I love my job. I love talking to folks about my job, my company, my field of expertise, my zone. Finding that common ground, making a quick connection, making a bond. It's fun, exhilarating, exciting, it validates myself and my work.
It's also hard, scary, makes me nervous, gives me mild panic attacks.
I'm, as my boss has told me jokingly, a "reformed" introvert. I gain peace from solitude, from a book and an old record, from zoning out and letting my mind wander to strange and scary places, from lying on the couch on my porch and listening to a spring thunderstorm, from staring out the window of my hotel while sipping a beer.
Crowds, people I don't know, odd situations, pushy extroverts, chatters on planes, professional events outside my area of expertise. All these things drag me down. I can "turn" on as needed to get things done, to do my job, to teach people, to do my best not to be the awkward quite person. I've learned to push back against the voice in my head telling me to run away, to find a dark and quite corner. I can push it away, but it empties all my reserves, cuts my soul bare, turns my mind to mush.
I'm ulgy when I'm worn thin. I snap, say shit I don't mean, act awful to the people I care about. I wish I could help it but the damn has burst, the filter gone, my internal 5 second delay and dump button is short circuited.
So if you know me, and catch me just back from a work trip, give me time. Let me build my defenses back up, regain my wit, my sense of humor. Tell me I'm being an asshole, make me self aware.
I have to learn, to help, to direct, to train. Why? Because I know one of my sons is like me. Thoughtful and deep but dark and moody when invaded. I hope one day he will let me into his world and we can just sit and listen together.