Introversion vs Extroversion

Published in Personal - 2 mins to read

Yesterday my manager made a comment along the lines of;

Usually I think I can tell pretty easily whether or not someone is introverted or extroverted, but with you Jonny I can’t quite figure it out.

It tickled me, largely because I’m not sure I can work it out myself either. I’ve always felt like it is somehow “better” to be an extrovert, and have made an effort to overcome some of my introverted nature. I’ve never wanted to be the quiet guy in the corner, keeping himself to himself, I want to interact, to connect, to find joy in my time with others. While my comfort zone when it comes to social interaction is laughably small, I have made plenty of efforts to leave it over the years, in part because I feel that’s what I “should” do and in part because I’m hoping there will be gold at the end of the rainbow. But doing this in a sustainable way, as a force for good in my life, has been easier said than done.

In some social situations I feel great, everything comes naturally, I feel like I have a rapport with others and I find the interactions nourishing. My energy feels replenished after this kind of communication. Other times I find myself unable to face the thought of having a conversation with anyone, I shut myself off completely, and when I do have to communicate with someone, it’s incredibly painful (for both parties); I can’t find the right words, I panic and get anxious, I’m flat out difficult to talk to. And then I spend the rest of that day lamenting that I’d created such an unpleasant experience for the other party. Those days I want to live a hermit forever, in my cave in the mountains, cut off from the world - although a human detox would probably do.

I’m still figuring out how best to protect my energy, and it seems I am accustomed to giving too much of it away for little in return. Like a gambler at a slot machine, I know that sometimes I’ll hit it big, so I keep putting more emotional money into other people’s machines, not seeing that I’m slowly frittering away what I have. One of the silver linings of lockdown has been that it’s forced me to re-evaluate all these things, and given me some time and space which I have been able to truly make my own. I’ve found it very peaceful.