The Extroverted Introvert


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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.

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.

 

 

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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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  • anonymous

    Wow… and all this time I thought I was CRAZY! Not one person in my life would EVER think I am an introvert at my core. My daughter recently told me she took a personality test and she learned so much about her introvert personality, even though she is in youth ministry. She thought I should look into it also because she noticed things in there that I do that seems contradictory to what people “THINK” of me. Was she ever right? Great article

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Your comment really makes me wonder how many supposedly gregarious people I come across are actually quiet at their core—probably a large percentage! Thanks for reading and sharing anonymous!

  • RubixCube

    What an incredible article! I’m almost retirement age, and I was struggling with this issue for DECADES. It’s not acceptable in a corporate setting to hide in your office all day, so I had to put on the “happy face” for 10 hours or so, 5 days a week. I was married, but I’d already “given at the office” so there wasn’t much left for my family. Needless to say, the marriage collapsed after 20 years or so – I hung on that long for my children. They will never know the sacrifice Daddy gladly and lovingly made for their sake.
    I’m older and hopefully wiser now. I’m out of the corporate arena, so I don’t have to play the game any more. I can indulge my “inner Introvert” and I do. I accept some trade-offs such as periods of social isolation, but I find that this recharges my batteries rather than make me feel sad or depressed. finding a “significant other” is proving to be a challenge, but I’m keeping hope alive.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      I’m really happy that you could benefit so much out of this article Rubixcube! My hope is that as mainstream society gains more awareness of introversion, there will be less people having to hide in their offices or put on “happy faces” all day long. Best wishes in your search for love!

  • Teresa W in Seattle

    I am definitely an extroverted introvert. I find the article a little shallow and self deprecating. I don’t apologize for how I need to feed my soul and recharge. I love my introverted side and feed it often so I am happy. The article would have been much better coming from a place of not having to excuse who you are instead the perspective of embracing it lovingly.

  • James Corvus Jackdaw.

    I’m an introvert with a speech impediment . I stutter. My throat locks up and I can’t speak. It drains me to talk. It drains me to be with people. I utterly detest social situations. I’d rather be left alone or at least spend time with the people who don’t cause me to feel like I’m running a marathon after having empty conversation and trying to be nice. I’m one of the few people who don’t care what people think of me. I’ve tossed away the mask. I know who I am, what I am. I feel like i’m trapped in my own skull really. Only a few people i’m able to converse with the rest of the world I’m a broken record player. My mind is fine, but my body betrays me every step of the way.

    the only one who allows me to be true is my fiancee. the rest of the world seems determined on fixing me. Excuse my language but “Fuck you!” is how I feel towards the ideology that I need to be fixed, or treated, or drugged. My energy is drained because my soul is crushed by outside world. My family doesn’t get me, they think theres something wrong and need to take me to a doctor. I’m a demisexual that hasn’t played out well for me. As sad as it is my fiancee is the only one who gets it. theres a reason why I write, its because its a way for me to escape. Its a way for me express my soul and a least give a character some things I’ve never had the honour of receiving.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      It must be frustrating and infuriating to constantly have others try to change you James. But it helps to understand that they are coming from a place of misguided and misdirected concern. I’ve often found that it helps to simply sit down calmly, and get into an honest and open conversation about how you feel. This sound ridiculous to many people, but the reason why it sounds that way is because of our desire to lock ourselves away, to refuse being vulnerable because we are too scared to open ourselves. But many times I’ve found that simply saying: “I understand you feel ____ however, I feel ______”, stimulates a kind of breakthrough in connections with others.

      It is wonderful that you have a fiance who understands you. What a wonderful woman she must be!

  • Anonymous

    I’d always thought that I was an ambivert, and I suppose I am, but the results of a test I took on this same website told me that I was an introvert with some ambivert functions. I like alone time but I’m not sure about being exhausted after entering a crowd. I am shy sometimes and I get really nervous when performing/when the spotlight is on me, but I can make some friends some I’m not quite sure….
    Thanks for the article! It’s too bad that some of us have to disguise our nature so we will be accepted.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      It is too bad … but that lack of acceptance of our natures is our own responsibility in the end. This is the lesson I have learnt: if you can’t embrace the person you are, you won’t be able to be your authentic self in public. So while there IS a lot of pressure to act extroverted, the more you develop self-compassion and respect, the more you will feel comfortable in your own skin. Thank you for reading. :)

  • Omar

    As a child I was one of the biggest extroverts around, over time rejection towards me has grown from general people and direct family about who I’m growing into, thus I’ve started to keep to myself and eventually turned into an absolute introvert at the age of 11, since then I’ve slowly grown this “extrovert” mask and it hasn’t really made my life any better; only made me emotionally very distant from my family. Now at the age of 20, I have a “personality” mask for different people/situations/places. Nobody can really discover who I really am unless I decide I want to let them. Of course I’ve had my down times, break downs, and totally lost my self on several occasions. It’s a sad thing to see myself grow into such a mystery, however I’m also thankful for the fact that I’ve understood it and became aware of why I act that way because now I can freely control how I demonstrate myself to people and whether I put on a mask or not has become a choice. So all in all I just want to say that, it’s not a bad habit, we just need to be aware of it and learn not to use it all the time.

    Thank you for the post and for reading.
    Cheers from Egypt.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Thank you for sharing Omar. You make a good observation in pointing out that putting on extroverted masks is not always a bad thing if you are mindful of it, and if you don’t hide behind it and let it become a core stronghold of your existence. I’ve found that when we are not mindful of the masks we put on, they tend to smother us after awhile, because we don’t know how to drop them and become consumed in them, sometimes even losing our identity and sense of personal authenticity. I appreciate the lessons you have shared!

  • Mel

    I am 38 years old and just finally understanding how much of an introvert I really am. For years I always thought it was “cool” to be an extrovert and ended up as ENFP on the Myers Briggs (that E being purposeful), but years of living with anxiety, panic, and being too tapped in as a sensitive soul have started to teach me otherwise. Thank you for this blog space for connection to people who get it! It is 7:30pm and I just want to go to bed. You see, I live with my parents right now in their small home and am sleeping in my childhood room. I moved in with them for a short time after a life transition and now I am ready to transition out into my own place again, which I will be doing at the end of the month. They are retired and always around the house, and I am not working. So, our lives intersect a lot and by 7:30pm I am exhausted. They don’t understand why I want to just call it a night early, they are both so entrenched in their TV watching and bed times after dinner. I know I don’t have to explain myself, but I end up doing so anyway, all the while rolling my eyes that I am almost 40 explaining to my parents why I need some time alone. Thus, coming to this blog is my way of connecting with folks like me, reassuring me that indeed I am okay as I am which gives me the strength to just curl up into my cocoon when I need to rejuvenate. Thanks to all for your presence in the world!

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      It’s so wonderful for me as a writer to know that these articles can be a source of strength and comfort in life. Thank you so much for sharing this with me! Nothing in life is normal or abnormal – it is thinking that makes it that way. Our existence is a perception, and our happiness is often reliant on our beliefs and values about the world. When we realize that it is perfectly fine to be the way we are, there are no more problems, no guilt or shame!

      • Mel

        Yes…I am getting there! It takes some concerted effort to change the messages we tell ourselves, especially after 38 years of these messages being so prominent. When I stumbled across this site and blog I knew being connected to soulful people will help me along in my journey! I am also reading a wonderful book…Discovering Your Soul Signature by Panache Desai. He encourages us to feel our feelings in order to transform them. All of this is such great stuff!

        • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

          It does take a lot of effort … and that is why most people prefer not to go to such great lengths, preferring instead the immediate gratifications of everyday life. You are at a wonderful point in your life. It’s encouraging to know that you are embracing it wholeheartedly!

  • Tonks78

    I am soooo bookmarking your blog, Ginger (fellow “ginger” here, btw…) I have thought that I was an introverted extrovert….your article made so much sense! I love talking to people, I enjoy hanging out with them but when it comes to personal achievements, like working on my masters degree, or graduation, or a raise because of something I’ve I feel extremely uncomfortable. I felt terrible with the attention I received st my wedding, AND I WAS THE BRIDE. I think my issues stem from having parents with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder ) who “brought me back to earth” according to what THEY told me (“its not all about you, so you got married, oh you had a baby… EVERYONE has a baby) so I’ve been programmed to recognize everyone else’s achievements and downplay my own. I’ve had therapy and am studying psychology to try to learn why I am this way as well as helping others with such a conflicting idealism that is shoved down our throats since childhood.

    Slowly I am learning that I do matter and I don’t need to hide achievements or even failures, as they’re lessons of life. I still applaud whom deserves my applause, or boost up my friends who deserve it. …and yes, I guess I ‘m the official cheerleader for those who know me. ….and I am trying to put the introvert mask away and just celebrate all we’ve done.

    Thanks, Ginger!

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      It’s wonderful that you are AWARE of all of these things Tonks, and that you are working through them all slowly and steadily! I’m a big advocate of self-growth (as you can probably tell!), and I’m so delighted to hear from others who are on the same path, sharing their knowledge.
      I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

  • Che Fai

    I have been doing this A lot lately and have built up a persona online that is really extroverted and I can’t live up to image as much as I want to. I do feel the way I portray myself to be sometimes but only around people I know really well…if I get around people face to face I cant give them the persona I’ve made. I’m feeling really scared and insecure because of this….I am scared to see the people who have seen my profiles and people who know me to be different than how I’ve acted, I feel really embarrassed….I’m just wondering if anyone has any advice on how to deal with the situation as it is now…thank u :/

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      I’ve done that before Che Fai. If we feel insecure about ourselves and don’t accept us for the way we are, it’s common to build an online persona to compensate for what we feel we lack.
      In your case, you will continue to experience this kind of anxiety and embarrassment unless you stop this habit, stop presenting yourself as an extrovert online, or tell people the truth: that you are more loud and extroverted among people you know, and tend to be quite and withdrawn at first. There are a few options, but whichever one you choose, I wish you the best of luck. :)

      • Che Fai

        Thank you, I will do that.

  • Cvetelin

    Thank you for your writings, I can see everything now! It isn’t easy to be yourself, society never teaches us that. All it ever wants from us is to help it grow, ether that or we’re no one. So being yourself means that you’ll encounter fear, anxiety and a lot of rejections. We all put these masks not only for our jobs, but for everyone in general. We want to be accepted, and in order to be approved we make these fake roles. And It’s normal, no one wants rejection.
    See, I’ve been reading a lot about these stuff, truly. I hate the feeling I get when I’m with others, I don’t get to be myself. The problem was, I never knew who was ME and who was that fake ego created by society.
    Until I saw this. And do you know whats funny? My true self was here all along, I just couldn’t accept it. It’s quiet, calm, kind, friendly, introvert. But all I saw in it was “weak”. Compared to all that arrogant personality everyone was projecting… People took advantage of my true self. They had no respect and hurt me. So that’s how my false ego was created… The extroverted mask. The energetic, dominating strong man. I wish I was a Tyler Durden of a sort…
    But now I see that even by creating this mask, even by being a “badass” people might have stopped hurting me, but I could not connect. I have no true friends except for a few guys. I’ve stopped others from hurting me, but in the process I was hurting myself. Thank you.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Cvetelin, you seem to have developed a very deep understanding of yourself, and I’m delighted that this article could help you along the path of self-discovery!

      Males have it especially tough in society, as there is this image of the “perfect” man being strong, bold, tough and fierce, with loads of sex appeal. The truth is that not everyone can be that way, and not every female is attracted to males that conform to this image. But it does seem as though the most arrogant, ruthless people tend to get through life the easiest, which is why it is tempting to adopt such a facade (not that all extroverts are arrogant or ruthless).

      In the end, it’s not essential to adopt an extrovert-introvert facade, and I’ve found that lowering people’s expectations actually helps. Being quiet, yet strong does get you far (in my experience).

      So once again, I’m delighted that this article helped in some way! All the very best wishes,

      -Luna

      • Cvetelin

        It did help me indeed. Just to note, the night before I had this sort of realization. Its what made me search the post, which finished the job. Now I’ve been interacting with people and I do what I feel like I want to do and It is… peaceful. And as you said, actually I did not feel weak! Nor did I feel tired. I like myself now, yet was afraid of myself before… Strange eh?
        Here is a tip as a thank you :D – if you consciously try to be yourself and say that you don’t care what others think of you, you create an ego of a person who doesn’t care what others think of you. I guess the real you is doing and feeling like you want to at the moment.

        • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

          An excellent piece of advice! After trying different approaches I discovered the same thing: just relax, let go, and be yourself. It sounds like the most simple thing in the world, but funnily enough it’s the hardest! We complicate life so much that it’s hard for us to learn how to just be, without any tension or pressure.

          I hope that the people who visit this article read your last paragraph and take it on board! Thank you for sharing your experience here!

          Luna

          • Kim

            Thanks to both of you!
            I think I got something valuable out of this page :)

            • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

              :)

  • pov

    While I’m sure many people, at times myself, do fit the characteristic described here, I don’t see how someone choosing/liking a career based on being in the public eye is an introvert.

    • http://lonerwolf.com Aletheia Luna

      Hello Pov.

      I’m not sure about liking careers based in the public eye, but many introverts not knowing that they are introverts, fall into these careers because society (or their friends, parents etc.) expects it from them. Many of us choose our careers and study our ‘degrees’ at young ages after all, so it’s not surprising that there are many suffering introverts out there who must act extroverted in order to get by.

      -Luna

  • Alicia Forrest

    Hi there! I remember doing this sort of thing when I was younger… putting on a mask because I just wanted to be liked by other people, and I hated loneliness. And most of all, I was scared that people would figure out what I’m really like.

    Thing is, I think that “fake it till you make it” technique actually worked. Around my friends, I’m geniunely myself (at least, one half of it!) – I’m quite loud, adventurous, and don’t like conforming to sterotypes. Thing is, that core streak of introversion still sticks with me – going out anywhere with friends, even if for a few hours completely drains me. I need at least 3 or 4 days to recharge, can never go out for 2 days in a row, and I need to choose which social events to attend to accomodate that.

    I suppose some elements of the mask stuck. I constantly feel like I have to live up to the expectations of the character I’ve built up. The one who’s overly flirty/sexual, strong, independent, and can take any sort of critisim or harsh joke… when really I’m the complete opposite. I won’t ever tell someone if they’ve hurt or offended me, and I won’t even state my opinion if I know it will start an argument. There’s some sort of comfort in that mask actually – knowing that people will never really know who you are. Only problem being, it does get incredibly lonely after all these years!

    Despite that, I do enjoy socialising. In fact, I’m the only introvert I know that enjoys parties, meeting new people, loud environments… am I the only one?~

    • http://lonerwolf.com Aletheia Luna

      Hello Alicia, thank you for sharing here.

      You sound more like an Ambivert than an Introvert, at least from a superficial glance.
      You may like to check out Sol’s Ambivert article here: http://lonerwolf.com/ambivert/

      -Luna

    • Joe

      Alicia,

      I think you are my soul mate. I feel almost exactly like you. Maybe I am an ambivert. I have this mask I created to help me when I was a kid to play sports, make friends, meet girls and just try to be liked. (No one likes a downer)

      Now I see it as a tool to get the things I want and need. However the feeling of being drained after a social event is something I have to consider before doing anything. What’s amusing to me is that I am talkative and experimental at parties. People love my mask and I even enjoy controlling their attention. But afterwards I am completely drained and need to be alone for weeks

      Is there a group or maybe we can create where introverts and ambiverts can hang out? I would love to hang around people who can have fun and laugh and then sit quietly on their own for a few days.

      In any event I thought I was the only one like this. I tried to explain it to people and they just don’t get it. I also have adult ADD which makes relationships tough. I know I am a mess. I am just trying to find a happy place to stand to get my needs met without stepping on someone else’s happiness.

      Hi there! I remember doing this sort of thing when I was younger… putting on a mask because I just wanted to be liked by other people, and I hated loneliness. And most of all, I was scared that people would figure out what I’m really like.

      Thing is, I think that “fake it till you make it” technique actually worked. Around my friends, I’m geniunely myself (at least, one half of it!) – I’m quite loud, adventurous, and don’t like conforming to sterotypes. Thing is, that core streak of introversion still sticks with me – going out anywhere with friends, even if for a few hours completely drains me. I need at least 3 or 4 days to recharge, can never go out for 2 days in a row, and I need to choose which social events to attend to accomodate that.

      I suppose some elements of the mask stuck. I constantly feel like I have to live up to the expectations of the character I’ve built up. The one who’s overly flirty/sexual, strong, independent, and can take any sort of critisim or harsh joke… when really I’m the complete opposite. I won’t ever tell someone if they’ve hurt or offended me, and I won’t even state my opinion if I know it will start an argument. There’s some sort of comfort in that mask actually – knowing that people will never really know who you are. Only problem being, it does get incredibly lonely after all these years!

      Despite that, I do enjoy socialising. In fact, I’m the only introvert I know that enjoys parties, meeting new people, loud environments… am I the only one?~

    • Tonks78

      Nope, me too. I love it as well.

  • twisted turtle

    Thanks for this article
    Before i read this article i thought it was just normal to to put on a mask and try to be as extroverted as possible. As people that I’m friends with are all very extroverted. They find it really strange when i switch off sometimes as they don’t know the introvert that hides away inside, that is always thinking that nobody will like me if I’m my self.

    So when i read this article it really helped me come to terms with the mask i put up when confronted with social situations. However i can’t really imagine leaving the mask behind and trying to be an extrovert.
    thank you

    • http://lonerwolf.com Aletheia Luna

      Hi there Twisted Turtle.

      It’s not always easy to give up the masks that we carry around with ourselves throughout the day. Sometimes they are necessary for us to excel in some areas of life. But eventually, we get tired. Denying our very natures is a laborious affair, that drains us physically and psychologically.

      All the best,

      -L

  • lonertwist

    Just happened to find this website, it’s like finding a friend! Although, I read “Party of One,” by Anneli Rufus, when it came out, I’m still discovering how much of a loner I have always been, and it has been complicated.

    I don’t want to get into all of it now; I will say it has never been easy for me to put on an extroverted mask, I’ve managed it well enough to end up with enough income to live alone. I went through three marriages (25 years of my life) before I understood being married made me feel socially accepted, not realizing how much I was letting myself be ground down.

    Fifteen years have gone by; most of my socializing comes through shopping, a few words here and there with someone, appointments that I have…. Happier than I had been. More is involved than just being a loner, and I no longer have any family ties, or see my daughter, and granddaughters.

    Being a “loner” is one dimension, I thought it was what I had to live with because of a congenital hearing loss, and being left to figure out how to deal with it by myself: no one helped me learn how to talk, how to read, what the alphabet meant. Who were these other people I saw, what did they do, how did they know what to do? It was not a fun time.

    I do talk with people, I have learned how to write, I enjoy reading, and a lot of things…! I have a degree. Being involved with people while I am trying to do something can become very difficult very fast, multitasking for me. It may well have played out quite differently if I had known all of this when I was young and could develop strategies, instead of just getting by. Making up for all of that now isn’t showing a lot of promise.

    Thank you for what you’re doing.

    • http://lonerwolf.com Aletheia Luna

      Lonertwist, thank you for sharing!

      There is great pride to be found in oneself for getting through such a difficult time in life, and I congratulate you on your persistence and strength of will in learning.
      Also, sometimes striving to make up for that which we lost in the path, steals away the beauty and bliss of the present moment. Perhaps something to be aware of.

      Thank you once again for reading!

      -L

  • Velvet Cherry

    Your insight has helped me to understand my personality much better. I always that I was responding in social situations a particular way but could not name it or explain it to others. I have experienced dropping the mask however instead of keeping it off I quickly recover when the individual expresses shock and explains what they are use to with me I just explain it off or apologize with an excuse and it back to acting again. because I am in the same environment most of the time home work or qym I have learned to transform accordingly. I can’t imagine how to be introverted in an extroverted world and still get along I don’t see the logic.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/sol Sol

      I am happy to hear our website has benefited you in such an important way. It is hard to understand for some people the concepts of “masks” as not everyone is aware of this. But to be capable of carrying these masks is quite beneficial to those that have the ability to wear them, it is almost as if you shared the virtues of Ambiverts who can benefit in both worlds.

      Congratulations for being a good social chameleon! :)

  • Attila Beres

    To me it all boils down to becoming aware of my needs, values, emotions and shaping my life accordingly. Being similarly introverted, in this library job setting I’d take note of my feelings of overwhelm, frustration and anxiety. Then I’d identify the underlying needs being the need to be authentic, the need for peace of mind, balance and solitude. Then I’d ask myself what changes I can make in my life in order to meet my needs both professionally and in general. I might realize that very few of the actual jobs available would ever bring me fulfilment except for counseling, coaching, HR and volunteer jobs which are in line with my values and my need to keep myself balanced (eg. no more, than 8 hours of work a day, working independently at a relaxed pace NOT willing to compromise in any of these). I might also realize I’ll be better off starting my own business as a coach, therapist or whatever I am talented in and gives me the most pleasure. I’d be learning from people who have already accomplished these and who are the best in the industry because I value and respect myself enough to be the best I can and to create the amazing life I deserve.

    • http://lonerwolf.com Luna

      Hi there Attila, thank you for sharing. I’m happy to read that you’re very much in control of your life, and aware of your needs at the same time. The problem with many of us is our willingness to compromise too much, to the detriment of our mental and physical well-being.

  • Ash

    Thank you for this article. I am transitioning from hardcore loner-hood to a more satisfactory life and the mechanics of the mask have been troubling for me. I cannot keep it on for very long at all, and often I’ll become my quiet, introverted self by the second or third meeting with a new friend, co-worker or acquaintance. Some take it well, others don’t. Living in this world, I don’t see any alternative but to raise my stamina and try to power through, because, as you know, we introverts are feared and… well, not hated but not exactly loved either.

    I wonder how many introverts I’ve met that have been forced to wear the mask as well. It must be a fair few.

    It sucks that we have to live in this way, but even with my introverted nature, I still get lonely. It’s nice to vent. Good luck to everyone.

    • http://lonerwolf.com Luna

      Ash, it’s frustrating living in a world that demands so much constant social contact, especially when you’re a loner. I too have an extremely introverted (loner) nature, and at the end of the day, I find that the best thing to do is to accept your limitations, to embrace who you are (and that there is nothing wrong with being the way you are), and to try your hardest to mold your life around your needs. But yes, raising your stamina and enhancing your skills, as well as broadening your experience is the best answer, unless you’re willing to become a hermit who lives in the wild with no guaranteed comfort or safety. In the end, you begin to realize that you can’t change the structure and demands of society, but you can change your perspective and approach towards them.
      All the best Ash. :)

  • Ambivert Dude

    I was with the article until it started painting the “mask” as some sort of deficiency or sign of insecurity. Perhaps it is at points, but I see it more as a tool, no different from the computer and other resources I use at work. It allows me to function in a world in which I want to succeed, and to communicate more effectively with others. Everyone wears a mask to some extent. The real question is whether the mask is a logical extension of who you are, or an entirely different persona. Compare this to an actor who plays roles that allow him or her to use the best parts of his or her natural personality on the stage. That would be my mask. I would discard it only if I changed careers entirely, and I don’t wish to do so.

    • http://lonerwolf.com Luna

      AmbivertDude, thanks for sharing your perspectives. I assume that your name suggests you are an Ambivert, or in other words, you naturally fluctuate between the states of introversion and extroversion? Itś therefore understandable that you see extroversion as a kind of tool, because it comes naturally to your nature. The Ambivert can be thought of as a kind of social chameleon, both being able to smoothly operate in the extrovert world, and in the introvert world (of course, to varying degrees). The introvert, on the other hand, finds it harder to adopt that extroverted facade. Ultimately, itś draining, entirely unnatural to the introvertś nature, and is often used as a way to mask deeper insecurities (e.g. of being alone all the time, trying to gain the approval of other people, etc.) So you see, itś much easier for the ambivert to use extroversion as a tool, than the introvert.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Steppenchook

    I find a big difference in my abilities to socialise within and outside the workplace. At a certain point I realised, to my great surprise, that I actually have quite a lot of friends that I love and respect. (They are all loopy weirdos in some way or other). This is in stark contrast with my comprehensive failure to cope socially in any work situation I have ever been in. Sure, I can fake normal pretty well, but only for short periods of time, and people tend to notice the inconsistency before too long.

    There is an interesting concept in psychology, that of ‘emotional labour’. It refers specifically to the way that a workplace expects you to project a particular emotional tone (often, but not always, outgoing, happy and friendly), This is particularly true of service jobs. There is an entry on it on Wikipedia if anyone is interested.

    I have an all-too-vivid memory of a ‘mask crack’ moment when I was working in an up-market plant nursery and homewares shop. I had decided that, on that particular day, my capacity to fake normal was seriously depleted, so I endeavored to simply keep to myself as much as possible. My boss bailed me up and challenged me, stating angrily that …”we are HAPPY people here!” (Yeah, I know). Anyhow, he promptly sacked me.

    But there is a silver lining to this story. As I was in the tea room collecting my things and wiping away the tears enough to face the bus home, I heard a commotion at the front of the shop. Someone had chosen that exact moment to drive by in a ute and steal a very expensive lifesize fibreglass sheep from the front display. Karma, hey?

    I will leave you with my favourite quote, from Albert Camus: “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

  • HiDDeN_EniGma

    *clap clap* that was me applauding :} thank you for the post! I enjoyed reading your perspective on the topic and it really made me think about my own.
    To me, what ever vert anyone is whether they are in or out, there’s always a hidden agenda…or enigma. :P The way one has been brought up, their surrounding environment and their influences will suggest if they convex or concave.
    A lot of introverts already have some underlying issues with shyness being one of them and the constant worry of what people would think of them. So not having to live up to anyone’s expectations is marvelous. Although, that is an expectation in itself.

    A lot of extroverts crave social attention as they don’t know how to be on there own and need that constant reassurance from the outside. They want to know they have a purpose in this world and their life holds some substant meaning.
    You might see them burst into a room and have to be the centre of attention. But don’t confuse them with people who are comfortable in their own skin.

    Which ever way we decide to vert I think it is crucial that we learn to accept ourselves and try and maintain some kind of balance. At the end of the day we must care most what we think about ourselves and that is all. As Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘What other people think of me is none of my business’ which happens to be very true. When we let what other people think of us or may think of us get in the way of what we think of ourselves, we are only creating a deep hole. This hole fills with stagnant energy, anxieties, fears, useless thoughts and unwanted feelings. This is something that I personally am still trying to let go of.
    So even those of us who seem to have it all together…don’t always do. You’re right, people begin expecting things from you and then you are under the pump, the pressure builds up and then the main water pipe bursts. But if you are surrounded by the right people, those who love you for who you are when you are at your best and at your worst, are understanding of why you do the things you do, it makes it much easier.

    And always take it from Dr Seuss he knows who and what matters the most :)
    Thanks for the post!

    ~Today You are You, that is truer then true. There is no one alive who is youer then you.~ Dr Seuss

    • http://lonerwolf.com/ Luna

      Convex or concave…I like your way of putting it EniGma :) 
      It’s a big topic…and certainly something worth writing about – whether introversion and extroversion, these two extremes, are purely by nature or nurture.  Perhaps both.  But to me they really do seem like reactions to the external environment either way – one either basks to much in the limelight and likes other people to validate their existence, or one withdraws into themselves quietly to renew and revitalize.  If there was an ideal state, I think it would be ambiversion.  I doubt many ‘ambiverts’ are driven to the need of putting on social masks.  They have failed to react to the outer world, and therefore have the best of both worlds, of introversion and extroversion. 

      Self acceptance – precisely… it’s so easy to talk about it and have a mental understanding of it, but harder to actually experience.  Our abilities to live a happy and free life seem to come down to our minds in the end.  Just like your thoughts about expectations.  Our minds are the cores of our worlds and we filter our perceptions of the world and ourselves with it.  If our minds are polluted with expectations, desires, ideals, beliefs, we feel a duality, and ourselves becoming split.  We want this, but we want that.  We want to be this way but we don’t.  It all seems to come down to discipline of the mind, and how introspective we can be.  And for that we need solitude.  

      Who knew Dr. Seuss was a fountain of wisdom? :P

      Thanks for reading :)   

  • Sandwichgod

    It really is difficult to drop the mask.  I really only drop it for people I trust, and especially for people that are like me.  If the person is a introvert and a loner, we will get along just fine and I have no problem being myself.  I have done a pretty good job of befriending like minded people.  Introverts make awesome friends because they are so low maintence.  I could not see one of my friends for months and then they would randomly show up in my life.  We would talk to each other like we had seen each other yesterday.  They would then disappear again. Only to be seen a month or two into the future.  Those kind of people (for me) make ideal friendships.

    But when it comes to extroverts I put on the mask. I play the game, because that is what it is, a game.  I really don’t want to outcast myself.  I don’t want to be seen as different.  I don’t want that kind of attention.  Extroverts in groups can make my life hell, and being different will only encourage them.  I enjoy being around extroverts. At work, I enjoy hearing there stories, laughing at there jokes, telling them my own stories and jokes.  It distracts me from work.  I just don’t want them to feel uncomfortable around me. I hate hearing “Matt is here, I hate working with that guy.”  I want them to enjoy being around me.  Its not really about me at that point.  Its more about coping, and having a good time with the people that are around me because it is better than feeling miserable and making everyone else miserable.  Do I get overwhelmed?  Yes.  Do I find time during the day to escape to my own world?  Hell yes.  I always come home to be by myself.  To recharge.  To truly be myself in my own world, where I am the happiest.  But if I have to be around people, if I have to be social, I would much rather feel connected and liked than be my true self and alienate everyone around me.  I never hang out with those people outside of work also.  Which kind of confuses them, but they seem to accept it.

    I really enjoy your site by the way.  Its a nice place to come, and reinforce that it is okay to be myself.  It is okay to be a loner.  I feel peace, happiness, and acceptance when I come here.  I sure that is your intention.  So thank you, and keep up the good work.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/ Luna

      It is Sandwhichgod, and it’s even harder to destroy that mask once and for all.  I know what you mean about finding introverted friends.. it’s almost like a miracle to find someone who is happy and comfortable with silence, amid all those who don’t.  As well as those who are happy to be their quiet selves.  I’ve met a few of these like-minded people who are unashamedly introverted, and who don’t put on extroverted affectations for anyone.  It’s really admirable.  I wonder how they do it, and realize that they truly don’t care what others say or think about them. To me that shows an amazing strength of character.
      I have the same issue as you – wanting desperately to be liked by the exuberantly sociable people I come in contact with…I like the feeling of playing the game in such a way as to cause as little confrontation as possible.  But it’s such a hard and sickly task.  I think at the end of the day we all want to feel connected as you say, but we go about it in the wrong way.

      Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate your feedback ;)  Hope the site continues to be inspiring.

      Best wishes  ~Luna