Today I would like to tell you a story about an introverted extrovert.
You might be asking yourself, what is an introverted extrovert? Introverted extroverts are people who, from an outsider’s perspective, can only be described as introverts… that is, they’re quiet, introspective, and they often keep to themselves. On the inside, however, they long for strong relationships, and they need to be around other people in order to feel truly valued. Basically, they are introverted by nature, but extroverted by nurture. They would prefer to live an extroverted life, but they just don’t know exactly how to go about it.
This, my friend(s), is my story. I am an introverted extrovert.
To illustrate just how complicated such a lifestyle can be, here are some posters I found on the internet.
So how do you care for an introverted extrovert? By using a combination of strategies from each list. But nobody would ever do that, because nobody expects a person to be both introverted and extroverted.
I, however, do not believe that anyone is completely introverted or completely extroverted. We all have a little bit of both in us–that’s my opinion, at least. There might be just a few exceptions to that rule, but not many.
My journey to introverted extroversion has been a long, arduous one. When I was little, I had such a vivid imagination that I didn’t really need friends. I was perfectly fine just hanging out with myself. I had friends, but they were just an added luxury–not a necessity. As I grew older, and especially when I started college, I developed the need to associate with others. Naturally, as soon as I developed this need, I found it much more difficult to actually make friends. Isn’t that how it always goes, though? The more you need something, the harder it is to get it. That is just one of the unfair things about life.
I started feeling the need to have friends in sixth grade. I was about 11 years old, otherwise known as that awkward “pre-teen” phase. My friendship-making skills have improved drastically for yours truly since then, but I still find that incessant need to constantly associate with others, as if the amount of time I spend with others actually determines my worth!
In all honesty, I wish I could go back to my childhood mentality. I valued solitude back then. It didn’t matter if I was by myself or surrounded by loved ones–it was all the same to me. I was living in an introverted world, and I was an introverted boy.
I’m still introverted, but modern society does not value introversion. So I feel an increasing pressure to become more extroverted because that’s what society teaches us is acceptable. College especially seems to emphasize this perspective. It almost seems like college students are always expected to be social, just like they are expected to stress over schoolwork or eat pizza five times a week. I want to enjoy solitude again, but an extroverted version of myself has been created as a result of my college-student status. This new extroverted self is constantly fighting against my introverted self. It would be so sad if you had to stay in tonight, my extroverted self says. (Just to clarify, though, I do not actually hear distinct voices in my head, so please don’t refer me to a psychiatrist after reading this post.)
I find it especially difficult to be introverted on a Friday or Saturday night. On any other given night, I’m usually fine going about my normal, introverted life. But on the weekends, my extroverted self screams at me (again, not literally) that I need to do something social. I physically can’t allow myself to spend a Friday or Saturday night by my lonesome. I’ve tried it before, and I always make plans at the last minute in order to escape the shame of an evening in solitude. The younger version of me would shake his head in disgust at my desperate need for weekend company… then he would most likely try to strangle me (I was a surprisingly violent child). Why, why can’t I just spend a weekend night alone? Why can’t I just take some time off from being social? Why can’t I just throw a me party every once in a while?
Unfortunately, it feels as though a me party is simply out of the question. Thus is my life as an introverted extrovert. It’s rough trying to live a life that goes against what comes to me naturally. I wonder if other people experience a similar dilemma in their lives? Maybe I’m crazy (and many people have suggested that I probably am), but I kind of doubt I’m alone in this one.
If anyone else suffers from the introverted extrovert dilemma, there is hope. As much as I think Hannah Montana is the worst, I think we should take her advice and get the best of both worlds! We can work on exploring the extroverted side of life while still embracing our inner introversion. There is nothing wrong with being who you are, after all–unless who you are is a serial killer.
A quote comes to mind: “Whatever thou art, act well thy part.” So if you’re an introvert, be a good introvert. Don’t hesitate to be more outgoing, though. Still try building relationships with others. But don’t feel obligated to meet anyone’s expectations about how outgoing you need to be. If somebody tells you you’re too quiet, punch that person in the face. OR just ignore them… yeah, that’s probably a better (though admittedly less gratifying and fun) idea.