One of the lessons I learned from Susan Cain’s Quiet is that when you find yourself in a social environment outside your comfort zone, you can mitigate it by finding more reasonable avenues of engagement within the same setting. The “deep conversation” in the corner of a crowded dinner party comes to mind. While at the Grand Meetup, I’ve been doing my best to not be overwhelmed in the more populous moments. 400 people altogether can lead to being lonely and surrounded at the same time.
My main tactic for this has been to force smaller groups on myself and engage as best as possible with them. Anyone else I meet and converse with is just gravy. Some of these moments would be:
- The 4-to-6 person dinners we have each night
- The 1 person whom I’m playing Magic: The Gathering with at any moment
- The person right next to me at a larger breakfast or lunch table
- The players of the Dungeons & Dragons game I run
These are all much easier for me to handle, and I’ve found that by focusing on how to meet people through these avenues I’ve been able to give myself plenty of time to recharge socially and still meet a ton of new folks. It’s unreasonable to expect myself to feel truly comfortable in the loud party room, but absolutely expected of myself to feel comfortable playing Magic 1-on-1 in that room.
As of this writing, I’ve met 161 of the near-400 automatticians. This is far more people than I’d meet if I came here flying by the seat of my pants socially. But not once have I dived in headfirst to a crowd of strangers (which is terrifying,) it was all through small, expected engagement with opportunities I could easily find (which is fun.) Good results also makes me feel less guilty about spending a couple hours each day in my room to both call my wife and recharge my batteries.