Lately, there seems to be the “proper feeding and caring of introverts” and the alike topics appearing on the internet. I decided to share the extrovert version from my own perspective. Since we are all created as unique masterpieces, no two extroverts are alike and my views do not represent every exisiting extrovert. The terms introvert and extrovert are commonly misunderstood. Introverts are not always the quiet ones like the character of Amelie. Extroverts are not necessarily the loudest people in the room. There is a scale of introversion and extroversion and only a few belong to either extremes.
Extrovert: By definition, an extrovert is a person who draws energy from people. An extrovert is a person who loves to relax after a long day of work by going to a crowded coffee shop, pub, or event. An extrovert doesn’t have to be a very popular or charismatic person either. An extrovert is comfortable going to a social event where he or she does not know many people. For instance, one of my friends, Reese, from Portland appears to be quiet and soft spoken. In gatherings, he isn’t the loudest person in the room or the “life of the party.” In fact, I have never heard him raise his voice. However, he is an extrovert because he loves to be in parties and social gatherings with lots of people and movement. Extroverts find that relaxing. Contrary to the popular notion, extroverts are not always natural leaders. There is more to leadership than being the talkative person with charisma. Afterall, real life leadership isn’t like your high school student government.
Introvert: In contrast, an introvert needs to recharge as he or she does not draw energy primarily from people. That doesn’t mean an introvert is a loner or anti-social. Introverts prefer low-key, small events. Rather than a huge party at an unknown place with a crowd, an introvert prefers game night, movie night, or the alike with about 5 of his close buddies. Introverts are capable of networking at the professional level and having large social networks.
Introverts don’t necessarily lacks social skills, presentation skills, leadership, or influence. I have known several people who were excellent leaders yet very introverted. One was Mr. Campbell, an English teacher I had in high school. He was a cool guy. He socialized with us in class, had a strong presence, and knew a lot about writing and music. During poetry unit, he played a song for us with his guitar. I used to chat with him about writing and show him my poetry and short stories. Any teacher would have been happy when kids wanted to stop by and ask about class, but this teacher was great. I didn’t feel awkward talking to him after class. It was surprising when he told the class that he is actually an introvert. He explained that he is not the type who likes big gatherings. He has no issues with concerts. However, his ideal hang out is with one or two people or something low-key. When he and his wife are out for social gatherings, she is the one who does all the talking and comfortable with crowds. He prefers to find one or two people he knows and stick by them.
In my previous teaching job, I know another coworker who is very influential, great leader, and respected by students. One evening, I asked him what’s he doing. He said with a sigh, “I got invited to this party and don’t want to go. It’s been a long day” My response was, “A party. That sounds fun.” He then said that if I like gatherings, I should get to know his friend who is hosting. I got introduced and that’s how I plugged in. Unless I am dying or detest the crowd, I will not decline an invite to a social event. There are some people I avoid because of their vulgar behavior not lacking acquaintance or commonalities.
In one communication workshop, we had an activity where each person describes the ideal party. My ideal party was in an exotic locale in a beautiful building with 4 floors. There are thousands of people. Each floor has a different event: on the first floor people mix and mingle, the second floor is a DJ dance party, the third is a game floor, and then another has a dance party with different music. It’s an event where people are friendly and open to meeting others. That is a typical extrovert answer. Most extroverts in the class described parties with large crowds. For introverts, the ideal party was a potluck with close friends of no more than 10 people at their home or the alike.
From my understanding of myself, here is where I want to explain my extroverted nature:
I am not flirting with you. This is a problem I have with introverted men or may it’s a personality flaw where he believes he’s god’s gift to all women. Just because I’m a female and happen to be in your proximity does not mean I want you. I see a new person and want to chat. That is called being polite and friendly. In my eyes, it is rude to ignore anyone. It is especially rude for a host to ignore anyone.
I remember being in a party, and I saw one person who was standing around alone and not really talking to anyone for a long time. He was new. So I decided to say hello. After a few lines of the usual such as name and “who are you?” type of questions, he says, “I’m married” in a very awkward way. I told him, “That’s great. I have a boyfriend [and pointed him out]. Where’s your wife?” and moved on. Sigh! Maybe I should have been rude and ignored him. If he looked beyond himself, he would have noticed that I was making my way around the room and talked to everyone: male, female, young, old, friends I knew well, and new people. So if I strike a conversation with you and you happen to be a man that does not mean anything. FYI, I am old-school and prefer that the man takes the initiative. Plus, get over yourself because you are not that attractive.
Do we ever get tired? Nah, not usually! Believe it or not. After a long day of work, I want to go out. Singapore is a city that has people from all over the world with many backgrounds. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their tales and perspectives of life. Why should I sit home? Unless, I worked an intense 15-hour-shift or exhausted from being sick, I don’t see a reason to stay home on a Friday night. I may avoid crowds if it is people I can’t stand or people doing activities I don’t enjoy like heavy drinking or gossip. My laid back “me” time is a evening escape in Orchard with my iPad. I walk around the crowded street before parking myself in a coffee shop and writing. My other favorite place is the Botanic Gardens. I am inspired and relaxed by people. I don’t talk to anyone but I find comfort in a busy city.
I am not insecure. I like to fill up my calendar with different events. I am always looking for new events, gatherings, and places to go with different people. Why? That is what relaxes me. I enjoy meeting new people to learn about them and their perspectives. Simply said, I just enjoy people. It is not to validate myself as a person. I already know who I am and satisfied with myself. Like everyone else, I’m sure I have a few insecurities. But, I am who I am. I know what I enjoy and I go for it.
I have close friends. One of the misunderstandings is that extroverts are shallow, flaky, and go for quantity rather than quality. That’s so not true. I have networks of different people. I have my co-workers, writers group, church friends, salsa dancing crowd, going out and exploring the local music scene crowd, and so on. Variety is the spice of life. However, it is impossible to be best friends with everyone. I cannot share my personal life with everyone. So, I have a close circle who know me more than others.
Cliquishness? I think not. (See above for reference). Being an extrovert doesn’t mean I want to air personal details openly. I don’t want to feel that I am the object of a reality TV drama. Natural boundaries still apply to extroverts. So, most extroverts tend to have a smaller social circle of best friends. These people know me well and I am much more comfortable opening up certain topics to those in my closer circles. We may hang out out without inviting the larger crowd. That is more polite than inviting a huge crowd and our group sticking to one corner of a the party and ignoring others. For example, take my writer’s group, why would I invite someone who doesn’t like to write? Likewise, when I want a close gathering, I prefer to invite those who are close to me.
I am tired of people complaining about cliques well into their late 20s and 30s. For one, you are not as openminded as you like to think of yourself. It is natural for people to tend to gravitate towards whom they sense commonground. There are some people whom I simply cannot relate to or understand. I feel like an oddball and too many awkward pauses during conversations. I work around it. It’s a natural part of life. I accept them as acquaintances, but find my own group.
Generally, when people come together in any organization whether it be work or social, there is a tendency to have a common culture or try to figure it out. Being in a group of people requires compromise. That doesn’t mean that you cannot be true to yourself. The truth is that no one ever feels like they fit in entirely. It’s all an illusion. Everyone feels alienated and that is the condition of our modern society.
If your significant other is an extrovert, you do not have to attend every social gathering. I noticed that most men I dated were the mellow, introvert-leaning types. An introvert reminds me that it’s okay to relax and enjoy quiet time. It’s also okay to introduce me to things he likes. Even if I am not a gamer and not known any game since Mario, it’s ok to ask me if I want to try a video game. Extroverts enjoy trying new things rather than finding the unfamiliar intimidating. I am willing to try it out at least once, especially if I know my significant other is into it. If I hate it, I’m not offended if you separate from me and go out with your buddies for a LAN night, talk smack about each other like men, watch the game, or whatever you do. That’s because I will go out with my friends. I don’t care about watching football but when I see that he is excited about it, it’s adorable.
If you are not one of those insecure, controlling, possessive types of men, you can accept an extrovert’s nature though that’s not how you’d do it. By the way, I do not put up with possessive, controlling kind of men. If I sense that, it’s an automatic goodbye. With compromise, you are not expected to go to every social event with an extrovert. Afterall, a relationship is about mutual understanding and acceptance of each other’s uniqueness. It can benefit both of us. The introvert can have his alone time and I can go out to a party.
Even after marriage, I am okay with my husband hanging out with his buddies. Why would that be a problem? I’m a mature adult woman not a clingy 10-year-old. My only condition is that he’s accepting of me going out with my friends without suspicion. I have seen one-sidedness before.
With that said, please realize that there are some events where it’d be nice to have a date. Going alone to event that have mostly couples can be awkward even for the extrovert.
Please Communicate…at least so that we know you’re alive and breathing. I generally tend to take the intiative. I was the kid who ended up doing most of the work during school projects. I may wait for a minute or ask, “what do you think?” But ultimately, it is up to you to say something. I cannot read your mind. When doing any sort of collaboration, there needs to be direction stated. If you do not say anything, you cannot contribute to the decisions. I can ask once or twice to be considerate and inclusive, but I am not going to coddle every emotional need of yours. That’s too much and unreasonable for anyone. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I need to think about this. Can I get back to you on _______?”
I do not mind taking the initiative for social events, but I also like to be considerate. Silence is confusing because I do not know what you really want. Like I said, I cannot read your mind. Are you being passive-aggressive? Not really interested? flaky? That makes it awkward, because I do not want to intrude your space—especially when you are not interested. If you are not, I want to respect that. But how can I if you do not fricking communicate? It doesn’t need to be long. Once in a while is it really too much to show interest? For example, mention something like, “I always wanted to go to the ______” And I’d be more than happy to set a date, time, and plan it out, and make it happen for you. But you need to tell me! On the other extreme, please don’t pretend to be interested in something when in reality you don’t give a shit. It’s incredibly annoying.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. I’m sure there is more. So there you have it. Feel free to leave comments.