Just Because I’m Friendly Doesn’t Mean I’m Not an Introvert

a friendly, smiling introvert

For the longest time, one of the things that irked me about being an introvert was that if I displayed even a smidgeon of extroversion, everyone started looking at me like I’d grown two heads.

But more than that, when I met new acquaintances and appeared extroverted, then went back to being my true introverted self, I started receiving all this flak about “deceiving” people.

Trust me, I wasn’t trying to deceive you — I’m just being myself, for god’s sake.

Okay, rant over, but not really.

I love all my extroverted friends — I really do. But there are definitely certain things that I wish they knew about my introverted nature, because seriously, that would make my life so much easier. If every extroverted person on the planet could read this article, it would be such a boon for all the introverts in their lives.

So, here are three things extroverts should know about introverts like me that will keep this confusion at bay.

What Introverts Want You to Know

1. We’re not “introverts” all the time.

It’s true that introversion is something that’s coded into our DNA, and even though we may grow and change, it won’t ever go away. So technically, introverts are introverts all the time. What I’m really talking about here is our behavior.

This point is such a big one that I want to emphasize it over and over again, in bold and capital letters. Even though we are introverts, we can have “extroverted” moments. I can understand how that might seem confusing, but that’s the way of it.

We might have long periods where we disappear into our introvert caves and not message you for long periods of time. But we might also have periods of extroversion. Don’t hate us for it, we are not doing it to bug you — that’s just how we are. Even the most introverted person does not want to be alone all the time.

Sometimes, you might meet us in an introverted phase, or in an extroverted phase — either way, if we tell you that we are introverts, believe us, please. Which brings me to my next point…

2. If we tell you that we are introverts, please believe us.

This is another thing that bugs me a lot. I’m always telling people that I’m an introvert. I find it easier to warn people about this, as soon as I meet them, so they don’t get confused by my seemingly contradictory nature. But they are always arguing with me, not only on my YouTube channel, on which I come across as extroverted, but also in real life.

“Oh no, you are so not an introvert! You can’t be!”

Why do I need to convince anyone what I am? Why is this even an argument? Why are you trying to tell me what I am? Would this make sense if the roles were reversed? If I were an extrovert and I was telling you so, would you argue with me and say, “Oh, no, you are not an extrovert!”

Probably not.

In fact, I have never argued with someone on this point. Whether they tell me they’re an introvert or an extrovert, I accept their term with open arms.

3. Don’t make us feel bad for oscillating between extroversion and introversion.

When we are around people who we feel comfortable with, we can very well behave like extroverts. In fact, almost all my friends (probably 90%) are extroverted. Which means that when I go out with them, I turn on my extroverted mode. Otherwise, it would be way too exhausting to be around them — and not very much fun.

But it’s not as easy as flipping a switch, so keep that in mind. It takes a lot of energy, effort, and deliberate, conscious thought to turn on that extroverted switch. Afterward, I need plenty of alone time to recharge my energy.

If I’m around a bunch of new people, for example, in a class or workshop, I usually behave like an introvert because I do not know how to behave around these new people yet. Thus, I could meet you during my extroverted or my introverted phase, who knows. And this could lead you to believe falsely that I’m an extrovert.

I’ve had many situations where this transpired, and the person in question made me feel guilty for being who I am. For being an introvert. Or for being a “different person” depending on the situation. But it’s not that unusual to act different in different situations. Some psychologists even believe that our circumstances determine our behavior more than our personality does.

Introverts are not lying about who we are. We are not changing ourselves to confuse you or escape from you. This is just a normal fact of life for many introverts.

Everyone puts on masks when they travel through this world. Our society continues to hold up the ideal of the extrovert, as Susan Cain explains in her book Quiet — so introverts have to put on a heavier mask to travel through.

Almost all introverts I know have this heavy burden they feel they have to carry. They feel bad for being introverts. Almost all of them have wished at some point in their lives to be extroverts — it would be so much easier, they tell themselves.

I get it. To be completely honest, I’ve had the same thoughts.

If I were an extrovert, I wouldn’t have to pretend to be one, I could just be exuberant, cheerful, and energetic around other people. I wouldn’t have to pump myself up or charge up my energy in order to go to social events. I wouldn’t have to come home after an especially strenuous day and hide under my covers in a dark, silent room, in order to feel human again. I wouldn’t have to apologize over and over for being an introvert, because I need more time than my extroverted friends to recuperate after a major social event (or any social event, for that matter).

But I’m also beginning to love who I am. And the main reason for this is that I have embraced myself as an introvert. I’ve also realized it’s absolutely okay for me to act extroverted at certain times if I want to — it’s not a deviation from my true self but a teeny-tiny part of it.

Embracing all sides of me is definitely the first step towards loving myself more and more as an introvert. If you haven’t taken this step yet, I hope you do it today.

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