Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Extroversion - It's Not As Easy As You Think

I feel like most of my blogs these days start out this way: recently I was having a conversation with my friend...
It never fails to be true though!
Originally when I started this post I had all kinds of  definitions because that's the kind of person I am. If I can get to the root of what something means I can understand it. Simply put Extroversion & Introversion are really just how a person recharges their battery. I am including the links below if you are also interested.


My friend and I discussed several points around this including generalizations when it comes to vocabulary. Must a shy person be an introvert? Or an out going person an extrovert? No, although most people generalize it that way. We both consider ourselves shy but as I mention she is clearly an introvert while I am an extrovert. Having a diverse combination of introvert and extrovert friends we began commenting on how they relate to each other and things that are hard about each. That was the point we realized we have been bombarded with lists over the last year, maybe more, of "struggles of being an introvert" and "how to relate to your introvert friend". It occurred to us that there has been no evidence of such a list for extroverts. Why you might be asking? I don't really know, but my best guess is that the qualities that come with being an extrovert tend to be prized and sought after in ambitious society so as a culture we see them as not struggling. Wrong. Not to down play the challenges introverts face, because if we are being honest, it really is an extrovert world we live in. But when your battery percentage depends greatly on who is around you life is not always a picnic. We extroverts have our own problems and I shall make my list now!
So world here it is:

The Struggles of Being an Extrovert

Was That Too Much?

As extroverts we tend to be excited about the prospect of meeting new people. It's like a whole new adventure & story that is about to unfold. Someone new! And quite possibly a new friend! IT'S JUST SO EXCITING!!!! At least that's what it's like on the inside for extrovert, which is fine. Until the excitement vomits out at an unsuspecting introvert, woops! All too often the energy we are drawing out of this exciting new social situation is far too overwhelming for the other person involved. You end up making a first impression that could be described as over bearing, pushy, overly chatty, irritating, know it all, aggressive, maybe even a little crazy. The honest truth is, we didn't mean to.

Sometimes I Need To Think About Things By Myself Too

Most extroverts need to bounce their thoughts & ideas off another person to process them appropriately. There are those rare times when even extroverts know that they have to sort out their thoughts for themselves. It is likely that they will bounce their conclusions off another person when they've sorted them but they still need the time to think. What ends up happening is a never ending string of "what's wrong", "are you ok", "you look sad", "can I help you", etc. I know my introvert friends understand this all too well, but I included it here because extroverts experience this in a different way. When you are an extrovert people around you become used to your energy level in public, your socializing, your chattiness. So when it's not there those people are uncomfortable and don't believe you when you tell them you are fine and they panic and insist on returning you to you the state they are most comfortable with. To which one wants to shout "OMG GO AWAY!!!"  There are some life events & problems that just require your own opinions and no one else's, even for an extrovert.

Pressure To Be The Life Of The Party

In a similar fashion, as an extrovert there is a generalized assumption that when you are out and about with people (which is often) that you are going to "bring the party". This idea didn't come from no where, it is often true, but with it comes a constant pressure to always be "On". Performers know what
it feels like to be in the spot light. Now imagine that's every social situation you encounter ever! Most of the time this is fine, in fact I know quite a few extroverts that will say "I'm just gonna hang back this time" and everyone laughs because they know it's super unlikely. Reality check though, no one can be "on" 100% of the time. Those moments might be rare, but please understand and don't make us feel guilty if we want the party rest on someone else's shoulders for the night. We will be back in top form again soon, promise!

What If I Don't Wanna Be In Charge

Leading right into the ever present pressure to be the leader, planner, or decision maker. Yes, extroverts gain energy from being around others but that doesn't mean that we are all naturally born party planners. Extroverts can get overwhelmed by all the details that go into planning events and being around people is not the same as managing them. Extroverts are as diverse as Introverts and some of them HATE planning, they just wanna show up and enjoy the event bringing their life & energy with them. If you ask them to create an itinerary or make a seating chart they may just rip their hair out. Decisions are hard and that need to bounce ideas off others can make being the decision maker even more complicated. You end up with too many opinions and if you're not a skilled planner/leader then you're more confused then when you started. The need to be around people for mood & energy's sake does not mean we should or are comfortable being in charge.

The Dangers Of "Negative Nellie"

As I have mentioned extroverts get energy from being around people and it effects their mood & thought process. What happens when an extrovert is surrounded by negative energy & people? It feels like being trapped in a room with an angry kitten (or puppy if you rather). It's frustrating, and hurts, and possibly kinda scary, and you wanna leave because you know it's better for you but you also wanna grab that kitten and cuddle it anyway because, kitten. It feels like a trap, as if you were being pulled into a vortex of negative thoughts feet first and even though you are grasping for something there is nothing to pull you out. We know the negative energy is toxic but sometimes you can't get away (like at work) and other times it's still less terrifying than being alone.

I Might Be Shy

They are out there folks, the elusive Shy Extrovert. Don't worry I've already done the definition thing but let me tell you what happens. If you are a shy extrovert your friends are all used to they expect you to be lively, talkative, and full of energy because that is what they are used to. But when you're faced unexpectedly with a social situation where you don't know anyone the anxiety starts to build.
You know you should talk to people, it will put you back in your element, but they all seem so scary and your thoughts start to race. It's not long before words become hard to think of and you have absolutely nothing interesting to bring up to start that crucial conversation. And just like with all shy people this is 1,000 times worse and more awkward if I'm attracted to you. It's real I promise because I've lived it.

Yes I Do Enjoy Solitary Activities

I have emphasized how extroverts seek out people, it gives us energy and improves our mood. This doesn't mean that we don't enjoy things that are considered "solitary" activities. I love to read! Sure sometimes I do it in a crowded room, but I still love reading. I also love sewing, which is quite hard to do with others and someone even once said that extroverts don't blog. Being active and social is an integral part of any extrovert's life but they are still able to enjoy individual hobbies & activities. Sometimes we even find ways to make them social. Don't count the extroverts out, they may be your next best book club buddy!

I Don't Actually Like Everyone

As an extrovert your super powers are talking to people and having a packed calendar! You love being around people this is how it goes. That means you like them all right? No. Please don't mistake my ability to talk to someone pleasantly because the situation demands it of me with actually liking them. I am not accusing all extroverts of being "fake" although I'm sure some are. I am merely pointing out that it's an easy generalization that people make often when it comes to extroverts. You like being around people therefore you like all people. Not true, we reserve the right to not mesh well with some people.

When Enough Is Enough!

I just spoke to how even extroverts need breaks, and no one can be "on" 100% of the time but the way you can really pick out an extrovert is how long it takes for them to become so stir crazy they
look like they are out of their mind. Only engaging in an activity for a couple minutes, moping, pacing, constant phone checking, sending repeated text that consist of ridiculously pointless nothings like "hey", talking to themselves because there's no one else to talk to. All are tell tail signs that your extrovert buddy has had enough! Let me try to explain what this terror is like for extroverts. You want to go out, because there's no one around, but you don't want to go out because there's no one to go with. You can't decide if you should move or just lay there and give up. Then you start imagining that everyone has really impressive lives and epic plans. And if it gets really bad yous start imagining that they are all together doing something amazing thinking that they are so clever they found a way to leave you out. Then the internal battle happens because you know this is all irrational but on the other hand it really feels like the apocalypse. It's terrible! What you hope of course is that someone will come save you from you plight but really all you need is a text acknowledging that you're still part of things.

Sometimes I Just Need You There

To all my Introvert friends, we extroverts are a lot to handle sometimes and for that I'm sorry. I can only imagine the kind of pressure you feel when your extrovert friend calls you up and wants to hang out. You might have to leave your safe place and have social interactions you're not comfortable with. I speak for myself only but I imagine there are others like me out there who feel this way! If you are my friend and you are an introvert, I know this. I understand that a lot of the things that I love are very difficult for you but please understand that there is a reason I adore introverts. You might not go to the bar or a festival with me (maybe you would) but quite often to do the list of things I need to do or truly enjoy that activity I've been looking forward to all week I need to be left alone with out being alone. You, my introvert friends, are in someways the most supportive people in my life because all I really need is for you to be there. We don't have to go anywhere, it doesn't have to be a special occasion, we don't have to talk, we don't even have to look at each other. I just need you there, even if you're on the other side of the room, doing what ever it was you would be doing alone. You are with me and that's enough.

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