Managing Social Expectations

My most terrifying moment at McKinsey was not handling some really tough client, but the invite I got to attend the New Year’s ball, a fancy black-tie event on some island near New York.

For most people, these lavish events are the compensation for the year-round slog. But for me, it was a nightmare.

Painfully introverted, I hate attending conferences or big gatherings. Further, making small talk and the obligation to ‘enjoy’ often feels burdensome to me.

Ironically, these events are not cheap and show the immense generosity of the Firm – McKinsey was nothing if not generous. Yet, they make some like me feel like fish out of water.

Throughout my life, introversion has been a struggle because the world expects people to love the company of fellow human beings. Unfortunately, some of us prefer solitude.

In the past, I often felt embarrassed about it. But over time, I have realized that the world needs all kinds. Also, you can train yourself to overcome your handicaps — I am very comfortable with public speaking or talking about anything under the sun (if I have something useful to say).

Regardless of your skills, personality, IQ, or any other trait, there is a game in which you can be amazing.

Find that game.

– Rajan

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