I've seen many many things online recently on what it means to be an introvert, but it seems to me that many of these articles are making quite some assumptions about what it means to be an extrovert. As a very strong extrovert, here are a few things I would like my friends to know:
1. Just because I am an extrovert does not mean that I thrive in a situation where I’m in a room full of people that I don’t know. In fact, as an extrovert, this is one of my least favourite situations to be in! Why? Because I need to be involved in what’s going on to enjoy myself, and I also really need people to like me. Trying to convince so many new people that they should like me is intimidating to say the least.
Along those lines - when going somewhere new, I try at all costs to go with someone I know so that I have at least one person I can chat with, especially if I find it too hard to break in to the crowd. Having just one person who has my back usually gives me the extra confidence I need to introduce myself to everyone else and his dog.
2. Just because I am an extrovert does not mean that I like to talk all of the time. I actually love to listen (I’m not sure ALL of my friends will agree, but when I’m at home with my hubby who is a major introvert, he tends to talk a lot more than I do).
3. The main thing about being an extrovert is that I need to live my life in relation to other people in order to feel sane. Being in a house on my own all day makes me feel panicky, depressed, and lonely.
4. As an extrovert, I gain energy by being with other people who are COMFORTABLE. New people are very uncomfortable and, while it is exciting to meet new people, it is very hard work for the first few meetings.
Don’t get me wrong - as an extrovert I do love to meet new people - but this is only easy if I’m on familiar ground and feel in control of the situation.
5. The way I gain energy is by doing things together with others. It does not have to involve talking. It is okay if it is everyone else talking. In fact, if I am tired, I want everyone else to keep chatting around me, and not mind that I’m just sitting and listening.
6. I like to read. Very much. And I don’t like people distracting me from my book. The reason I am reading my book in a public area (cafe / dining hall / lunch room) is that, like I mentioned in point 3, I need to see other people to feel sane. I need to know that everyone else is still there and still living life. I do not necessarily need to interact, and often don’t want to.
7. I do need time to myself, frequently, otherwise I can still go a bit nuts. This could be 5 minutes in the bathroom or it could be half a day watching movies or hiding in bed. I do usually like to know that there is someone else in the house at the time, or only a phone call away though.
8. As an extrovert, problems don’t make sense in my head. I am much more able to problem solve if I can do it while talking to someone else. If I keep a problem in my head until I find a solution, I am much more likely to exacerbate, misunderstand and be overwhelmed by the problem.
How should you react when I’m problem solving aloud? Please just nod and add the occasional listening noise. feel free to engage in the problem, but you don’t always have to.