If you’re like me, you’re an extroverted introvert. You can be outgoing, yet you desperately need your alone time.
You can’t do that. You’re one or the other.
No, this is how I am. And that’s how many other people are. But we’re often misunderstood.
Take for instance, people often see me as completely, inarguably, extroverted because that’s the personality that gets the most attention. The other side of me, the side that stays home and reads all day, doesn’t get any attention (but I love doing that, take a look at my reading list if you don’t believe me).
Let me tell you what happened a few weekends ago.
I spent Saturday alone, reading, writing, getting errands done. At 8:54 pm, I got a text from a friend, asking what I was up to. He was making plans to go out. I responded, “Nothing. What’s up?”
Fifteen minutes passed and he didn’t respond. I wanted to go out and considered calling him to see what was happening, but also wanted to sit in bed and read a book before going to bed at 10 pm. So I didn’t call.
Another fifteen minutes passed and I finally made the call. It took half an hour and a significant amount of energy for me to put down my book, pick up my phone, and call him to figure out the plan for that night.
So instead of staying in and reading myself to sleep, I left my apartment at 9:30 pm to go out for drinks.
And you know what I did? I danced. And I was obnoxious. And I had tons of fun.
But the next day? I sat at a coffee shop and read a book. I did some grocery shopping, cooked, and ate alone while watching Netflix. I spoke to almost no one. I only texted my friend who I went out with the night before to see how he was doing. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And I loved it.
So yes I’m outgoing. But not all the time.
The fact is, extroversion and introversion isn’t an either/or type of thing. It’s a spectrum and you can lie anywhere along that spectrum.
For us, we happen to be very close to the middle and even flip-flop between the two.
I know, it’s confusing.
Some of us learned to become more extroverted because we realize that the basis of human nature is grounded in interacting with each other – it’s kind of unavoidable.
To relieve you of some confusion, here are a few things we’d like you to know about extroverted introverts.
1. We’re often quiet, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk.
We most likely have plenty of thoughts we want to talk about, but think that they won’t interest you. We’d rather listen to you talk because we want to learn about you and we know you’d enjoy talking.
2. And just because we like being around people doesn’t mean we want to talk.
Talking requires a lot of effort. For us, being around people is often enough to make us happy. I know, it’s a little confusing.
3. We like hanging out one on one better than groups. We’ll listen to you forever.
One on one hangouts are more intimate and we like that. It means we get a chance to actually get to know you and have a thorough conversation about what we real;y care about instead of making small talk that an entire group can contribute to.
4. We suck at responding to texts because sometimes we don’t want to talk – to anyone.
It’s not that we hate people or that we’re annoyed. Sometimes we’ve just been around people so much that we’re exhausted from talking and texting and Skyping and we just don’t want to talk. We’re totally open to hanging out in person, just don’t expect us to talk too much when we’re in one of these moods.
5. We’re open to meeting your other friends. Just let us know ahead of time that we’ll be meeting new people so we can mentally prepare ourselves to socialize.
We’re not closed off to meeting new people, it’s just a very exhausting thing to do. So we literally have to prepare ourselves to socialize. We have to get into the mindset of, “Okay, I’m going to be talking a lot.”
6. Despite needing our alone time, we do get lonely.
It’s difficult to balance between alone time and not feeling lonely. Often we’ll want to go out because we feel alone, but our apartment is so comfortable that we won’t want to leave.
7. It’s hard to get us out, but we’ll have a great time when we go out.
Sometimes we’ll require some coercing to get us out of the house. Again, it’s not that we don’t want to go out, we just start thinking, “What if it’s not fun? I could totally be reading my book. What if the tickets are sold out? What if they don’t actually want me to go and they’re just inviting me to be nice? We begin to draw into our own heads and make up things that could go wrong and use them as excuses to not go out.
8. We’ll happily chat up your parents/friends/girlfriend/boyfriend/boss/etc., but once it’s over, we require silence.
After so much talking, we really need to recharge.
9. We’re not always the most talkative person in a group, but if someone is in need of a social life jacket, we can step up and offer that.
Again, we’ll happily chat someone up if the situation arises. We get that conversation can be uncomfortable, so if we see someone who is worse than us at holding a conversation, then we’ll take the initiative to make them feel more comfortable.
9. We won’t plan a party, but if we do, it’s a really big deal for us.
We can’t imagine hosting an event solely for our own sake. We don’t even think people would want to come to a party that we host. So if we do host something, it’s a big deal for us.
10. We live in our heads even if it seems like we put ourselves out there.
Even when we’re being outgoing, our thoughts are still running and analyzing the situation.
11. Because we can be outgoing and calculated at the same time, sometimes we end up being leaders.
But that does not mean we want praise, nor do we want to talk about how great we are.
People seem to think that we’re fit to be leaders. We can stand up and talk in front of crowds when we need to. We can make decisions when we need to. But we often analyze ourselves and don’t think highly of our skill sets. Sometimes we don’t believe we’re good enough to lead. We always think we can be better so praise often makes us cringe.
12. We bounce between wanting to be noticed for our hard work to panicking over the thought of somebody else paying more than 30 seconds of attention to us.
Sometimes we want attention, other times it’s hard to believe anyone would spend more than 10 seconds on us.
13. People think we’re flirtatious. We’re not.
We understand that interacting with people is a necessary part of life. So we make an effort to do it intentionally, and genuinely want people to know that they have our undivided interest and attention.
14. We get mad at ourselves for wanting to stay in and letting our friends down.
Which is why we sometimes force ourselves to go out. To let our friends know that we enjoy spending time with them, not because we want to be out.
15. We’re at your happiest in places like coffee shops and cafés: surrounded by people, but still closed off and keeping to yourself.
We just like being around people, even if they’re strangers. It’s the compromise of being around people but not having to talk to them.
16. We have a constant inner struggle of controlling our introverted side.
It’s frustrating because we’ll realize when we start withdrawing into our own minds and become extremely introspective. It happens when we’re in really big crowds. And the only thought is, “Oh no, it’s happening. No. I have to talk to someone now. But it’s so difficult. No. Yes, you have to talk or else you’re going to end up in your head for the rest of the night.”
17. We really don’t like small talk.
We’d avoid small talk if we could. We want to really get to know you. We want to know what you think about, what your goals are, what your family is like. We don’t want to talk about how bad the weather is. But if that’s what you’re comfortable talking about, then we’ll talk about it.
18. We don’t actually have a staple “group” of friends.
We often pick and choose one or two individuals from different social groups that make up our closest friends. But we make this handful of best friends our life and we’d do anything for them.
19. If we like you, we really like you.
We’re extremely picky about who we spend our time and energy on. If we’ve hung out multiple times, take it as a compliment.
Seriously. If it’s such a struggle to talk to people and if we get so exhausting going out, it’s a big deal if we’re willing to spend our time and energy with you. It isn’t to say that we’re full of ourselves. We just wouldn’t want to spend that energy with people whose company we don’t enjoy.
By David Khim for Lifehack.org
David Ly Khim is a content and growth marketer for Sidekick. He writes about marketing, career development, and productivity. When he isn’t working, he’s in the middle of a book or on the dance floor.