What I've Learned as an Extrovert
One evening, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine after I had revealed my feelings to a guy, and I said, “I’m worried he doesn’t think I’m mysterious anymore.” She began laughing hysterically and once she saw I was not happy with her response, she looked at me very seriously and said, “Look—you may appear that way at first, but that’s not who you really are. You’re passionate, alive, and fearless. Mysterious— you are not.” My insecurity surrounding the situation instantly vanished. Extroverts aren’t automatically 100% confident all time. Just because I usually prefer company to alone time, wear my heart on my sleeve, and enjoy performing for others, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with self-doubt. That’s part of being human. The same is true in reverse. In fact, for a while, I was convinced introverts were more confident. We’ve all had someone in our lives who preferred being alone, did not wear their heart on their sleeve, and was focused stunningly introspective, that we thought was super “cool.” Truth is, I think we have more in common than people think, and that it’s all a spectrum. The manner in which I’ve always expressed myself, though, has taught me a great deal. Here are three things I’ve learned from being an extrovert.
To balance my privacy with my desire to share.
There are some things I’ve always desired to keep private, and certain social arenas I will always hold back in. You can read my post on how I balance authenticity and privacy on social media here. However, when it comes to day to day dealings and conversations with friends, I do tend to share without holding back. In the past, I’ve definitely been quick to trust people with my feelings. Over the years, I’ve learned to tune in to other people, what they’re willing to receive from me, and follow my intuition. As an extrovert, my instinct was to show each person all of me, but I soon realized that not everyone is worthy of that. Plain and simple: you can’t trust everyone with your business. Your feelings and your business is on you to keep sacred. It’s on you to protect your privacy. This is something I’ve learned the hard way several times, and I’m sure I will have to keep learning this, but I’m increasingly more aware of others’ proclivities. I’m refuse to become jaded because I keep people in my life that are worthy of my openness, celebrate those relationships, and do my best to take responsibility when I shared without practicing any discretion.
People open up to open people.
Did you ever hear the phrase, “It’s more afraid of you, than you are of it” when someone is talking about an animal in the wild? Well, most of the time, the same goes for people. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve went right up to strangers and began a conversation in a social setting. I’ve never tried to focus on being the most attractive person at a bar or party. That’s meaningless and will get you no where. If you focus on being approachable and interesting, you may just have a chance to connect with someone new. Just last week, my friend wanted to talk to some people across the bar so I led with a simple question. “What is that you’re drinking?” They answered, and I followed up with an honest opinion on that kind of drink. Before I knew it, we were all talking and hanging out the rest of the evening. Sharing your own opinions and being inquisitive about other’s opinions seems like a no-brainer conversation formula, but more often than not, we analyze what we share and hold back all candor. This dead-ends a conversation. Other people can sense when we’re holding back and will generally withdraw or lose interest. Over-thinking gets us no where, but the ability to let go and live in the moment will serve us. I’ve seen in people I love, that it’s not easy to let go of social anxiety, but when we take courage to connect the reward is always greater than the risk.
Accept that what I perceive to be a negative trait is the result of another positive trait.
Mysterious. Coy. Demure. I’m none of those. Now, I can definitely take on those traits from time to time (I’m a multi-dimensional human-being as we all are), but my friends describe me as: Outgoing. Animated. Extra. Throughout my early teenage years I spent a lot of time trying to adapt to the first set traits in order to appear “cool.” A few years later, I realized what makes you truly “cool” is not caring about the opinions of others. Being who you are without apology. The more I put myself out there, the more connected I felt to my own identity. Once I was rooted in that, I could celebrate my own personality. The same part of me that has a hard time being laid back, is the same part of me that communicates openly and honestly. The same part of me that makes an absolute fool out of myself dancing in the car (I’ve definitely made it on a snapchat story or two) is the same part of me that can have fun most anywhere. I’m not worried about appearing “mysterious” anymore.
Taking time for some honest reflection to find the positive and negative effects of our habits can lead to growth, stability, and peace. Are you an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert? Where have your instincts led you? If you’d like to continue the conversation, pop into the comments or drop me a comment on this Instagram post. i’ll be replying to comments throughout the day and week.
WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: All images were taken at a meet-up organized by Rory McCarthy. All above images in this post were captured by Dymphena Michalena and Anthony Luzius. Ashli Sjolander captured the blooper photo of Rory and I below. Enjoy my extroversion in full form. I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of this creative community in Pittsburgh yet again. I’m going to miss all of these lovely people while I’m in Chicago. Please, please check out their work and give them a follow on the gram.