Monday, June 23, 2014

I am an extrovert.

I recently came across this picture...
...and it got me thinking that extroverts seem to be getting a bad rap.

I've seen a lot of articles recently about: "how to care for your introvert" and "unique challenges of the introvert"and maybe the most upsetting "the misunderstood introvert." While, yes, I agree that introverts have their own unique set of obstacles to overcome, it seems like the idea of being an introvert are over-romanticized.

For the sake of being informative, let's just give a basic definition of what makes an introvert or extrovert:
introvert: inward-looking, reserved, and withdrawn.
extrovert: outgoing, overtly expressive, and gregarious.
So with the very basic definitions, we can see that the biggest difference is that one is reserved and the other is not. Ok. I think it also bears stating that "introverted" and "shy" are not synonyms. 

Again, I totally see that introverts have some unique and difficult obstacles to overcome. However, extroverts also have some huge obstacles of their own. I'm just going to go through some of the big hurdles I've encountered.

1. Always appearing desperate.

I'm not sure that I always come off as desperate to those around us, and I don't feel desperate, but I always think that it is how others around me are perceiving me. Does that make sense? Here are a few examples:

~Making new friends. When I meet someone I want to be friends with, I don't see the point in waiting to hang out with them. If I want to be friends, I want to be friends. I'll send them a text and say "Hey, lets get coffee soon-- you free this week?" Now, I feel like I'm just being friendly, but it has been pointed out to me that it may seem a little desperate or overbearing or "too soon." My brain does not compute this. Why is it not ok for me to message someone I met and want to be friends with? I like people, and I'm a likable person.... so why would I "wait a few days" or "see if I run into them again"??

~The worst... I mean, the absolute fucking worst.... is when it comes to building relationships with guys. By relationship I mean both friendship or potential romantic relationship. Generally speaking, for both dates and potential new friends, I like to follow-up after hanging out. In my opinion, I want to be clear that I enjoyed spending time with the person, and that I'm interested in doing so again. Granted, I definitely use different language if its a potential new female friend, new male friend, or someone I want to date. However, I think its polite to say 'hay I had fun with you, lets meet up again.'

I recently met a few people I thought could be potential friends. Went the normal route of following-up after hanging out. Even sent an extra message because I came across a website I had referred to but had forgotten the name of. After a few super short messages, I got the impression that I was getting the brush-off. Totally fine, but I thought we enjoyed each other's company in person. Did I over-do it with the messages? Did I come off as too interested or needy? That's not how I wanted to come off, but its a weird panic that I, and my other extroverted friends talk about a lot.

Summary: I act in a way I feel is polite. Get weird responses. Feel insecure. Panic. Commiserate with other extroverts.

2. Being expected to be the ring-leader.

~I cannot tell you how many times I went to large dinners, where at the end of the meal, money was just thrown at me at the end, as if "here, you handle the bill."

"So where are we going next?"
"I don't know."
"Come on you always have a plan!"

~People slacking because they expect I'll just do it.

3. Getting weird reactions when I'm sad/angry.

Extroverts are supposed to be happy and outgoing, didn't you know? If ever I'm sad or dealing with an negative emotion, my more peripheral friends don't know how to handle it. Close friends know whats up, but those on the edges are super surprised and turned-off. I'm human. I'm entitled to periods of being something other than supermegahappyalways.

4. Getting berated when I say I don't like to read.

Because reading = smart. You can't be smart if you don't read. Saying I didn't like Harry Potter or I have exactly zero interest in reading whateverfadseries gets me a lot of grief.

5. Constantly wanting to be around people.

It's not that I need to be fully engaged in conversation at all times, but I generally feel a lot better when other people are around. Even just having someone in the same room is enough. I just don't like being alone for long periods of time.

Loneliness is a huge problem for extroverts. It comes on really quickly. I've spent a lot of time in the house by myself since coming back home. Long periods of solitary time really, really affect my mood. If no one is home, I fake it by putting the tv on-- even if I'm not watching it.

6. Talking out my problems.

This one is easy: if I have a big problem, the more people I talk it out with, the better I feel.

7. Chatting with strangers.

Chatting too much with cashiers, the guy who scans my card at the gym, people behind me in line, the person making my coffee, waiters, waitresses, people at the next table.

I would say I walk away feeling cool maybe 50% of the time.... the rest is a whole lot of brush-off shame.

8. Recharging time.

Introverts need alone time. Extroverts need social time. I feel like this one is a particularly frustrating issue. Its easier to understand when someone is upset/stressed/tired and need alone time. But after a stressful day, all I want to do is hang out with friends... no matter how tired I am. I think this is another one of those instances where extroverts come off as needy.

9. Seeming too clingy.

If I want to hang out, I'll ask someone to hang out. This seems particularly clingy/needy with new friends-- but be assured-- it's not! If I was messaging you every day with randomness AND asking you to hang, then it would be clingy/needy.

10. Not being able to process and feeling blown off when people "don't feel like going out."

Again, doesn't compute.

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