I am over traveling alone. I’m a travel writer, so I’m constantly on the go. My job entails visiting places and talking to people and much to my dismay, most of the time, I’m traveling alone. I’m an introvert in an extrovert world.
Recently, a magazine flew me to Atlanta to cover the opening of a new hotel, and because I do love new experiences, I jumped at the chance. Shortly after I arrive, I’m scheduled to interview the celebrity spokesperson. This is the aspect of my job I love – interviewing people one-on-one. The two PR reps and I have a brief conversation about getting together later that evening at the grand opening party. I breathe a little sigh of relief because I am horrible at being in a room full of strangers. At least I had two “new” friends I could talk to.
I arrive for the party in my sassy pink dress, thinking it’s a festive occasion, and soon begin wishing I was in more non-descript black because I’m the girl in pink in a sea of black. There are about 100 people there, all standing and talking in groups, except for me, the wallflower who stands alone clutching my glass of wine as if hanging on for dear life. Occasionally, I check my messages to give me something else to look at rather than stare at the tiny molecules in my wine. I peruse the walls of the celebrity spokesperson’s photography, not once, but three times. Again, I check my messages and pretend to get a call which allows me to retreat to the corner for my fake conversation. I wander outside, hoping someone will walk up and introduce themself to me because heaven forbid I approach a stranger and break the ice. I do manage to put down three glasses of free wine and have a 30-second conversation with bartender.
After an hour of my fake texting, fake phone calls and incessant reading of artwork descriptions (this is why the pink dress was a fail – people must have said “why is that girl in pink reading the artwork for the fifth time?’), all I wanted to do was go back to my room, put on my pajamas, order room service and have dinner in my bed and binge watch Shameless. Alone.
I spot the PR reps across the room and feel of sense of giddiness knowing that I finally have someone to talk to. But clearly, they were in work mode, surrounded by corporate executive-types, and I could not seem to break through the inner circle. Rather than embark on my fourth glass of solo drinking, I decided to leave.
I briskly leave the party, pretending to be on an urgent phone call. I run upstairs, change into jeans, put my hair in a ponytail and put on my glasses so no one would recognize me, and slip out the side door to pick up food. (Another fail – it’s a hotel concept that caters to Millennials so there is no restaurant; apparently Millennials don’t do room service.)
So I get back to my room, open my burger, pour a water glass full of wine, take off my pants and sink into my bed. And I’m perfectly happy.
Some people are great at introducing themselves to strangers and making small talk. My husband thrives at this. Not me. I’m a writer, not a talker. I communicate through words on paper. If I could email my own mother instead of calling her every other day, I would. I’m non-verbal you might say. But give me a pen and paper and I’m awesome at conversing with readers.
I wrap up the next day with the PR reps, who ask if I enjoyed the party and presentation (there was a presentation? Must have been as I downed my burger in bed.). I guess the bottom line is that I get the story and fulfill my obligations. I network with everyone from the event via email – the old “I believe we met at the grand opening”. Even though we probably didn’t. Or I’m sure we didn’t because I’m an introvert.