Being an introvert in a society geared towards extroversion
In a society of reality television shows, dance shows and singing competitions, where your Instagram presence is paramount and if you struggle to speak in public with confidence you seem bound to flounder – it can feel pretty daunting to be an introvert. We seem to applaud (literally and metaphorically) those who ‘put themselves out there’ through endless ‘selfies’ and ‘status updates’ and it can feel like the only way to be a success in this world is as an extrovert. Difficult then for those of us who prefer a quieter, more solitary existence. It can feel as though there is huge pressure to keep up with the natural extroverts and this can be exhausting.
Like any personality characteristics how outgoing you are is a continuum not a binary thing and may also be context dependent – you might find yourself able to be outspoken in some situations while finding yourself wanting to run for the hills when faced with others. You might look at friends who work all week and then spend each weekend out engaging in high octane social activities that leave you feeling exhausted just looking at the itinerary they share on Facebook as you wonder how on earth they find the energy to do it all?
I remember spending a long time wondering why it was that I was simply incapable of doing all the social activities I saw some of my friends getting involved in of a weekend without going back to work on a Monday morning feeling completely drained. I considered myself an extrovert and it was only as I started to investigate why I found socialising so tiring that I realised that despite my ability to speak confidently at conferences, run training courses and stand on stage and sing, I am in fact an introvert.
How can this be? I hear you ask. Well, here’s the thing – being an introvert does not necessarily mean you can’t do the things listed above, it just means that when you participate in activities that require extroversion you need time out to recharge your batteries, so to speak. So, after a week at work where I have spent several days running a training course I do need a quiet weekend of walking my dog and reading a good book and that is OK.
Where extroverts recharge by going out and spending time with people, introverts often need quiet time on their own.
Like most things it is not about one being better or worse than the other, it is about understanding what works for you so that you can build the right kind of restorative activities into your week to stay happy
and emotionally healthy.