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Realising I’m an extrovert

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I’ve spent a huge portion of my life telling the world (and myself) that I don’t like people. It’s nothing personal: people are lovely I’m sure. I just find them hard work. I always assumed I was a bit of an introvert, preferring my own company; chatting on social media is plenty of interaction where I can more easily create boundaries and step away with ease.

But this weekend I realised I’m wrong. That I am the very definition of an extrovert. That is, I am energised by social interaction, and isolation leaves me anxious, withdrawn and at its very worst, depressed.

You’d think I’d have been clued in when I went self-employed originally and found myself chatting up the postman and inviting in religious callers for a cup of tea, until the isolation (amongst other things) pushed me back into full time employment.

You’d think I’d have been clued in when, before Gaz moved in, I would regularly ask Gaz to come over for an extra night because the thought of spending those hours alone in the time between my kids going to bed and them waking up in the morning drove me to despair (and crying into my wine).

You’d think I’d have been clued in when, after going back to self-employment in July, after a short period of “yay I can do whatever I like” the reality of sitting alone day in, day out — particularly during the summer when I didn’t even have the kids to break the monotony — hit me hard, giving me one of my longest ‘low’ periods yet.

Nope, I was oblivious. I knew working alone was getting to me, but I didn’t realise to what extent. However, as a bit of an ‘experiment’ I asked Gaz if he’d take me out on Saturday. We went to a local pub that usually has live music over the weekend, and I drank and danced and talked to people and connected and told people how fab they looked and — aside from one wanker who wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone — generally felt energised and happy and awesome. I’m still feeling ‘high’ today!

Maybe I really was an introvert, and I have changed as I’ve grown. Or maybe that’s what I told myself so that I could more easily deal with every past attempt at socialising being questioned, controlled, critiqued. It’s easier to pretend you don’t like people than to admit your relationship is failing, after all.

OK, so this weekend was just one occasion. I can’t guarantee that getting out and being with people is the answer to my problems. It sure as hell has given me the motivation to attempt to do something about them, though. I need to stop talking about “getting out of the house” and actually do it. Game on…

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

10 comments so far

  1. Tara said:

    I find this interesting that you’re realising that you’re an extrovert! I think it’s great that you know it because it’s really important we know ourselves and how we thrive. I mean, I’ve known that I was an introvert since 18, but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I finally understood exactly what it meant to be an introvert. Being around too much interaction exhausts me, and I now understand that I need to recharge away from people, away from the chattering, and just be alone with my Kindle or something.

    Good luck with trying to go out more! :)

  2. Angela said:

    I really honestly think coming to the realization also has alot to do with age. We’re in an actual settling period now, where we kind of have a good grasp on life itself and what we’re doing, so it makes it easier to come to these realizations. I started to notice the same things about myself around the same time age wise, right before I hit 30. I too had always assumed I was an introvert because so many people and things annoy me. Turns out I’m just kind of an asshole, but I am an extrovert and I do feed off of social situations!

  3. Hev said:

    Here is a surprising fact. You can actually be both. My father is an extrovert/introvert. He likes being around people get re-energized by it, etc. At the same time though he need the quiet alone time also.

    I on the other hand, have all the symptoms you have when you are alone when I am around people. Hence, why most of my friends are online & I have no plans of ever actually meeting them. Dealing with them in person would add so much pressure even though we can talk & talk online I know I will “clam up” in person. I have been this way since I was a toddler, according to my parents.

    The best thing I can suggest. Go out when you feel the need & stay home when you feel the need.

  4. Chantelle said:

    You just sound human to me. ^^

    Honestly, these days, I question the concept of intro/extroversion. It doesn’t seem particularly helpful as most are probably a mix of both because people are complex and whether or not someone feels energized/drained after hanging out with others depends on a ridiculous amount of things outside of intro/extroversion like who those people are, what’s going to be done, the amount of people, the individual’s self-confidence and mental health, how the individual’s friends/family/spouse are going to react to this outing, etc.

    It reminds me too much of the left/right brain discourse, which is a complete BS myth. But with that said, while I think the vast majority are mixed intro/extroverts, some people are probably extremely one or the other and for them the description is helpful. For everyone else, it just serves to create a box/false image. Instead of trying to force individuals into neat categories, I think it would be better if people looked at their actions and those of others holistically (even though that takes more brainpower).

    • Raisa said:

      I think I agree with you, Chantelle. If anything, it’s more of a spectrum as opposed to an either/or. I’ve said before that social interaction tire me out, but the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that’s not always the case.

      There are people that I love to be around with, who energize me. I think it’s simply that people I’m not familiar with tire me out. I never feel weary of being around friends I love.

    • Jem said:

      I’m not so fussed about the label, it was just easier to use it than to write “Realising I’m the sort of person who is highly energised by social situations” as my title ;)

      • Chantelle said:

        Fair enough. :D I’m probably sensitive to stereotypes because I find myself correcting people daily, “Actually, I …” because of them and all the microaggressions they cause (e.g. “Why is your skin so dark?” “But, you like books…”).

  5. Jessica said:

    o.O I still haven’t figured out if I’m an introvert or an extrovert – everyone claims that I’m an introvert because I read constantly, like to write, etc. My retort is usually that those are things that I enjoy doing – along with attending sporting events, going to museums. I think oftentimes we convince ourselves that we’re a specific thing because people tell us that we should be a certain way. But anyhow, I’m done being reflective and wish you the best of luck in trying to get out more. :D

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