We've all heard of extroverts and introverts, right? You probably even already know exactly which one you are. However, have you ever heard of an "extroverted introvert"? That's what I am.
When people would describe which of the two they were, I didn't understand why I could fit myself in either of those boxes. I could totally resonate with both!
After doing my research, I realized that it's because I am a mesh of both. I'm an extroverted introvert. There's even a such thing as an introverted extrovert, which is the opposite! But we'll get into that later. 👍🏾
What is an introvert and an extrovert?
So let's begin with the basic descriptions of what an introvert and an extrovert are separately.
An introvert is someone that typically prefers, embodies, and experiences the following characteristics:
-having time to their selves
-feels drained by social interactions
-prefers working alone
-has/prefers a close circle of friends
-introspective and curious
-zones out a lot
-prefers writing over talking
-enjoys quiet, independent environments
-doesn't prefer to be the center of attention
On the other hand, an extrovert is someone that typically prefers, embodies, and experiences these characteristics:
-has/prefers a large group of friends
-thinks out loud, loves to talk
-gains energy from being around others
-thrives in team-oriented and open work settings
-enjoys being the center of attention
So as you can see, by reading those characteristics, a few different people you know probably popped into your head and you automatically know exactly which one they are.
Introverts tend to be more reserved, quiet and to themselves. They focus inward. Whereas extroverts tend to be more outgoing, loud, and always around people. They focus outward. Now, this isn't to say that if you're one or the other, you only exemplify characteristics of that one personality type, because that's not true! You can definitely be an introvert that loves to talk or enjoys team-oriented projects. You just wouldn't do or need those particular things as long or as much as an extrovert would. And vice-versa!
Think of introversion and extroversion as a spectrum. There's people that fall more on the extreme ends of the introvert side of the spectrum. As well as there being people that fall on the extreme ends of the extrovert side of the spectrum. Then there's people that fall more in the middle and maybe lean to one side a little bit more than the other.
So what is an extroverted introvert?
An extroverted introvert (also known as ambivert, social introvert, outgoing introvert) is someone that falls in the middle of the spectrum, but leans a little more towards the introverted side. We exemplify characteristics from both sides, however, deep down, we're an introvert at heart. We can be the life of the party and appear to be outgoing to most, but at the end of the day, we get our energy from being in our own space. We might have extroverted tendencies, but that's what drains us.
I wanted to explain some key things and obstacles I experience in my life as an extroverted introvert, because it's not always easy and a lot of time, people just don't understand.
Wait...you actually want to be alone? Why?
People tend to see me as an extroverted girl that always has something to say, and has no problem speaking her mind and having fun with others. Those things are definitely true to an extent! I enjoy talking to others, speaking my mind, and having fun with people! However, people mistake this for me being an overall extroverted person that wants to be in the company of others all the time, go out all the time, and always be doing something with other people.
And that's just not me. It never has been me!
Being around people constantly drains the hell out of me. Getting dressed to go out makes me feel dizzy and sick (always has, don't know why). I recharge from being in my own space. I actually enjoy being alone! People are surprised when they find this out about me, because I'm so extroverted on the surface. The perks of being an extroverted introvert! I actually get slight social anxiety hanging out around people, being in large groups, being around new people, etc. even though I might be one of the people talking the most! I always feel like I may have said something wrong and constantly second guess myself. These things can't happen when I'm alone though. 🤷🏾♀️ That's why I'm an introvert at heart.
If you recharge by being alone, why are you always with XYZ then?
When I tell people I'm a homebody and I like being alone, they assume that I don't like being around people at all. So imagine how confused they are when they always see me around one or two people with no problem. "If you don't want to hang out, why are you always with those certain people?"
Take my best friend, for instance. I can be around her for months at a time, and people don't always get that. It's not that I don't like to be around certain people or I pick and choose friends over others. It's just that certain people and interactions are really draining for me. Whereas others recharge me and makes me feel almost the same as when I'm alone recharging. I can be around my best friend a lot, because she doesn't drain me. She's also an extroverted introvert, so we can feed off of one another's energy without feeling drained the way we do when we're out and about in groups with other people.
Do you enjoying being around people at all?
This is where being an extroverted introvert starts to get even more confusing. I just preached to you guys about how I recharge from being alone, I feel drained around other people, the list goes on. BUT, this isn't to say that I don't get lonely. When I'm solely alone for awhile, I do start to miss being around others! I do get lonely.
Once I'm fully recharged, that's when I start to reach out to others and initiate fun plans, because then, I can give them my best, energized self. It seems like a contradicting lifestyle/personality, so I can understand why it might be confusing to people.
Are you a party pooper when you go out?
If you can get me to go out, I'm still going to have a good time and be fun. I'm not the party pooper of the bunch at all. I'm going to be very outgoing, suggest ideas for what to do next, crack jokes - the whole bit! I just can't be out doing these things every single day of my life like a lot of truly extroverted people can. And that's okay!
You must be flirting
Being an extroverted introvert, I can make small talk, but I don't like to. Extroverted people, a lot of the time, like to talk just to talk, because they're naturally outgoing people. That's how they recharge! It doesn't matter if what they're talking about is actually relevant to anything or matters. I can do this, but only for so long, because being introverted at heart, I start to not care.
I see no point in draining myself talking about the weather or other redundant things that I don't care about. I like to get to the point and really get to know other people. I'm also a great listener. I enjoy letting people see that they have my undivided attention. For some reason, people always jump from A to Z and assume that I'm flirting with them (or with someone else) because I'm intrigued by intentional conversation. But 9 and a half times out of ten, no, I am not flirting with you. 💀
If you like being by yourself, do you have problems with spending time with people?
This is something I struggle with so much, especially now that I'm older and can really choose when to leave my own space or not. As much as I really want to spend valuable time with people I care about, I have a hard time doing that sometimes. I want to be there for people, but I like being there for people through phone calls, texting, social media, facetime, etc.
I'm at my best when I'm in my own space, because that's when I'm the most energized. I don't feel drained, I just feel at peace. So I do struggle with finding the motivation to get dressed up and go out to hang out with a lot of people often. It doesn't mean I don't care about them, because I do. It leaves me feeling very guilty all the time, because I want to spend time with people I care about, but I also don't want to go anywhere and risk feeling drained.
What is your energy level actually tied to?
My ENVIRONMENT! When you're out and about and surrounded by other people, you have to work harder. You have to socialize. You have to make sure you're acting accordingly. There are so many boxes you have to check. When you're alone, the only boxes you have to check are the ones you want to, because you only have to worry about yourself.
I am very sensitive when it comes to my surroundings. I love being in clean, neat, quiet areas where I can choose what the vibe is. I can choose what music to play, how many people are present, etc. When you're out in public, or at someone's house to hang out, you rarely get to choose what the vibe is, so in a way, you're forced to adjust. And that can be difficult for someone that's introverted at heart.
Are you confused for an extrovert often?
All the time! Yes, I'm an extroverted introvert, but that only means I know how to do extroverted things that people who are extremely introverted struggle with. I'm still introverted at the core, but I am very outgoing a lot of the time too! I'll say hi to complete strangers and not think twice about it. I laugh a lot and I initiate a ton of conversations. I'm super enthusiastic and tend to be pretty impulsive at times too!
This can cause people to not believe that I'm introverted. I'm social, so it can't be possible for me to be an introvert, right? WRONG. I'm good at playing an extrovert. Maybe even better than most. But that's definitely not how I get my energy. That's what makes me feel the absolute most exhausted, believe it or not. Even if I'm having tons of fun interacting with others! I get my energy from being by myself.
You mentioned that there's a such thing as an "introverted extrovert" too?
Yep, that's right. There's a such thing as an introverted extrovert. An introverted extrovert is the opposite of an extroverted introvert. They're in the middle of spectrum as well, however, they lean more towards the extroverted side of the spectrum. They actually get their energy from being around others and being in social environments. Being alone is what's draining for them, but they're pretty good at playing the part of an introvert when they have to or are energized enough to.
These people are extroverts at heart. Everything that I know how to do but struggle with at times, they're extremely good at and comfortable with. However, everything that I'm comfortable with, they tend to struggle with much more. So take everything I said about extroverted introverts and flip it! That's what an introverted extrovert is.
It was so much fun discussing all of these things, because a lot of people don't understand the concept of someone whose so good at being social being an introvert. But yes, we are out there, and we do exist!
Also, none of this was to say that I hate being around people or that I don't care to spend time with certain people. That's not what I was trying to say at all. I just think it's important for people to understand why someone like me acts the way they do. It's not to be stuck up or to pick and choose who's worthy of my time. It's all about energy.
Now that I've explained the spectrum, where do you think you fall? Are you a reserved introvert that enjoys being alone at all costs and isn't fond of too much social interaction? Are you an extroverted introvert, like me, that loves to be social but can only go so far until you feel extremely drained and need your time alone? Are you an introverted extrovert that can be alone and reserved better than most, but thrives off of external factors like socializing with others and being the life of the party? Or are you an extrovert that can only function around others, needs to be the center of attention, and feels completely exhausted and drained anytime you're alone?
Let me know in the comments below! I can't wait to hear where you fall on the spectrum.