How To Learn To Be An Extrovert

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Courtney Prather / Unsplash

ENFJ is a combination of four letters that generally doesn’t mean a whole lot to most people but to people who identify with them, it means a lot.

There are sixteen personality types within the Myers-Briggs classification system and those who agree with the results they are given tend to spread their combination of letters far and wide. As an ENFJ, I am an extrovert who relies heavily on intuition and making sure there are peace and harmony in my world. I am highly sensitive to the emotions of others, absorbing them as my own, and can, in certain situations, put those emotions ahead of my own.

But that’s not really what this is about.

I am surrounded on all sides by people who identify as introverts. People who need alone time just as much as I need people time. If they are around too many people for too long, they get grumpy. If I am left alone for too long, I become a surly mound of salt who is not incredibly pleasant to be around. As a creative, I tend to spend a lot of time inside my own head and it can get a little gloomy if I have to be there for too long.

But being around introverts, I tried for a long time, to shoehorn myself into their world. When I originally tested as an extroverted Myers-Briggs type, I fought it. I don’t like people. I hate crowds. Everyone in my immediate circle does so I must too, right? They are my friends because we are similar, right?

As I have spent more time on my own, I have come to accept, nay, embrace, this extroverted side of myself. I read somewhere that introverts make friends in one of two ways. Through other introversion-centric activities like book clubs, or because an extrovert liked them and adopted them as their own. Which explains why so many of my friends are introverts. I just pick them all up as I go, shuffling them into my fold, taking on the role of Friend Who Will Talk to Random Strangers in My [their] Stead, allowing them to blend in with the scenery.

And I love being an extrovert.

Since embracing this aspect of my personality, I have had a lot of tremendous experiences that I wouldn’t have had, had I continued to hide away in my cavern of faux-introverted solitude. I travel alone. I enjoy having another person with whom to share my adventures but I am not worried about being by myself if no one wants to join me. I am not afraid to jump into the middle of a conversation between strangers, especially at a social event. Standing in line at concerts is the best place to do this and then, even though I came alone, I don’t have to be alone. I’ve even made a couple of new friends that way. This tends to horrify my introverted friends but it also takes the focus away from them, which is another reason introverts have extroverted friends.

There are other aspects of my personality that make this new life as an extrovert somewhat tedious. As an intellectual and creative, I hate small talk but as an extrovert I find myself drawn to it constantly. I think I put off a vibe to strangers that I am someone who will be willing to talk because I genuinely like other humans. Which tends to lead to them jabbering on endlessly, more often than not, about themselves. But as a creative and intellectual, I am also 100% comfortable turning off my love of humanity to plug in my earbuds and bury my nose in a book, thus also turning off my blinking neon “Talk to me!!” sign.

For me, it’s all about balance. I am an extrovert and I am comfortable talking to people, approaching strangers, speaking my mind when something needs to be said, but the biggest thing I have learned is that I don’t have to be outgoing and boisterous 24/7 in order to feed my extroversion. I just have to find the people and things that don’t make me feel like isolation is going to push me to the edge of sanity. I have learned that while people recharge my batteries, solitude helps me power down. I have learned that, in the right company, under the right circumstances, I can keep going long after most people would be exhausted because the right company keeps me energized.

And I am learning more about being an extrovert, every day. TC mark

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