Conferences for Introverts Part Two (Sarah: 1, daTeechur: 0)

Warning: This post is very random, with no tips or tricks.  I am just writing this one to help me to process.  Hopefully it will be of value to someone else, too…but it probably won’t lol.

P.S. (yeah, I know): I wrote this blog post at 4 am this morning, but took it down, because it felt awkward to post this while still at the conference.  I’m on a train going home now, so I’m putting it up again.

Hi everybody!  It’s been a while.  I was writing like a crazy woman over winter break, but mainly on a book that I hope to finish one day.  That’s a huge goal for me, but I really want to do it.  I also wrote a guest post on my buddy Dr. Will’s blog.  I’m so deeply honored that he extended that invitation.  Check it out if you want to get some tips on getting started with presenting at conferences.

Segue: you may remember a post that I wrote shortly after attending ISTE, entitled “An Introvert’s Guide to Conferences.”  Thank you to everyone for your great feedback.  I am curently in a hotel room at EduCon, and I am finding myself in the same boat.

Actually, the boat is slightly different.  Or maybe the boat is the same, but the waters are different.  First off, let me say that EduCon is an awesome conference.  I love how different it is from the traditional conference.  Speaking of that, Rafranz Davis and I are going to be facilitating a conversation tomorrow about the purpose of the educational conference.  I’m so excited and can’t wait.

There are many differences between EduCon and ISTE.  Although they are both major conferences (check them out), they are like night and day.  For starters, ISTE is an edtech conference with many attendees.  EduCon is a smaller educational conference, with many connected attendees.  Ironically, I was able to adjust to being out of my comfort zone at ISTE a lot quicker than today at EduCon.  Today, I dropped the ball and went all deer in headlights.

Maybe it had something to do with timing.  When I went to ISTE, I was used to being around people.  I did three conferences back to back from June 17-19 (bam, bam, bam!), then headed off to Google Teacher Academy on the 23rd, and HackED on the 26th.  By the time ISTE started on the 27th, I already had the better part of 10 days of interacting with people.  Even though I was uncomfortable at times, and honestly did hide in my hotel a couple of times, I was kind of used to it.

Then, we went back to work.

When you’re working, you don’t have two solid weeks to chat with grown-ups.  Drop me in the middle of a conference full of eighth graders right now, and I’ll be on fire.  The last time that I was in any face-to-face situation with a room full of adults (other than my co-workers) was in November.  So, at EduCon, I’m not yet warmed up.

I have done lots of presentations in the past year or so, roughly about 35.  I can talk flipped instruction or gamification all day.  These are procedural (i.e. “This is what I’ve done with my students, and it’s helped us. Here’s how we did it.”), and I consider them low risk conversations.  However, put me in a situation that I go “off-script,” so to speak, and I freeze up.

Even speaking to people in conversational settings is difficult, because I’m always afraid of sticking my foot in my mouth, which I tend to do a lot.  Instead, I don’t say much at all, and it’s awkward.  Then I get more awkward because I feel awkward about being awkward.

I hate this the most when I meet my buddies from my PLN in real life.  I feel like we’ve built this amazing rapport.  A lot of these folks, we laugh together, we share secrets, we learn together…they are truly friends, even though we have never met.  But STILL, I get all weird anyway.  Don’t ask me why…I have no idea.  It takes me a little while to be myself in face-to-face situations, and I hate this.

I’m afraid that I may be one of those people who is totally different in real life than online, at least at first, but I try.  The truth is, I am the most real in two situations: when I can hide behind a keyboard/smartphone, or when I feel truly comfortable around the majority of people with whom I am interacting.  It’s really weird, but I smile excessively when first meeting someone, which might look fake, but I’m trying to be friendly…as my mind goes blank.

What I love about social media like Twitter or Voxer is that I can chime in when I want, and can maintain Sarahdateechur in short bursts.  I can even fake Sarahdateechur pretty convincingly in face-to-face situations when I’m warmed up, but not today.

I really let myself down.  I did go to the conference today, but only stayed until lunch.  I hung out for a little bit Friday night and Saturday morning with some amazing people, including a few of my good friends from F2F and online, but came back to the hotel midday.  Yes, this was part of the plan, as I had an online presentation at 2 pm; however, I had intended to go back for EduCon Session 3 and the awesome networking events after the fact.  I just couldn’t, though.  I spent the rest of the time in my hotel room, in my comfort zone on social media, and sleeping.

Tomorrow is a new day.  It had better be.  If anything, I need to be a very convincing actress for exactly 90 minutes.  Maybe I need to reread my blog post and take my own advice, and I’m all ears to whatever advice that you may have.  I should probably get some sleep, as I need to be up soon.  Thanks for reading, and goodnight.

4 thoughts on “Conferences for Introverts Part Two (Sarah: 1, daTeechur: 0)

  1. Hi Sarah, thanks for writing this post. Many wouldn’t admit that they feel different from their “online” personas but the truth is most of us are probably different. It allows so many of us to be either more or less comfortable. Don’t worry that you felt awkward. So many feel this way including myself, but you know what? I doubt anyone noticed. Your PLN still loves you when they meet you IRL life because they know what’s in your heart. <3

  2. I actually am going to an edcamp in the morning (I really should be asleep at the moment) and I found myself feeling a little anxious about trying to be more outgoing and making connections. I thought to myself.. Oh, I should go read Sarah’s blog, because I remembered your original post about this topic. It helps so much just to know its not a problem only I have. I just wanted to thank you for sharing! I think it is awesome that you do things like present and put yourself out there.

    1. Thank you so much, Jessica! I am also glad to know that I’m not alone. It seems as though a lot of people feel this way. Just know that there’s a good chance that the people you meet may have the same concerns. You’re awesome 🙂 I hope you have a great time today 🙂

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