A Shy Extrovert?

I’ve wondered for quite a while if I am an introvert or an extrovert.  For some people it’s easy to tell.  There is some confusion about the actual definitions of introverts and extroverts.  So let me clear the air on that.  The short answer is that extroverts get energized by being around people and introverts get energized by being alone.  Typically extroverts are outgoing and sociable while introverts prefer to observe quietly. But that’s not the case for everyone. For some reason I thought that being an introvert or an extrovert was very black or white.  You were either one or the other.  I never thought it was possible to have some of both qualities.   I’m learning that some introverts can be very social and some extroverts feel shy or reserved.  That that pretty much describes me.  I fall into the extrovert category because I really enjoy being around people.  When I’m at a party or with a group of friends, I feel happy and energized.   And when I come home after those types of activities, I usually feel full of energy instead of exhausted. I do not like being alone for long periods of time.  But I very much identify with some of the typical character traits of introverts.   Here’s a short list of introvert traits that I can identify with:

  • Don’t like small talk
  • Likes to listen
  • Likes to observe or people watch
  • Quiet
  • Don’t want to be the center of attention

Then there’s the dreaded “S” word.  Shy.  I have been called shy many times in my life and it has always bothered me.  Sometimes I would even get angry at people for calling me that.  To me, being shy means something totally negative.   The definition of the word shy is being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people.  I’m fine with being called reserved, but I hate to admit that I feel nervous or timid around people.  But it’s oh so true for me.   I am very much a shy extrovert.  I like to be around people, but don’t make me talk to people I don’t know.  I want to attend parties, but I’m totally fine with watching the group or talking with someone that I already know well.  Please, oh please don’t make me have small talk with someone I just met.  That makes me feel very awkward and uncomfortable.  That’s when I tend to stumble over my words or act all weird.  You can see why I was very confused whether I was an introvert or an extrovert!

If I was given a whole day to be alone to do whatever I wanted, I’d probably be fine for the first few hours, but then I’d start to go batty.  I get lonely when I’m alone for too long!  I start to feel lost, like I can’t find any meaningful direction.  Sure, I love curling up with a favorite book and reading for a while, but that would not work for me for hours on end.  I’d get so bored!   So yes, I am an extrovert because I get my energy from being around other people.  It’s a strange thing being a shy extrovert.  People sometimes think that I’m snobby because I don’t talk much.  I honestly just don’t know what to say sometimes.  I’ve actually gotten somewhat better about this through the years, learning to ask people questions to steer the conversation away from myself and get the other person talking.  It doesn’t come naturally, but it’s helped me cope.  I’m also self conscious and insecure.  I fear rejection and I hate being embarrassed.  You can see why making new friends is especially hard for me.  I love people, but fear being rejected by them.  I don’t want to be embarrassed by saying or doing something stupid so I tend to be quiet.  It can be a conundrum!

When I’m with a small group of people that I know well and feel comfortable with, then I open up!  I laugh, joke, chat easily and really enjoy being in those social situations.  It makes me feel alive being around the people that I know well.  But oh boy, when I have to go to a new place and meet new people…yikes!!!  Don’t make me talk to strangers please!!   Unless perhaps I’ll never have to see them again, then maybe.  :)   So if you know me and if you’ve ever thought that I was stuck up, shy, awkward, or just plain weird, now you know that I’m a shy extrovert.  I probably want to be around you, but you’ll need to approach me and start up a conversation.  If you help me feel welcome and comfortable then I’ll  happily open up.  I promise, I’m nice and I don’t bite.  :)

Now I’m curious, are you an introvert, an extrovert or a little bit of both?

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5 Responses
  1. Abbey G. says:

    We are so much alike it’s scary. I too don’t like the term shy. I thrive off of being social but larger groups and certain personalities make me close up and get quiet. I also always worry that I’m coming off as a snob when I really just don’t have anything to say.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for commenting Abbey! I hope we can be good friends…that is, if we’re both not too scared to talk to each other!

  3. Kathy S. says:

    I like your thoughts on this. Many or most people are somewhere on the ‘range’ of extrovert to introvert. And, most introverts learn to extrovert, just to function in society. I was married to a strong extrovert, and Extroverts need to talk just to think! I consider myself a ‘noisy introvert’. BTW: Gathering energy from a small group of friends is an introvert characteristic. However, intros are not the ones to gather energy from a large group of strangers or mere acquaintances.

  4. Katrina J. says:

    I, too, identify with your feelings about the word shy. I’m also similar to you in many other ways (not liking small talk or going up to talk to new people, but loving being in small groups of people I know well). But I get most energized from having “me” time, so in that way we’re different. I didn’t realize I could be a bit of both, either, so thanks for the info! Very interesting.

  5. Carolyn says:

    Hmm, maybe I’m more introverted than I think then. Since I do get energy from a small group of friends, but not so much from a big group of strangers.

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