Hey, ‘Are you an extrovert or an introvert?’
Growing up we all have been slammed with this question on our face at least once. If you introduced yourself as an introvert, the next thing you heard was,’Oh! So, you don’t like to talk and have fun like all of us? Are you scared or shy?’ Why are you so boring to talk to? and stuff like that. This is what an introvert gets to hear when they reveal their personality.
While on the other hand if you introduced yourself as an extrovert, there may be chances people came up to you because they just couldn’t find anyone else – Ah! After all, they know you as a bubbly extrovert who is outgoing, overly energetic, loves to party, can literally talk about any and every topic and so much more.
For years, I considered myself an extrovert. It was an interesting incident that compelled me to think so.
It all began when I was in grade three and my English teacher had asked each student to come in front of the class and tell aloud if they were an introvert or an extrovert as part of a personality assessment. I decided to go for an ‘extrovert’ when my turn came up. It was because when students revealed themselves as extroverts, everyone clapped for them as it meant being all happy and carefree while introvert meant being shy and timid. So, I got a nice reason for people to clap for me loudly in unison.
Well, it’s been 12 years since that incident and a lot has happened since – my mind and heart have conflicted with one another whether I’m an introvert or extrovert.
It’s only when I discovered that I am an outgoing introvert, that they have found synchrony with one another.
Yes, I am an outgoing introvert and I love my life that way. Sorry, I’m not going to fake my personality just because you find me boring at times. Yes, I love being online on my social media handles. Sorry, you can’t expect me to pick up your call and be chatty just the way you want all the time. Yes, I love my personal space and sometimes love to resort to seclusion. Sorry, I’m not going to turn up for the prom next week because I’ve got an interesting book to read. Yes, I love absorbing myself in silence and moments of retrospection. Sorry, if you thought something was wrong with me, I was just recapitulating something.
So, that’s the person I am – a person who enjoys being exuberant, enthusiastic, and sometimes chatty while at the same time loves to indulge in warm and silent moments with no one to interrupt.
I wasn’t always an outgoing extrovert. It was very recently that I had embarked on a journey to find my true self that I had discovered my genuine personality as an outgoing introvert.
Let me share my journey from being an overexcited extrovert to a more cheerful outgoing introvert now.
For a very long time, I was an extrovert person who loved to socially mingle with people, who always took out time to complete tasks for others, who never uttered ‘NO’ to anyone, who loved exploring new places and meeting acquaintances. I was that girl who would appear at a friend’s party even if I was invited just fifteen minutes before the commencement time. I would always pretend to be happy even if I was submerged in heavy emotions deep inside. I would well out my tears in the darkness of the night when nobody could hear me or see me – simply because of my reputation of being happy all the time.
How could you cry, girl? You always laugh away things. I never expected you to cry. This is what a close friend of mine told me after I shed a few tears on being bullied at college.
If I would remain silent for a few minutes in the middle of a group conversation, people would tell me. “You know what- you don’t look good when you are silent. Did something upset you? Are you okay?”
If I didn’t answer a question in class or seemed less attentive, my teacher would say – “ What happened child? Are you finding it difficult to understand? Why do you seem dull today? Is everything okay?”
After many similar incidents of such a kind where people spewed out comments on seeing me slightly sad or upset or just not in the right mood to talk that a realization dawned upon me.
You don’t have to pretend to be happy all the time. You don’t have to fit in everywhere like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. You don’t have to wear a fake smile if you are hurt. If people start taking your emotions for granted, it’s time to retrospect and embrace a change. Yes, extroverts do have emotions too in case you forgot. Just because they are outgoing and appear to be energetic often does not mean they can’t express their feelings of being low or let down.
From that day, I discarded my mask of being socially extroverted and banished the thoughts of squeezing into the standards of society or pleasing anyone. Instead, I started creating a place for myself – A place where I was comfortable in my skin. I stopped faking my happiness and started living the real person I was. I stopped hiding my sadness and tears behind my forceful smile. I started being honest and truthful in how I felt.
I was exasperated with constantly lying to myself and others just to avoid fights and preserve my reputation of being the no-hassle, happy-go girl. By establishing open and honest communication in my relationship, I felt pleasant and didn’t feel like a victim for anything that went off-track.
Slowly but gradually, I gained friends who could understand my transition, who gave me space to learn and grow and who helped transform into a more authentic human being. Instead of being called ignorant and careless for my new personality, I was told I am genuine and kind-hearted. I can now trust myself and others easier than before. I let what I considered my weakness become a strength that I have now embraced.
Be genuine! Be authentic! Don’t pretend to be happy if you are not. Just be yourself and relish every moment…