Friday, August 5, 2016

Just one in a crowd

For those of you who may have missed it, I work for a Managed IT Services Provider. IF you're one of those who think the whole "computer techs are nerds" idea is just a stereotype, I'm here to tell you you're wrong. OK, maybe not 100% of techies are nerds, but it's pretty close. At least, most of them have a nerdy side to them.

I'm not one of the computer technicians at our company, but I love technology. I know enough about tech to get myself in some serious trouble...and have fun trying. To go along with this, I have a bit of a nerd streak in me as well. If you asked my wife, she'd probably say it was a big streak. I'm not sure she's really qualified to make that judgement call though. She has never even seen Star Wars.

All my rambling about nerdery IS actually getting to a point. (I appreciate that you've stuck with me so far.) This was my rambling, roundabout way of explaining that I have one of the classic nerd traits. I'm an introvert.

Yeah. I know. Can you believe it? The guy who shares his thoughts and ideas with the entire world via the average jester blog is an introvert. Even though I just confirmed my self proclaimed introvert classification by completing an online quiz, I personally think I'm a fairly even blend of introvert and extrovert.

I am a classic introvert when it comes to loud parties or large crowds of people. I would typically prefer a quieter setting with a smaller group of closer friends. That is not to say I am shy or in any way uninterested in meeting new people. I love meeting new people, but I'm horrible at initiating a conversation...unless I have a specific reason to. 

I think the best way I can explain it is that a large, loud group feels like a mass of unconnected people to me. It's like sensory overload to an infant. There are too many options and possibilities of people to talk to that I don't know where to start. 

When I have a specific reason to interact with large groups, I have absolutely no problem with it. I can easily get up in front of hundreds of strangers and address a crowd, give a speech or issue directions. I would have more difficulty walking into the middle of that crowd, going up to just one of those strangers and saying, "Hi. My name is Jesse. What's your name?"

I have always been very comfortable with speaking to large groups - starting with school and church presentations as a kid, through my years in the Marine Corps, and continuing in my professional life today. I will say this though...If you ever want to get over any kind of fear of public speaking, join the military. After the first few times of telling a group of trained killers what to do, you can talk to pretty much group of people. 

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that my mixed blend of introvert/extrovert comes primarily from two things. The first of which is that I am pretty content in general. I am happy with the friends I have and just don't have a burning desire or need to intentionally add to the numbers. Don't get me wrong, I love making new friends - I just don't go out of my way to do it.

The second reason I have noticed is directly related to why I don't appear to be introverted in my professional life. Whether it was in the military or my civilian career, I have always been part of a team. For some reason, my twisted mind sees that as a single entity rather than a large group of individuals. I know that both are actually true, but I seem to focus on the singular team.

The photo at the top of this post is a great example. It happens to be part of the crew on a Naval aircraft carrier. I'm hoping the Squids don't get upset that this Jarhead used them as an example, but at least it's a good example.

At first glance, you see a large group of people. Then you start to notice stripes of color through the crowd. Every one of those colors mark different "teams within the team" who are responsible for a specific set of tasks. It's a group of individuals who make up a task-specific team working together with other task-specific teams to ensure the entire group of teams act as one within a tiny margin of error. 

I look at that group as one team rather than part of thousands of individual sailors on an aircraft carrier. Don't ask me why I can see my fellow teammates as one large group, but I can't see the others around me in public the same way. I really should if you think about it.

I live in New Ulm, MN. The small town around me could be like one big team. Team New Ulm is also part of Team Minnesota, which is part of Team USA, etc. That obviously scales out of control pretty quickly, but I hope you see my point. You would think I could wrap my mind around that and become an instant extrovert, but I can't. You see, not everyone in my town, state or even country are on the same mission or have the same goals as me. And that's where it falls apart for me. 

Who knows? Maybe I'm just a stuck up snob and nobody's had the heart to tell me yet. Maybe I'm really super shy and I'm just good at faking it. Maybe I'll never know. What I do know is that I enjoy rambling on and on for hours - often without a topic - and that's probably part of the reason I started a blog. You would think it would make me more extroverted. Until next time....