This is a bit of a personal post today, so please bear with me whilst I try and string my messy thoughts in to coherent sentences!
I am an extreme introvert. In basically every personality test I have ever taken the result has come back that I’m over 73% introverted, which is apparently quite an uncommonly high number. I often prefer my own company. I like having a small circle of friends. I like being isolated. I like being an introvert.
But sometimes, the 27% of me that intensely craves sociality will rear it’s head and catch me off balance. I often struggle with the internal fight between my introverted and extroverted sides. Can anyone relate? Here are my thoughts!
It can be hard to say no
The introverted side of me would like nothing more than to go home, close all the doors and curtains, get into bed and curl up with a good book and a hot chocolate.
But, the extroverted slither of me has extreme FOMO. I don’t want to miss social gatherings, I don’t want to let my friends down. I don’t always want to be the homebody that just wants to stay inside reading a book, so I often don’t say no. I socialise, at times as much as I’m invited to and unavoidably my mental health takes the toll.
Socialising is exhausting
Being an extreme introvert, I find socialising absolutely physically and mentally draining. I work in a large office environment where there are lots of wonderful, lovely people around me. However, I often end the day feeling frazzled simply through being around so many people. This often means I have to opt out of work social events, not out of a disregard or disinterest, but out of necessity! This is a real shame as I work with such an incredible bunch of people and I’d really love to share their company more.
I’ve always found this exhaustion hard to understand as I genuinely do love people – I just can’t help the way my body responds to long periods of socialising.
It’s only in the last few years since I’ve been more self aware that I’ve realised my exhaustion after socialising is linked to the extremity of my introverted side… I had no idea why it happened before.
I’ve definitely found it difficult to be upfront and honest with friends and family about my struggles. I am always worried that I’m coming across as disinterested or like I have better things to be doing than to hang out and have a full social calendar, or that I’m just plain flakey! This in the past made it difficult for me to create and maintain new friendships with people who are yet to understand my ways.
However, I’ve been trying to let people in more and discuss it. I do feel for sure like there’s some kind of stigma around it, and I haven’t seen much discussion around it either.
I feel like Rupi Kaur sums it up perfectly (although I don’t experience this in at all as negative a way as she portrays it in the illustration), in the excerpt below, from her book “The Sun and Her Flowers”:
This isn’t something I’m naturally comfortable with, and I’m always trying to push myself to appear more extroverted than I am – as it’s definitely pretty difficult in some situations when you’re introverted and all you want to do is hide. That can be a real struggle as I do feel comfortable in my own skin, but not comfortable with the effects that my introverted side can often have on my relationships with the people around me.
In a way I also can’t complain though, the fact that I am such an introvert makes me who I am. It means I have the time to foster my incredible hobbies and make the most of them. It also means the friendships I do make are far deeper. And, when I find someone who is like me and who understands the difficulties I sometimes face it’s such a blessing!
Learning it’s okay
I’m never going to be the loud girl who’s the centre of attention and has lots of friends. But, that’s absolutely okay. I also think one of the things that draws me to blogging and online communities is that I can make friends and ‘spend time’ with people, often without the exhausting side effects!
I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels like they live this struggle. I can only imagine it to be even harder for people who have a 50/50 split in their introverted and extroverted nature.
We all just need to remember to be true to ourselves, and to take time for ourselves. Because, if you want to go home, do nothing and be your own, that’s okay! As long as you still do put the effort in with the people around you, allow yourself to be selfish – that’s something I’m learning to do after many periods of putting other people’s need for socialising over my own for solitude.
It can be a pretty exhausting and draining battle, but I love both my introvert and extrovert sides equally. I’m glad to be aware of them, and now to also know my limits whilst trying to maintain healthy relationships with the people I care about. I’m incredibly lucky to have such a support network of friends and family around me who are completely okay with it when I flake and they don’t hear from me for a while.
Do you struggle with this too? Or, do you experience the battle between your introverted and extroverted side in a different way?
Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories and see if there’s anyone out there who’s experiencing the same as me.