Extroverted Introverts Can Be Social. We Just Prefer Not To. Most Of The Time.
I recently tried to google “social discomfort.” Guess what? Every link related to this term, or to “socially awkward,” the term that pops up when trying to search out information about feeling uncomfortable in social settings, pretty much leads to articles and posts on Social Anxiety Disorder and lists of ways to overcome it.
I am not socially awkward. No one seems to find me particularly awkward when in social settings. And I am great at one-on-one interactions. Or so I am told.
But I FEEL awkward/uncomfortable in social/group settings. I do not like crowds. I especially do not like large, uncontrolled crowds (think concerts, festivals, fairs, etc.), and I therefore prefer to avoid those types of situations.
Except, I am an author, a writing instructor, a book coach, and a presenter. I cannot completely avoid those types situations. So, I go there. I do that. And, at the end of the day, I scurry home to recuperate. Because it is exhausting to me to be in those situations.
Does that mean I have some level of social anxiety? Perhaps. But not to the point that I would call it a disorder. I don’t consider this aspect of personality a disorder, at all. It just happens to be a part of who I am in the world. Nor do I really have any desire to “fix” this aspect of who I am. In fact, I doubt that I could, if I wanted to.
I have become rather attached to the introverted extrovert label, which I now use to try and explain my relationship to the world and, well, people. To read more about this term, check out “If You Relate to These 10 Signs, You’re Probably an ‘Extroverted’ Introvert.”
While I relate to all of the signs to some degree, number 10 on the list stands out. I am not only “often” but pretty much always mistaken for an extrovert!
I have learned to work to my strengths, handling social interactions in the ways that allow me to be myself.
This requires a certain level of planning on my part.
Invitations to two (or more) closely scheduled social gatherings? I have learned I need to opt out of one (or more).
Gatherings that include complete strangers? I need to find a quiet place to settle, or limit the amount of time I spend before excusing myself.
Large events, like book festivals of conventions? Identify the easiest/fastest routes between the places I need to be (including the nearest amenities) prior to the start of the event.
And, come to find out, there are a lot more people like me than I thought. The more writers I meet, the more I have realized, I am not alone.
The world expects us to want to be social. And that is understandable. Humans are, after all, social animals. But, for some of us, a little goes a looooong, long way. Extroverted introverts can be social, we just prefer not to most of the time.
So, to all the extroverted introverts out there, I see you, but I won’t force you to hang out in public with me.