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I am an Introvert - I Swear

Why do I always feel that I have to quantify and prove myself to others when it comes to such personal descriptors? I have spent a lot of time figuring out, slowing down, and figuring out who I am. A journey in which I am definitely still on. But I feel that compared to the average amount of effort in which people put into doing such things, I am up there.

When it comes to introversion v.s. extroversion, it is often confused as to who we present to be and who we actually are. The qualifiers for extroversion are not simply appearing to be social and enjoying extreme amounts of social interaction, but rather that the individual is actually fueled by such interactions and obtain energy from it.

From an outsider's perspective, such as my very incessant grandmother's opinions, I am an extrovert because I can engage a room, talk to strangers with minimal visible discomfort and perform on stage with an effervescent energy. The problem is not a flawed perspective one has of themselves but outsiders perspectives making determinations of who we are based exclusively on external cues.

An individual's emotional experience is largely internal but judged by others as primarily external. This conflict of paradigms causes mental health stigma, emotional misunderstandings, and chronic disease ignorance. Pain or discomfort that is "invisible" gets disqualified and written off as "phantom pain" or irrelevant. Yet, to those experiencing them, they are often far worse than the external pains and discomforts that as a society we are conditioned to care about.I am an introvert that is very good at social situations, because I have conditioned myself to be so. I am a performer. I enjoy performing and sharing an experience with an audience. I enjoy working with the public and different communities to step towards social change and impact. I interact in social situations not because being around others fuels my energy stores and makes me “feel alive”.But, I bring myself to those social engagements for the work outcomes, the opportunity for bountiful collaboration. It is NOT just to be around and talk to other people.

I know the value of social interactions, especially in the fields I work in. But in my personal life, I recover and restore not at large gatherings or bars full of people rather in spaces of silent seclusion. I engage in practices such as bullet journaling and yoga where I can release the anxieties of social interactions and bring things back to a level of gratitude and introspection.

I think perhaps the easiest way to figure out another's level of introversion vs extroversion is to take note of their self-care rituals and habits. Where do they find places of ease, comfort, and relaxation. Where do they go for self-improvement or enrichment activities? Do you notice them needing to find a quiet minute alone in the middle of social engagements or can they keep going, fueled by being surrounded in constant kinetic energy? If they dance, do they prefer social dancing with a high level of communication required or do they go to a dance class like ballet, modern, or even yoga where the focus is on the individual, but being surrounded by other individuals also primarily focused on themselves? Do you notice them needing space alone to decompress from a long day or do they want to immerse themselves in more social interactions?

These are just a few questions to consider if truly wanting to pick up on someone's natural and true state of intro/extroversion. Or, better yet, have a conversation with them on how they recover and relax, where they feel the most at peace and centered. Communication is so vital regardless of where one falls on this spectrum. In many cases, those who identify as more introverted may be even more open and concise communicators, valuing in depth and effective interactions over surface level chit chat extroverts may engage in before getting to the epicenter of a conversation.

Regardless, do not feel pressured into identifying with what personality others try to tell you you possess. Outward demonstration and actual characteristics of personality can be highly contrasting. The only person who should question this scale if desired is the individual for themselves. Just because you can successfully engage in public does not make you an extrovert. Contrastingly, just because you enjoy having one on one conversations and can successfully sit alone and examine your internal state does not mean you are an introvert. It is all a scale with each individual possessing some combination of both camps. But it is not for an outsider to make that determination.

Conscious gratitude and love,

Ana Marie


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