding complicated issues and driven to resolve differences in a cooperative and creative manner.
Thus, it makes sense that I’ve spent my career learning about how other people are in the world and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting how I am in the world. I am often (not always) very comfortable with people. I love and am intrigued by people, especially the variety of ways that people exist in the world.
I need time to myself to reflect, to dream, to synthesize the information I pick up when I interact with the world and the people in it. I need time to step backstage, away from the lights, sit on the floor with my headphones and meditate. Because when I do that, I can step on stage and speak from my heart.