I’ve always seen myself as an extrovert. In fact, every assessment I’ve ever taken (and they are many – I’m a psychologist remember!) pins me down as an extrovert.
I love spending time with others and meeting new people, I enjoy discussing and debating my ideas as work in progress, I prefer discussions over email and can find my own company a little lonely – especially at work in my office.
But in the last couple of years, I’ve realised my energy is a very finite resource and, despite spending day after day with clients, I’m no longer the extrovert I once was. My ideal after a day spent running a workshop or presenting at a conference is to retire (gracefully) to my hotel room and simply luxuriate in the silence and my own thoughts.
Often, clients in a city I’m visiting will feel bad for me and attempt to arrange some kind of social arrangement. They seem to hate the thought of me spending an evening alone. And 20-something me would have agreed. Hell, 30-something me would have loved to go out and visit new places with clients!
However, 40-something me can think of nothing nicer than to head back to my hotel, particularly if it’s a nice one, and relax with my own company.
I spent today running a workshop for some particularly nice people here in Dublin. We had a laugh and they seemed to really get something from our time together. But as soon as I hopped in the taxi to get back to my hotel, all I could think of was getting to my room, stripping out of my work clothes and then chilling out alone.
Right now, I’m in the hotel bar, having finished off a few admin tasks. I’m sitting in the corner, listening to the quite nice piano jazz playing in the background and enjoying the conversions of strangers around me. I’ve finished work for the day and I’m enjoying a quiet pint of Guinness and thoughts of a room service dinner and an early night.
And let me tell you, I see nothing wrong with this!
My younger self would be shocked that I haven’t arranged a social event for this evening, somewhere more exciting than this very comfortable but not-very-hip hotel. My younger self would be wondering why I’m typing on a laptop and not in the middle of a crowded pub exchanging jokes and stories.
Now? I’m enjoying the anonymity of sitting in quiet solitude. Everyone else is talking to someone, ignoring me and feeling no need to involve me in a conversation.
I’ve disappeared, in plain sight.
And I quite like it.