Introvert Hacking

When I moved to Austin a year ago, I wanted to push myself to become 'more social'.

That's a vague term, but what it really means is that I was never very good at making new friends ... I was afraid of saying stupid things in casual conversations ... and I had just spent 4 years living among the coyotes and bears in northern Wisconsin. So my social skills were pretty damned non-existant.

I went to a variety of meet-up group events, and other public events where I could meet new people. I attended some great meet-ups, particularly the Ishmael meetup group! I've met some great friends in these monthly dialogue discussions, and I even got to host an event with Daniel Quinn (the author of Ishmael) in my home this summer. Awesome! :)

But the community of people that I felt the closest affinity to was the 'paleo/primal' meetup group created by Bryan Barksdale, because a lot of them had also had health challenges but were now embracing life very fully. I wanted to hang around with people like that! :)

However, there just weren't a lot of meetups being scheduled. So I scheduled a hiking event started taking the initiative on my own. Brook Schaaf suggested a number of ideas for future meetup events including paleo 101 events, happy hour hangouts, etc. And, so I took the initiative and I scheduled a few of these sorts of events over the next few months.

The type of event that seemed to have the most salience was the Paleo 101 'introductory event' and potluck. It's an opportunity for someone to speak and answer questions on their area of expertise, and a chance for the meetup group to come together at a regularly-scheduled event (this is how modern communities are formed, through recurring social connections).

The Paleo 101 event is now up to #14 in the series, so it's been quite successful! Where I used to have to ask Keith Norris for help in lining up speakers, people are coming to me asking to set up events in the Paleo 101 series.

What I still have trouble understanding is that I seem to be ... well, kind of good at this!? I know, that's really puzzling to me, too! :)

A number of people from the paleo/primal group have been telling me what a great job I've been doing at this organizing thing. I mean, damn! When I started out last January, my brain was still really foggy and my social abilities were pretty minimal. I never expected to hear that I was 'a natural' at this, or that people thought I was a great host who made everyone feel welcome. Those are qualities I never expected others to see in myself.

So -- I don't buy into the idea that we're either introverts or extroverts, and that these are unchanging qualities that we're stuck with for the rest of our lives. Like most parts of brains, our social abilities are plastic and they can be changed.

Simply challenging yourself to try new things, and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, can create neuroplastic change in your brain. This includes things as fundamental to your character as sociability and introversion.

Originally written on 2013-12-29