The Extroverted Introvert

Photo by: Porcelainpoet

What do Michelle Pfeifer, Julia Roberts, David Letterman, and Clint Eastwood have in common?  They're all extroverted introverts.  And it's an increasing phenomenon.

Thanks to the Western world's favoritism of extroverts, we introverts feel as though we must force ourselves to change.  We feel as though we must become actors masquerading under finely tuned masks all the time.  While sometimes it does help to temporarily tap into your inner extrovert - as introverts we seem to be under the impression that in order to excel in our careers, life ambitions and connections, we must become actors all day every day, without exception.  Unfortunately this leads to endless amounts of burnout, anxiety and sometimes even depression.

The truth is: many of us don't give ourselves a break!  We fail to create balance in our lives, and so our socially gregarious facades swallow our entire lives.  Sometimes our true selves are buried and repressed so deeply under our daily masks so often that we loose touch with what makes us 'us'.

Many introverts realize that they must become experts in personal appearances and self promotion in social settings.  Many of us realize that simply being ourselves won't cut it all the time.  We can't remain quiet, reserved or autonomous.  We must function by igniting connections with people.  And in order to do that we need to exude the energy and charisma of extroverts.

So while it can indeed be practically helpful to channel our "extroverted selves" in our work lives, friendship circles and family lives every now and then, many of us introverts fail to set healthy boundaries.  If we have not developed enough self-awareness, our extroverted selves can wreak havoc in our inner and outer lives.

Before I discovered the true value of mindfully channeling my "inner extrovert", I adopted the extroverted introvert facade out of fear: fear of failing and fear of not being liked or accepted by others.  I've worked in a variety of jobs throughout the years - a convenience store, a public library and a candle shop - and all demanded different things from me.  But the one thing all of my jobs had in common (which you might identify with) was dealing with lots of people all the time.  Understandably ... I felt a lot of pressure, and at first adopting the role of the extroverted introvert was a way to cope with my crippling insecurities and social pressures.

I would force myself all day every day to exude ridiculous amount of energy - energy that I just couldn't continue to give away, or keep up with.  So many times I would simply crash.  My extrovert facade would entirely crumble in front of everyone and I would become brusque, quiet and unresponsive.  What a shock to everyone!  My coworkers, customers and boss would become perplexed, offended and confused.


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Perhaps you have experienced this before?

But don't get me wrong.  We all have an energetic "extroverted" side within us - it's just that we all have it to different degrees.  For those of us who are on the bottom of the energy spectrum (introverts) it really helps to know you limits.  However, in order to know your limits and know when to slowly transition out of your extroverted self, we need to be able to identify what is motivating us to be extroverted introverts in the first place.

Signs That Being an Extroverted Introvert is Harming You

1.  You feel the need to live up to an identity you have created every time you go out.

2.  You are afraid that if anyone truly saw the "real you" they wouldn't accept or like you.

3.  You feel dirty or dishonest.

4.  You feel chronically tense and anxious.

5.  You feel exhausted and completely drained at the end of the day.

6.  You have poor immunity to sickness.

7.  You reject and/or ridicule your naturally quiet self and wish you could be "different" or like "everyone else."

8.  You feel as though every interaction with others takes a lot of effort

9.  You feel attached to the identity/mask/image you have created because you feel protected from others.

 

As I mentioned before, tapping into your extroverted self is not necessarily a detrimental, or bad thing to do.  Many times exuding energy is needed or necessary.  However, when we are motivated by fear, anxiety or low self-esteem, our masks can be destructive to our well-being.

Helpful Questions

If you have adopted an extroverted facade out of fear, anxiety or low self-esteem, you might benefit from asking the following questions.  Write down your responses on a piece of paper, or digital document, and assess your thoughts and feelings.  This is an excellent way to better understand yourself, and change your actions from instinctual and unconsciously driven, to consciously driven.

  • Why do I adopt this mask?
  • What insecurities and issues do I have that cause me to react?  Perhaps low self worth, lack of trust in my abilities, excessive anxiety, inability to cope with others, etc.
  • What can I do about my insecurities and issues?
  • If I feel the need to be liked - why?
  • Do I like and respect myself enough?
  • Where does my sense of worth and self esteem come from?  Others, or myself?
  • When do I put the mask on?  Why?
  • How can I cope with this situation differently?
  • Why do other peoples opinions of me matter anyway?
  • What's the worst that could happen if I drop my mask?
  • How can I excel without adopting a mask?

***

The more self-awareness you develop, the more you will be able to accept the person you are with open arms.  This is what I have learnt in my personal struggles.

Once you are comfortable with who you are and the innumerable gifts you have, you can move on to learning how to tap into your inner extrovert in a safe and beneficial way.  I wrote about how to do this in this article.  Remember: with self-acceptance comes the keys to unimaginable social and personal freedom!

Any of your person thoughts, experiences or feelings will be welcomed below!


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