Now that the holidays are over and life has gotten back to normal I feel like it’s a good time to reflect on some lessons I learned last year, including lessons learned during my extrovert experiment.

Last month I spent 2 long weeks bringing out my extroverted side. What do I mean by “extroverted side?” Well, I saw more people than normal and spent more time on my work (and less time on myself) than usual.

Each day I left the house and spent at least an hour with other people while doing (mainly business-related) activities that were on my “someday” list. One hour may sound like nothing but I work from home now and have gotten acclimated to spending my 9-5 “by myself.” I do leave the house, like to go shopping or the occasional Meetup or to a coffee shop because I’m sick of looking at the same four walls, and I do coaching conversations over the phone, but emotionally those activities seem a world apart from going to a networking event.

The other aspect of my extrovert experiment was to work more. Typically when my partner is home I try not to divide my attention too much between her and work. I’d rather be present. But for the those two weeks I intended on taking advantage of my partner being out of town by working on Introvertology tasks well into the evening.

You can read about what I did each day here.

It was an interesting experiment, but not one that I’d care to repeat anytime soon. However, as often happens when I step out of my comfort zone, it was a learning experience.

Here are a few quick lessons I learned from those two weeks:

  • Being more social and active, coupled with less downtime than normal, didn’t really effect me physically (that I could tell) but it did effect me mentally. Towards the end of the two weeks I felt distracted and found it harder to focus on the task at hand.
  • This experiment also resulted in me feeling less grounded. I felt less like myself, like I was just some bundle of reactions.
  • Towards the end of the two weeks I ended up doing things like extended tidying breaks and afternoon showers, things that felt like I was keeping busy, but I now realize were ways I was sneaking in downtime, time when I wasn’t rushing or working or talking or thinking, just being.
  • Using convenience as the chief factor in deciding how to relax isn’t always the best idea. It’s a good idea to actually take the time to ask yourself “what will actually let me relax.”
  • Bonus tip: if you’re a little bit Highly Sensitive then don’t watch emotionally-charged TV show when you’re already a little stressed and you’re just trying to relax.
  • Extra-bonus tip: don’t watch a compelling show right before bedtime. The show was good (and it had David Tennant in it), so I kept watching it. But it wasn’t a relaxing show. Physically watching the show I suppose was relaxing, but my emotions were hard at work.
  • Super-extra-bonus tip: it’s hard to think of relaxing things to do when you’re a little stressed and tired. Like I was surprised that knitting was relaxing. Ummm, I had already known that for years! Keep an updated list of relaxing things to do somewhere accessible.

One last observation:
Introverts are everywhere!

I met a LOT of them over the course of the two weeks. At small Meetups. At networking events. Everywhere!

We are, after all, 50.7% of the US population. Only it’s hard to know if someone’s an introvert by looking at them or even talking to them.

I was able to get a special insight into how many introverts are out there because I introduced myself as an introvert coach and introvert advocate.

So the next time you’re somewhere like a networking event and feel like you’re the only introvert in the room, just remember there’s plenty of other people in the room who feel the same way.

What activities would you do in your own 2-weeks-as-an-extrovert experiment?