I really do fail to remember that I am at heart an introvert. My life’s work involves studying people, the ways they think, and how they relate to others. Generally speaking, I think of myself as a nice, friendly person. But at my core, I need to be alone more often than not. Being around other people, particularly strangers and acquaintances, wears me out. After a few hours, I start to have weird thoughts, and I get very lonely. At conferences this is especially true because not only am I forced to interact with a bunch of people I really only kind of know, but also I’m expected to be the smartest, most professional version of myself. I can only handle this for so long before I’m tempted to retreat to my hotel room to assume the fetal position.
Also, I feel so very self-conscious at conferences, especially when I’m sitting alone among a lot of people. Eating by myself at the hotel restaurant one morning was probably one of the worst things, although I was mercifully rescued by a few passing friends who joined me at intervals. Logically, I know it’s not a big deal, and no one who sees me probably gives me a second thought (or a first one, for that matter). But this time in my life has me a bit insecure about my abilities, and so I regress to some sort of adolescent self-centeredness and awkwardness. Three or four days of that is way too much.
That said, I did overall have a good time. My presentation went well, and I got some positive feedback and good ideas. I met some nice people and got to talk to people I see only a couple of times a year. I may have networked my way into some good opportunities in the future, so that’s also encouraging. My biggest accomplishment may have been my efforts to recruit a potential Ph.D. student into our program. I suck at self-promotion, but I never have any problems advocating for others, particularly when they’ve done right by me.
This week or next, I should find out if I got a paper accepted at another huge conference. At last week’s conference, my advisor informed me that I’d won the college-wide dissertation award. I was absolutely floored. I’m now in contention for the university-wide award, but I won’t know anything until about January. Every little boost helps!