Closet Introvert

closet introvertI will admit that I am a closet introvert!

I am not alone. There are many of you out there who appear to be extroverts, but are really closet introverts.

Is there a 12 step program for this condition?

Why do naturally introverted people start behaving like extroverts?

They get paid to be extroverted! DUH! The awards and kudos all go to extroverts!

I was a pretty shy kid. I was 6’4″ and 145 pounds when I graduated from high school. I had a big head of read hair (this was the early 1970s). I was no chick magnet.

I went to engineering school at Northwestern. Lots of introverts there!

I took a job at IBM programming word processors. Lots of introverts there!

In the mid 1980s, I took a job running a help desk supporting mechanical engineers. I got to talk to people. I got better and better at it. I got to run quarterly meetings. I was good at it. WOW! As a result, I received kudos.

I went off into training. I got to speak more. I got promotions. I won awards. I learned to behave like an extrovert. There was only one issue.

Boy, did I get tired. It was exhausting! It manifested physically in lower back problems. Once or twice a year, my back would spasm. I had to learn to take better care of myself if I wanted to continue to behave like an extrovert.

I learned to behave like an extrovert, but it consumed lots of energy.

Does this sound familiar?

Here is a great video on why you have become a closet introvert.

Let’s talk about three signs that you might be a closet introvert.

Group Dinner

You have traveled on business to meet with clients or coworkers. You have been with them all day! At 5 PM, someone says,

“Let’s go get drinks and dinner!”

If you feel like you want to go back to your room and vegetate, you are likely a closet introvert.

Being with people all day has drained you. You need time to go back to your room and recharge.

Public Speaking

You have worked hard to give a great presentation to an important audience. You are pumped up and go on stage with a burst of energy. The presentation goes great.

When you walk off, everyone gives you positive accolades. You feel great. You sit down, and the adrenalin starts to wear off (adrenalin is a GREAT DRUG!). Fifteen or twenty minutes later ,you slump in your chair, exhausted.

You are likely a closet introvert.

Evening With Your Spouse

You have been in meetings all day, but now it’s time to leave. When you get home, your spouse wants to have a discussion with you about an important issue. You just want to crawl into a corner or go to bed!

Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about. Unless you had time to decompress on the commute home, you need down time.

You are likely a closet introvert.

What To Do About It?

You are paid to be an extrovert! Therefore, you are not likely to want to make any changes in how you behave.

Here are a few ideas on how to take better care of yourself as a closet introvert.

  • Block off times of the day to be alone – If you are in all day meetings, find a place where you can sit by yourself, and do something that gives your energy. This might be reading your favorite book, listening to music on your iPhone, or getting online to research your next vacation. Even if it is just for 10 minutes multiple times a day, you will be surprised what it will do for you.
  • Eat a snack before a presentation – I worked in an IBM Briefing Center for many years. I found that, if I ate an apple before my morning presentations, I felt so much better afterwards. I learned that my breakfast was not sufficient to get me to lunch when I had to present in the morning.
  • Block off time before and after an event – If I am going to present or attend a conference where I will be interacting with a lot of people, I block off several hours before and after to be alone. I do not allow that time to be compromised.

I have stood on stage many times and told the audience that I am a closet introvert. They all go—right!! The problem is that a good part of the audience are also closet introverts.

Do you see yourself in this post? Are you really a closet introvert?