Even with all my time on stages, performing stand-up comedy, I am an introvert. Not painfully shy, nor anti-social, nor asocial. I do like to socialize. As much as anybody, i’ll hang out and have a drink(s) with anybody who is cool and fun to hang out with. And wouldn’t be mad that I ended that sentence with “with.” But still, when there’s stuff to be done, or I’m not feeling the vibe, I bail to finish the stuff that needs doing. This sometimes rubs people the wrong way. They think I am not interested in their stories, or that I am surly, or maybe other stuff they haven’t vocalized. Usually I step-out or turn-in so that I can finish my own thoughts and “stuff.”
Case in point… I’m managing a project at work to finish up some technical yadda-yadda. My brain is active enough when I’m engaged with work, but when people around me are talking, I hear their words as well as what I’m trying express in an email or presentation. Try singing a song with a different one blaring on the radio. Now try it with 8 songs blaring. That’s how my work set-up is. So I have had to excuse myself… well, just got up and left… from the large conference room we’re calling home at the moment. That’s just how my brain works. Of course somebody else has to say “Well I can work with the radio going, windows open, dogs barking, wife yelling at me, no problem.” Wow, you’re gonna die in a fire or from a monster attack there, Mr. FocusOlympics. You must be so proud.
Anyway, I had to move. I had to get this done, so I left the room for a spot 2 doors away. In doing so, it wasn’t 30 minutes later that I, fully immersed in updating the work in front of me so that I could maybe get caught-up today, was interrupted twice. I was not “updated” with important information. Neither person asked after nor offered project-critical news. I sat with my back to the office door, but I could hear their approaching steps and “Oh, there’s Lott.” One guy did a great impression of a guy doing a horrible impression of Bill Lumbergh, the boss from “Office Space.” The other guy said, jokingly, “Hey, do you not like us? I think they think you’re antisocial!”
To which I responded, jokingly, “Oh come on, I like some of you, on a rotating basis.” Big laugh on that one. But come on… I’m funny.
And introverts aren’t bad people. Don’t confuse “reflective” for “introverted.” I am reflective, pondering, and thoughtful sometimes. I think a lot of people do that, taking stock of the day, ruminating on the state of the True Detective franchise, thinking of what they’d do if they were on an episode of “CHOPPED” and had to save their own life with a dish. I can stand on-stage in a room full of strangers and be comfortable and empowered, but I know that I know what I’m doing, and it’s a power-position in the room. But off-stage, you put a half-drunk divorcee with a half-tooth and a tan that says “I drink outside a lot” in front of me with questions about my bit on Death With Dignity, and I’m scanning for an exit or friend to pass her off to.
So this surely bleeds through to my work life, I know that. It’s always been this way. Probably fear of rejection or self-esteem issues. Usually I just don’t have the “THING” that seeks engagement with people on a broad basis. Forced into the situation, I fall back to being reticent, inquiring of others, and cracking small jokes. This usually helps me relax and we all get along.
But if I have a deadline and a co-worker who eats in a manner reminiscent of a large working dog – I mean like a Mastiff, big-head breed – then I’m gone. I see other people wondering if they might offend others if they leave the room. Then I do it a few times, and the place begins to break up a bit. Not all are introverted, but at some point you just need to break off the noise and the blather, and get to the important stuff like writing a blog for the first time in forfuckingever.
And if I were on CHOPPED I’d probably die. They just don’t get the majesty of a well-seasoned tuna melt for one.