I’m a communications specialist. I give media interviews, work with advertisers and from time-to-time, I represent my agency. You’d never guess it when I step in front of a camera or turn into a bulldog if a reporter or writer tries to hassle one of my coworkers for information we can’t legally share, but I am an introvert. I’m a little bit shy. I spend a lot more time conversing in my head than I do with the world.
But I love my job. I love communicating. Sure, it drains me to exhaustion on most days, because most introverts only have so much social energy to spend in a day. But there are far, far fewer days that I leave the office without a smile than those in which I do. I generally walk around this building grinning like an idiot. Because I am lucky.
Luck and love and grinning aside, I’m good at my job because it requires a skill set that I somehow ended up with. Sometimes, my friends and family members ask me how I manage to get through my days in one piece. It doesn’t make sense that I’d like doing what I do. I prefer to be at home either alone or with the people who are closest to me over most activities. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a stick in the mud. I enjoy going out. I have plenty of friends. I just really like being at home in my sweatpants, dancing alone in my kitchen with my dog. It’s not a big deal.
My answer to those friends and family members is that I truly feel like Work Katie, and Real Life Katie are two different people. We all put on masks when we go to work. My mask is just bigger than some of the others.
Don’t confuse this analogy with my being disingenuous. I couldn’t shut off the real me 100% even if I wanted to. I like who I am. I like being hyper-aware of how I’m feeling 24/7. There’s nothing wrong with being shy. There’s nothing wrong with knowing alone time is a required part of your day. There are much worse things than needing to be alone with your thoughts and some music without a single word of conversation for half an hour each day.
I don’t even have to be Work Katie all of the time when I’m at work. I’ve been here a year now. My coworkers know I’m a bit of a weirdo. They are seemingly cool with it.
But when I’m interviewing or networking, I’m someone else. I’m the version of Katie for which the situation calls.
Work Katie is a vital part of my life. Without her, I’d just be an introverted woman with a journal and a dog. Long-winded story short, find what works best for you. If you need a mask, great. Feel free to pop that baby on and wear it as often as you like. If you need to take a break for yourself, TAKE IT.
Do whatever you need to do, within reason and within good health, to be doing what you love.