Since you asked: I step out of myself for the job, I am much more outgoing at work, because it pays dividends. The fact that I am actually very unsocial rarely comes up. Instances that come to mind are when coworkers mention facebook, because that is strictly for family and real friends and I will never add a current coworker, or when someone leaves, because I absolutely know I will not Keep In Touch.
After about 15 years of working in the same industry, I have a couple of observations of myself to offer:
- Little of the social ease I express at work translates to home life; I am a gregarious and friendly coworker, yet I almost never speak with my neighbors (and fellow home owners) and when I do I am very nervous.
- Social skills are invaluable. I don't mean being intrinsically social, I mean being able to turn it one when necessary. I supervise other employees (as in sign their timesheets, which means approving or rejecting their requests for schedule changes due to finals, dead grandmothers, etc), provide training for contractors, and do presentations when necessary. Never by choice, and not without some nerves before things get started, but once I am in the moment, it takes a life of its own and I am pretty good at it.
- For the most part, people are in their own world's (as I am) and really don't give a shit about you on a personal level. I take this as a huge relief.
- Don't take other poeple's word on who is or isn't difficult to work with. People generally aren't looking for fights, so go into every interaction with an open mind. It is entirely possible that the "friends" that warned you are the difficulty ones.