I’ve been an extrovert for the majority of my life. An outgoing child, I grew into a popular teenager who turned into a party girl for pretty much the entirety of my twenties. I loved being an extrovert. I was proud of it. And to be honest, didn’t understand – or care to understand – introverts. They didn’t make sense to me. How could you possibly want to stay home all the time? Don’t you get bored?
Then something changed in me. It was slow and subtle at first. I started to lose the urge to constantly go out. I started to get tired of all of it. Actually, I started to question everything about it, from why I was constantly going out to if I even wanted to be out. I began to lose interest in small talk. I didn’t see the point in it. I didn’t want to talk about shows or other people anymore, I wanted to talk about life and get to know the depths of the person I was talking to.
My inner extrovert fought these changes and fought hard, constantly trying to convince me to “just go out and have a good time.” She used jabs about my age, telling me I was no longer young and fun. I hated hearing that.
But there was a new part of me surfacing. A quieter part. A part that was completely fine staying in on a Friday night – heck, an entire weekend! She didn’t get bored at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite. She found all these new things to be interested in – podcasts she wanted to listen to, books she wanted to read, and thoughts she wanted to write. She started spending weekend days at coffee shops writing or reading while her counterpart scoffed and rolled her eyes, telling her how lame it all was.
It was a hard-fought battle between the two of them for quite some time until slowly but surely the desires of my inner extrovert completely faded into the background. She’s still there. She’ll rear her head from time-to-time, begging me to “just go out and have fun.” And every now and then I indulge her.
But it’s been a surprising – and surprisingly unsettling – process to let her go and embrace my inner introvert. I loved her, even though I no longer wanted to be her. It’s not that there was anything wrong with her. I was simply ready for a change. A new phase. It was time to let my inner introvert have a chance at running the show. See what kind of happiness she could conjure up.
And so far, she’s been very good to me. I can’t say everyone in my life understands the change, but the only thing that matters is that I understand. And I know it’s right for me.
So for all the extroverts out there, know that you can change if you want to. You can let that quieter part of you surface. If she’s raising her hand, asking for a turn, you can give it to her if you want to. It doesn’t have to be a permanent change. I would have never expected to put my inner extrovert behind me, but I did. And maybe I’ll bring her back to the front again, who knows. Only time will tell.
I think the bigger point is that you have a choice. You have a choice to do what feels right to you. You don’t have to be something simply because you’ve always been it. You can change. We can all change… as many times as we want. We can reinvent ourselves every decade, every year, or even every week.
We are constantly identifying with one way of being or the other. It is always either/or. We are an extrovert or an introvert, a Democrat or Republican, this religion or that religion, a carnivore or a vegetarian, and on and on. But the problem with that is then we are constantly identifying with a way of being, a defined personality, a set of beliefs, or certain characteristics… rather than simply who we are. And who we are can be a unique combination of a bunch of either/or’s. And it can constantly change throughout our life. We are not stagnant. We are fluid. We don’t have to be either/or. We can be both/and.
So find your own way of being, try it out, then change it if you want to. Carve out your own path. Let go of all the definitions you cling to and decide there is no set definition of you.
You are whatever you create.