Thursday, August 21, 2014

What if...

Not too too long ago, a lot of articles were going viral about being an introvert versus being an extrovert. We learned how to treat an introvert correctly and not to judge introverts for being... introverted.

I've tended to call myself introverted for a long time now, but recently I've started to wonder. I've been working at the Bristol Renaissance Fair for the whole summer season now, and while I come away tired each weekend - working 2 twelve hour days in a row in the summer heat, wearing a stifling costume and being on your feet all day is an endurance trial - I also come away inspired and energized in a way I haven't felt in a long time.

This is even though I spend the entire weekend interacting with people - meeting up with my fair friends in the evenings, improvising and interacting with patrons all day, I really do not get much time alone.

I then come home to my rather isolated job - either working quietly on legal issues or freelance writing - and immediately feel sad, drained, and exhausted.

Given that we've seemed to reach an agreement that introversion versus extroversion refers to how we gain our energy - either feeling drained by being among others, or feeling increasingly energized the more we are around people - it would appear that I might actually be an extrovert.

Arriving at this conclusion is kind of throwing me for a loop, as I've been a self-proclaimed introvert for so long. But maybe I did not realize that I'm actually an extrovert because I've just been afraid of people for most of my life. Is it possible to be an extrovert with social anxiety?

The story of why I'm afraid of people is long, boring, and probably is the same reason anybody's afraid of people - a combination of oversensitivity, having some stunted social development for whatever reason, being kind of awkward and weird, and some overarching insecurity, and you can quickly start to see yourself as an introvert, even if what you really want is to be around people. You convince yourself you don't, though, because it's too scary.

So, my thought is, what if I'm really just an extrovert who never learned how to properly extrovert? What if I'm just... a really socially awkward extrovert? Somehow, when I thought of this earlier, I identified with it and suddenly felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin. 

Do you identify yourself as introverted or extroverted, or maybe "something else"? Are we all too focused on this idea of introversion vs. extroversion, or is it a useful characterization to achieve a better understanding of ourselves and each other?

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