Social Butterfly Yet Also Probably Nervous Sweating Right Now: Life as a “Situational Extrovert”

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If you asked someone who knows me fairly well to describe me, they’d probably use one or more of these words: outgoing, extroverted, and/or social. The phrase “loud” may even be thrown into the mix. I love people and meeting new people, but to hear someone describe me as an extrovert is sort of bizarre, because at my core I’m definitely an introvert. As a little kid I was SUPER shy, and even as an adult I get uncomfortable in large groups where I don’t know many people, or when I’m traveling to new places.

But moving to a new city and getting older/slightly wiser has turned me into what I call a situational extrovert. I will nervous sweat my way through a networking event or social function where I don’t know many people, because despite my nerves, I love these types of things. I know they’re good for me. But after the event is over, I come home and crash. Sometimes this sharp contrast makes me feel like a fraud, but I really do enjoy networking when I’m there. It’s just the aftermath that leaves me tired.

I spent the past few days in New York City as my dad’s plus one for a business function he was attending. I met a lot of new people and definitely enjoyed myself, but as I sat in LaGuardia waiting to go home, I felt like I could fall asleep sitting up in the terminal. I had slept well during the trip (despite a random 6 a.m. fire alarm one night) so that wasn’t the issue. But meeting strangers, making small talk, and trying not to be awkward wipes me out. It’s a different kind of tired, the kind you feel in your bones or something.

Some people don’t seem to understand this whole phenomenon. How can you be chatting up strangers and having a great time one hour, yet desperately craving time with your bed and Netflix the next? How can you love going to networking events, yet also feel like they totally exhaust you? After talking with other situational extroverts though, I’ve realized this is actually a real sensation.

I crave social time, but I also need a healthy dose of solo time to recalibrate myself and recharge my batteries, particularly when I’m in a high energy situation where I’m meeting new people, going to new places, or spending time in a big group. I used to think this was some sort of bizarre flaw that needed correcting, but now I know it’s just part of my personality type. It’s something I have to recognize and embrace. Introverts of varying degrees, unite! We’re an often misunderstood group, but we’re a fun breed for sure.

Speaking of introverts, I read an awesome book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. If you’re an introvert or love someone who is, it’s a must read. If you’re interested in buying it, you can check it out below via Amazon.

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