I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s job. It’s hard.

I am an introvert.

. . . Or am I? I have wrestled with this question since I understood that such a question even existed. Reserved by nature, I’ve never been considered the boisterous person in any situation. I have a soft voice, and people would describe me as “quiet” (both literally and figuratively). However, I do love going out with friends and laughing hysterically and “painting the town red,” as they say. (Not sure what that means, but I like to think it means you have an awesome time in town.) But that doesn’t necessarily make me an extrovert, does it?

Then there is my job. I work in a very social setting. My job is to meet people; lots of people. I go to conferences, luncheons, and trade shows, and must be the first to walk up to complete strangers, introduce myself, and sell them on our organization. Or if they’re already a part of it, make small talk and make them feel like they are awesome. I’ve had to present in front of large groups, on the spot, no prep, just, “Hey, want to come up here and say a few words?” And I will, and I won’t be nervous, and I’ll be totally fine with it. Boom. Done.

But leading up to these things, I was in a dreadful state of remorse about taking the job. It takes a lot of energy for me to put myself out there so often, and I’d rather be at home on the couch watching HBO with my husband, dog, and two cats (of course I would have cats, what recluse wouldn’t have cats?). Yet, once I am there, I’m fine. Everything is OK, until after about an hour, and I start to get anxious and want nothing more but for everyone to suddenly feel sleepy and feel the need to go home, so I can go home.

I feel like I live my life on a roller coaster: I brace myself for the drop and when it comes, it’s exhilarating, and then I need to recuperate and find my ground. Then, it’s back up again, and when it’s over the adrenaline kicks in and then it leaves instantly and I’m exhausted. Basically the textbook definition of an introvert.

It is tiring trying to find a balance between wanting to stay home and not wanting to stay home, between wanting to put myself out there and wanting to keep to myself. I think, “Please don’t call on me during a meeting” and “I should say something, I should really jump in there,” equally as often. I’m sure every ordinary person in the world has experienced this at some point, but it’s something I can’t shake or get rid of. I earn the title of the “quiet one,” but it’s really because I don’t have anything I feel like saying. I’m perfectly content in my silence. Perfectly content, which I think is hard for some people to understand. So, when I need to be on, I am, with full throttle effort. Then when I can be off, I’m like a mime, comfortable with Netflix, my cats, dog, and husband. On the couch. With a pizza (or two).

Jackie Quinn-Piper, or QP (as she is known to one person), lives in the Los Angeles area. She holds a full time job that isn’t too soul-crushing, and writes screenplays and ghost stories on the side. QP is getting her Doctorate in Education and is a cat wrangler and singer of songs to her dog, Basil.

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