I have to get some of my thoughts out there.
Yep. I’m an extrovert. And I’ve felt a little slapped in the face by the internet lately. Lots of articles about how to care for introverts, and how to make space for introverts, and how to love introverts, and why being an introvert is awesome, and why introverts are more awesome than extroverts.
And yes, there are many many ways I have learned to do these things over the past few years. I’ve learned to ask my introverted friends, “Did you have good alone time this week?” before asking to hang out. I’ve learned to be okay with silence on car rides. I’ve learned to give space in meetings for introverts to think before speaking.
But just because I’m extroverted, doesn’t mean I don’t need specific ways of being cared for either.
As irrational as it may sound, when I am by myself I think something is wrong with me. I think I’m not cool enough because no one is wanting to hang out with me at that moment. I think all my friends are somewhere else, having fun without me, specifically not inviting me to be a part of their activities.
And if I’m alone too long, I actually get lost in my thoughts. They get jumbled inside my head; if I don’t let them out verbally, they just get more and more tangled. When I was writing my application for InterVarsity staff, I couldn’t just sit there and fill it out. I had to have a friend read me the question out loud and I had to answer out loud before I could write it down. Thoughts don’t come together in my head – they come together after they are verbalized. Sometimes, typing and writing can count as verbalizing; that’s why this blog is helpful for me (y’know, extroverts gotta extrovert).
Sometimes, when we are too focused on allowing introverts to recharge by being by themselves, we forget that that extroverts need space to recharge as well – but that space has to include people and talking and connecting through conversation. If I don’t have a meaningful conversation in a day (whether that be online, in person, on the phone, through texts), it seems like a waste and I go to sleep feeling pretty terrible.
I cannot speak for every extrovert, but for me, here’s a little “How To Care For Extroverts” guide:
- When you ask me how I am, expect an answer longer than “good” or “okay.” And then actually listen to me as I tell you how I am. It might take a while.
- When I text you, I’m usually looking for more than a one word answer, and hoping that you ask me a question in return to start a conversation. I might be sad (not offended) if you don’t.
- Don’t take my yawning as a sign I’m done for the night. I will stay awake talking to you or hanging out until you are done. I can be around people until I’m literally falling asleep. And even then, it’s hard to leave.
- I will go to great lengths to spend time with you; don’t take this as being creepy as I move things around to make room for you. My schedule is busy, but it’s okay because it means I get to be around people.
- Don’t take the first words out of my mouth on a topic as my absolute feelings on them. The first thing I say probably makes no sense, or it doesn’t accurately represent my feelings. It takes me a couple tries to put my feelings into words, and I have to do it out loud. Sometimes my lightbulb moments come mid-sentence, so I might have to interrupt you or I’ll forget it.
I’m thankful for this BuzzFeed article, as it at least starts putting the needs of extroverts on the map. We aren’t mindless, shallow, partying drones that flit from conversation to conversation, using people to suck in all the energy we can until we collapse.
We do like to read. We like Netflix marathons and walks in the park and cooking and crafts. We just prefer to do it with friends.