During my work trips to see clients, I always take them out for a team dinner or bonding event, and the events seem to have gotten bigger and bigger every subsequent time I have come down. The events are rarely fewer than 12 people, and with the usual long tables that American restaurants love, it’s hard to interact with everyone. I try to get my internal team to spread out, stop talking to each other, and talk to our clients, which is obviously the reason we are all visiting. These events are made to get to know each other outside of the office, get a sense of everyone’s personalities, and subconsciously find ways to get them to like and trust us more and thus work better together.
I oftentimes realize that although I appear as an extrovert to a lot of people, these events make me more cognizant that I’m really just a closeted introvert. Sure, I love talking to new people, I have no problem talking to strangers, and I’m pretty good at small talk with random people on the street (and my loud volume and laugh also makes people think I’m very extroverted), but sometimes, making the effort to talk to people I don’t know that well personally can be so taxing. I can feel myself straining when I am sharing stories to engage with people I don’t know. I don’t know if they can tell I am straining or if they are just eating up what I am saying. But they seem to be enjoying themselves, and I guess that’s all that matters.
When I got back to my hotel tonight, I plopped all my stuff down, washed up, and crawled into bed with my computer. I felt so relieved to have alone time and be by myself.
My mom asked why our company doesn’t make us share rooms when we travel in order to save money. “You’re costing your company a lot of money every time you take these work trips,” she said to me the other day. “$200-350/night for a hotel room is ridiculous. Why don’t you just offer to share a room with one of your woman coworkers?”
Um… no. I need that alone time. I need my privacy. I’m a 30-freakin’-year-old career woman. I am not ever offering to share a room when I travel, not that I have ever, even once, been asked. If I didn’t have that alone time to myself and had to think about whether I had to put clothes on when leaving the bathroom to go to the hotel bedroom, I would not be a happy little worker. The older I get, the more I savor time to myself. It’s my time to recharge, think, and just be me. I don’t always want to be “always on,” always thinking about what other people think or how they will react to the things I say and do. Sometimes, I just want to be off and relaxed.