I am an extroverted introvert, yet many people struggle to understand what those two words mean individually, much less together. In college, when I’m more outgoing, people hardly believe I’m an introvert at heart. At home, where I spend more time alone, people hardly believe I have an extroverted bone in my body.
Needless to say, it’s a struggle.
For those of you that don’t know, introvertedness/extrovertedness is not about how outgoing or shy you are. It’s about where you get your energy. When they are exhausted, the introverts will do something where no social interaction or minimal social interaction is required to recharge. The extroverts will do the opposite.
That is the difference between an introvert and extrovert. Nothing more, nothing less.
When I was younger–actually up until I was a college student–, I would have never thought of myself as an extrovert in any way. I was (and still am) a huge book nerd. I loved (and still love) my quiet time. I was more or less shy. I fit the introvert stereotype. Whereas my mom and brother could go for what seemed like weeks on end without a single moment alone, I crashed within 2 or 3 hours of pure social interaction. I was an introvert through and through, and everyone in my life seemed to agree.
But then, I got to college. I was suddenly surrounded by people that were interested in the same things as me. People who loved to read, who loved school, who were so similar to me. And, let’s just say I went a little crazy. I became the most outgoing I had ever been.
In just the first week of school, my freshman year roommate and I were walking back to the dorm and she said, “Camden, are you sure you’re an introvert? Because you seem pretty extroverted to me.”
And that got me thinking. Yes, at home, I did tend to retreat into my shell more, but here, I found it easy to go weeks with minimal alone time. I was becoming extroverted.
For a bit, I was in denial. I liked being introverted. I liked having my alone time, but I found myself no longer needing it as much. I believed that I had two monsters, one introverted and one extroverted, battling it out within me and eventually, one would win.
But, that’s not how it works. Who says that the monsters inside you can’t live in perfect harmony?
Being outgoing does not mean you’re extroverted. Being shy does not mean your introverted. And, most importantly, it is possible to be a mixture of the two.