I recently wrote an article about extroverted introverts and how we’re essentially an “introvert in wolf’s clothing”. It began gaining attention, and I was quickly contacted by someone I know who refused to believe I’m introverted. They basically told me that I couldn’t be because I can have fun at a house party, and I don’t fit their narrow views of what makes an introvert.
It was frustrating to feel like I had to defend who I am inside. I’ve never seen an extrovert defending the fact that they enjoy social situations, so why are introverts forced to excuse our preferences?
This is one of the biggest struggles of being an extroverted introvert, but it’s definitely not the only one.
When you can pass for an extrovert, people don’t really look further than that. So if you mention to friends that you actually consider yourself to be an introvert, they’ll likely be shocked and disbelieving. Too many people have told me that I’m wrong and not actually an introvert, as if I‘m not the best person to determine this.
This can lead extroverted introverts often feel conflicted in their actions, as they’re determined to keep up with extroverts and yet also feel the need to prove that they are actually introverts. It can make you feel like you need to dampen your social tendencies or exaggerate your introverted side.
You know yourself best, so the only opinion that matters is yours. If you know that you’re an introvert, or an extroverted introvert, then that’s your truth.
Extroverted introverts have the rare ability to exist in both worlds. They can play the partygoer for a night, and they can happily stay home alone for the following nights. But when other people don’t have this tendency, they’ll fixate on the side that benefits them most.
It most commonly happens with extroverts. I have a lot of extroverted friends, and they simply forget that it doesn’t come as easily to me. They’ll invite more people along without giving me notice as they’d never mind that. They’ll make plans to go on a crazy party holiday and not recognise that this wouldn’t be my idea of fun.
It’s well-intended but frustrating, as I have both sides to me, and I want that to be acknowledged by the people in my life. I don’t want to feel like I’m choosing between my inner extrovert and introvert every day and being asked to leave the introvert behind.
Society favours extroverts. I see it at my job in the kind of people who get hired and the feedback given for interviews. I see it in my friends regarding who is most liked and how introverts are discussed. Society loves a flashy extrovert.
So when you don’t fit that description, when you prefer staying home or going to small social situations, you easily feel like you’re the issue.
Why don’t I want to go clubbing? Why do I tire out so quickly with people? Why do I wish I could be home with a good book right now?
As an extroverted introvert, this concern only increases. Because you can exist in extroverted spaces. You can play the role so well that people don’t even realise your true feelings. Then you’re left to wonder why you can’t just be that tad more extroverted. You begin to feel guilty and believe that you’re not trying hard enough.
Many extroverted introverts will push themselves past their boundaries because they’re halfway there anyway, so it feels like a smaller leap. But not being true to yourself is exhausting and lonely.
The issue is that society still needs to accept how incredible introverts are. Society and everyone in it needs to adapt, not you.
Ideally, you’ll have a good mix of extroverts and introverts as friends, as a combination produces the best results. But in practice, extroverts tend to gravitate towards their fellow party animals, and introverts will find the homebodies.
When you’re an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert, you’re always missing that one part of yourself in your friends. It took me years to recognise that I’m an introvert at heart, so a lot of my friends are extroverts. And I adore them, but they just don’t fully understand me. They don’t get why I don’t like going out since we bonded over parties. They don’t get that I need nights alone, so even if I’m not busy, I’m still not free for plans.
I also find it difficult to bond with introverts as I come across as an extrovert; it’s a reaction to my social anxiety and a role I’m too rehearsed in. This means that they don’t realise I’m just like them at heart.
When you fall between the two categories, you struggle to find the people that really get you. Maybe I should start a club for extroverted introverts, where we can discuss books and go out for dinner.
Like I said, as an extroverted introvert, you’ll often try to keep up with the extroverts. You’ll go along with their social plans, even though you're just counting down the hours until you can finally go home and finish that episode of Grey’s Anatomy, or whatever your show is.
The result is that you are tired most of the time. This is physical as introverts and extroverts are believed to have different sleep requirements. It’s also emotional, as your social battery is completely drained.
But being an extroverted introvert, you won’t accept that as easily. You’ll keep going as you’re determined to keep up with the rest. But they exist on a different kind of fuel, as they obtain their energy from this and handle social situations with ease. You’re not like that, and that’s okay.
So stop exhausting yourself and just embrace that whilst you can dip your toe in their world, you shouldn’t always. Sometimes that toe needs to be curled up on the couch with a good book.
The biggest struggles surrounding extroverted introverts stem from existing in a society that only appreciates one side of them. Introverts are vital, and it’s time we recognise that. For example, did you know that introverts actually make the best managers? This is surprising considering that most companies have subtly extroverted criteria when looking for a manager. You can find out more about this and introverts in general in Susan Cain’s incredible book - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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