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!

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