The trouble with being an extrovert.
An Extrovert is defined as “an outgoing, overtly expressive person”. Quite frankly, this definition sucks (Sorry Google).
An extrovert is far more than that. While an introvert is someone that refuels or loads up on energy in solitude and alone time, an extrovert is quite the opposite. The deal with us peculiar folk is that we reboot in the company of others. People are our ultimate source of energy. As grand as we are inside, they remain our ultimate solace.
Not that anyone is pure introvert or extrovert, mind you. If that were the case we would all need a lunatic asylum, as Carl Jung, the man behind the concept, would say. Thankfully however, we all lie somewhere on a spectrum on which pure introversion and extroversion are the two extremes. I do not mean to offend anyone that doesn’t fully comply with what I intend to say, whether it’s the introverted extroverts, extroverted introverts or the ambiverts, the guys in between. Even so, to all of you who ache for the company of others, this one’s for you.
Besides the agony of being in the presence of someone with headphones on, or having the energy of a bloody hurricane on a Monday morning, extroverts are usually the pleasantly excited bunch in the crowd. They enjoy networking, welcome and even pursue social interactions. They are opinionated and outspoken. Upbeat with high self-esteem, extroverts usually have a good story to tell. Their wardrobe is most likely to be scattered between their closets and their cars, just in case. They are the life of the party, the guys dancing in the que, before the doors even open.
While all of this sounds dandy, there are a lot of setbacks to being an overly excited and people-loving firecracker.
The first is quite simple: Extroverts make homes in people.
Imagine that. You’d think wood and concrete are shaky but not really, people are. But we make homes in them. We give them our time, love and affection. We do it so easily it’s almost impossible to filter any of it. We come as we are. So many of them deserve it, of course. We get a natural high when they are happy, but hit the ground with a plunge if they are not quite there. That in essence, is not a problem. The fact that we are wired to them however, could be. If there’s a negative energy in room filled with people, it’s almost impossible not to let it seep in. Our energy levels are directly correlated and we become at an immediate disadvantage.
Some Extroverts can also be way too cheerful, way more than others can comprehend. “What in God’s name is making you so happy”, they ask. Or something kinder like, “Your smile is contagious (you jolly psychopath)”. Katherine Lucas called this type of extrovert the affiliative extrovert. These people are brilliant in social contexts and can be excellent leaders. However, their smiles, she argued, often made people label them as submissive, not as serious as they should be, especially in a corporate setting.
But this is mere perception right? extroverts don’t necessarily have to be submissive or psychopathic. It doesn’t mean that they are happy either, but it’s the façade of their being, “the great wall of china” we often call our social selves. This surfaces Ernest Hemingway’s “you are so quiet I forget you are suffering”. I think the problem is that we spend too much time categorizing people that we often dismiss all the added value their personality, façade or not, brings to the table. Susan Cain talks about introverts as such. Despite some negative stereotypes about the introverted folk, she speaks of all their valuable qualities, and their power to find peace in their very own presence. Incredible, to say the least. Her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” delves into just that.
To the extroverts, a valuable lesson I will end with that we can take from the introverts of our world is this: We can try our best to enjoy the company of others and even more so the company of ourselves. Maybe in those moments we can find the clarity we so deeply need, away from the noise and clutter of everyday life.
Meanwhile, until your next outing, keep it together, the people who love you will still be there.