TEDActive Theater

Me and 700 of my closest friends in the theater at the conference

I had the opportunity to attend a live simulcast of the annual TED conference. For a sense of what it was like, read this post, which echoed my experience to a T. The conference team did an amazing job overall.

The conference I attended included 700 people from 70 countries who gathered together to watch the talks on screens, play games, talk, party, and figure out how to make the world—and our events—better. I found a roommate via the Facebook group, another ginger-haired German event organizer from Canada.

Having been to lots of conferences, I knew in advance not to over-commit myself. Don’t join anything, sign up for anything, or plan on any evening events. Pay attention to my energy, take naps if I needed to, trust that I would meet the people I was supposed to meet and let the experience wash over me.

While I can definitely seem extroverted, I know that I am an introvert, when introversion is defined as “where you get your energy.” At the end of a party, or a day at a conference, extroverts have more energy and are ready for more. Introverts are drained and need to go to bed, sit in a hot tub alone, or chat with just one person in a corner.

My roommate, a classic extrovert, sprang awake each day at 6 am, did cross-fit, chatted madly with everyone, and stayed out later each night. I went to bed earlier each night, cocooned in my eye mask, ear plugs, and white noise iPhone apps. Every day I was more tired, and watched my extroverted friends get more buzzed on the experience, having more fun, already talking about next year. They claimed to be tired, and yet were out playing Pictionary and pool games until 2 AM.

I know I was not the only person feeling introverty, as we managed to find each other, connect on the shared sense of not fitting in, or feeling overwhelmed, or not “drinking the Kool-Aid.” If I hadn’t read Susan Cain’s book Quiet I might have felt badly about myself. I might have said to myself that there was something wrong with me, or with Them for not getting how hard this was. Here’s her terrific TED talk from 2012:
Thanks to her book, I was simply able to surf the experience. I missed an entire session because my body demanded I sleep. I walked out of “one of the best talks!” because my brain hurt. I learned to go back to my room for the late afternoon break and sit in the hot tub alone for 15 minutes. I bookmarked talks to watch later, when my brain is working again, in order to share them with you.

Hot Tub at La Quinta

My friend the hot tub at dawn (45 degrees outside, steamy-hot inside)

In all, I connected with a handful of incredible people, and know that I will do a better job with our event because I attended this conference.

And next year? Chances are I’ll be in a more comfortable role, facilitating a live simulcast event here in San Diego, so that many more people can experience the power and passion of TED.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you think you would have enjoyed this experience?

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