I am an introvert in extrovert’s clothing.
When I tell people I hate public speaking, they’re shocked. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at something I really don’t like, which most people find pretty hard to believe. Inevitably, after I’ve insisted that I do–in fact–not like speaking in front of groups of people, they ask something like, “Why did you choose this career?”
I ask myself that pretty much at the start of every semester when I have to introduce myself and my class to a classroom full of people I’ve never met and who are predisposed to hating me. And do it again. And then again. Ad nauseam.
I ask myself that every time I agree to a speaking engagement, which I do entirely too frequently for someone who hates public speaking.
I love what I do, but I am an introvert. And as an introvert, public speaking drains me. When it comes to social interaction, I prefer one-on-one interactions to group ones. Parties, too, wear me out–talking to all those different people. It’s why I’d rather have a nice quiet birthday dinner with my husband than a big party. It’s not that I don’t like people or enjoy spending time with friends; it’s just that I find it overstimulating. And it takes me much longer to “recover” from that type of interaction than it does other (presumably extroverted) people.
Today I delivered the pre-conference workshop for the Two-Year College English Association Southeast Conference. From 9-11. By the time we finished lunch, all I wanted to do was take a nap. I even drifted off just a little in an afternoon presentation–not at all because it was boring but just because I was so worn out. When I did get home, I took a nap. I had to force myself to get up off the couch, so I wouldn’t ruin a possible good night’s sleep. I’m still exhausted. And I’m fighting dehydration by guzzling water. It’s like I ran a marathon. But I didn’t. All I did was talk to a bunch of strangers for 2 hours (ok–it’s actually a bit more than talking because every public speaking engagement is a performance, but still).
And that’s why I say I hate public speaking. But not enough to stop doing it. Because I love my job (most of the time).
I think I might go lie down now.