As my life is a never-ending series of self-revelations I learn to articulate, this week I realized that I am extroverted, but not outgoing.
Is that possible?
Experience and knowledge of labels and how nebulous they are tells me yes. But this is difficult. Most of the definitions these words use the other to describe their meaning. This makes it nigh impossible to truly articulate WHAT EXACTLY I mean when I say this.
But I can try!
Extrovert: “a gregarious and unreserved person” (merriam-webster)
One could say that I am definitely both of these things. I prefer to be out in a crowd or with someone one-on-one than alone at home (though my alone time is very important, too much of it gives me the sads) and really enjoy learning about strangers and meeting new people!
About.com actually has a fantastic article on the meaning of Extrovert:
- Most people believe that an extrovert is a person who is friendly and outgoing. While that may be true, that is not the true meaning of extroversion. Basically, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone.
In a way, I lose brain power on my own. I’m a blob, a lump of jelly, a single-celled organism that can only think about reddit and puppies. I think OUT LOUD and am straight up not motivated to turn cogs without someone around to throw ideas back at me.
If I have a friend over, I’m much more likely to improvise stir fry, bake cookies, suggest an event, or look for something fun to do than if I’m alone. I live for (at least, I really enjoy… and HOPE that I live for) moments when I can make someone else smile, or give them something new.
But people assume (often, all the time, constantly) that because I am extroverted, I am game for things that are daring! They are shocked and appalled when I decline, often pointing out that Person B, who is VERY SHY, is totally willing to do said daring thing! Why wouldn’t BrittNeigh! BrittNeigh who totally will corral a group of 25 women in public! BrittKnee, who has no problem singing songs from Oklahoma while walking down a highway! BrittNooo who makes friends easily and has social plans almost every night of the week!
Introversion & Extroversion don’t really apply here.
Yeah, I’m okay with introducing myself to a stranger, but it really doesn’t compare to launching myself off a cliff or jumping off a plane.
My experiences are definitely not yours, but I am kind of tired of people being shocked and nigh-outraged at my lack of desire to get on a roller coaster, or careen down a snow-covered hill at high velocity.
I enjoy being safe. Safety includes not traveling at high speeds and wearing a helmet & seat belt at all times. Safety includes staying on the ground and applauding as professionals do crazy stunts. Safety includes drinking hot toddies by the fire and keeping the cabin warm for when the rest of the crew comes back, wet and sore, from an evening out being cold in the outdoors. I am perfectly happy missing out on these fantastic events and being a spectator.
The alternative definition for outgoing is: Outgoing: leaving, departing. I kind of want to co-opt that definition and apply it to myself. I’m not good at leaving my comfort zone. I’m not that great at walking into a brand new group of people. I’m terrible at events or locations that are new to me, especially if they require any degree of athleticism (I’m looking at YOU, caving experience!) or social niceties (I am loud and often abrasive. When I’m anxious, I have a hard time not getting more so).
I’m not saying I cannot do these things. I am just not inclined to do them. Most of the time I will go out of my way to avoid them. Caving two years ago was a FANTASTIC experience! But I spent the entire time alone, in the back, scared out of my wits, trying to not have a panic attack. It’s not a situation that calls for making people laugh or baking cookies, and actually, it was a situation that made me feel socially terrible. I was such a drag! I didn’t make anyone laugh! I was too focused on being scared to be entertaining!! You have to balance and go within yourself to fully experience and enjoy it. Snowboarding? That would involve me, ALONE, CAREENING DOWN A SLOPED SURFACE. (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
I don’t really know what the point I’m making is, save the unfortunate fact that a lot of people misinterpret what “personality rules” determine about that person. I know a TON of people who are more introverted than I am who are 100% willing to skydive, ride roller coasters, and play paintball with a smile on their face. I’d just feel awful the entire time, it’s just not my type of fun.
But when you need a friend, man, you know who to call.