I Am an Extrovert — But Only When I Feel Like It
Over time you observe, analyse and then choose to switch on the ‘extrovert mode’.
It may seem like talking to people is like a cakewalk for us extroverts. You may feel that getting that conversation going may not seem that difficult for us. You may also think that being an extrovert must be exhausting. Yes, you are right, it is. But there is another truth to being an extrovert. The fact is that we don’t want to be an extrovert all the time.
That’s why we have the ‘ambivert’. Oxford dictionary defines ambivert as –
A person who has a balance of extrovert and introvert features in their personality.
To think about it, most of us are ambiverts. No one is black or white. We all are shades of grey. But that’s what makes us interesting. (Probably why the novel made millions too).
As a child, I was a shy kid. When guests were at home, I would wait when my mother would tell me to go to my room and play. I was not too fond of any attention.
Until my brother wanted the company to play cricket and I had to be a part of his A-team. That helped coming out of my shell by screaming at my brother in front of everyone when he would yell at me when I dropped a catch.
In school, I was happy to be a last bencher. Until my teachers forced me to stand in front of a class of sixty girls and narrate how I spent my summer vacations, that too helped me realise that people aren’t paying attention to you in class. They pretend they do.
Over time though, life shows you the mirror. It made me realise that my voice will not be heard if I do not speak out loud. And so, I made myself confident enough to start conversations. Be the centre of people’s attention by hosting events and learning that people overlook your mistakes until you make them quite obvious.
This wasn’t easy. Let me tell you; I wanted to throw up before every event. I wished the event was cancelled every time I was told to host one during my college days. But then I said to myself how bad it could get and might as well create another memory.
As days passed and focusing on my career became my priority, my involvement in extracurriculars took a backseat. However, the thrill of standing in front of people and getting my voice heard would never fade. Whenever I got an opportunity, I voiced my opinions on sensitive topics until I realised that being an extrovert is exhausting.
Self-care, a term that is now used quite widely. The Oxford dictionary defines self-care as —
The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
I chose to do the same.
Its a Choice
This may or may not apply to all extroverts but just being there in front of everyone, much like everything else, is a choice. There are days when I crave solitude and no conversations as my mouth hurts, and for once, I would like just to listen.
If you’re someone who gets the attention, you will also empathize with the fact that you do not want to be the one who makes an effort to keep the conversation going. For once, you would like the other person to make an effort and ask you questions instead. In the quest to get your point across at a formal event for a legal organisation, your take on the subject flies out the window.
It’s in moments like these where once the event is over, you head home, stand under the shower and embrace silence. The only thoughts are those running through your head that tells you, ‘it’s over, you can be yourself and end the day’.
Being an extrovert, then I realised it is a choice, or rather a switch. A switch which you can choose to use when you feel like it. When you want to make others feel comfortable in their skin and just get the conversation going because others may not know how to start or don’t want to make a fool of themselves.
Just like writing. While I am writing this, I know countless people will read this. Here the only difference is, you don’t have eyes staring at you. But the heart pumping, palm-sweating anxiety when you hit publish is precisely how an extrovert feels or probably worse — all the while hoping that in both writing and a public platform, not make a fool of myself.
Observe, Analyse, Execute
For some, being an extrovert comes naturally. It’s ingrained and effortless. But for some like me, it takes time and a lot of analysis. Analysing the situation, the people and then thinking should I even enter the conversation. Trust me that saves a lot of time and energy. But then when the crowd is known, and they know how well you communicate and expect you to say something and if you don’t, that’s where everything goes down the drain.
You see, just because you’re an extrovert and have made the room fun and exciting; you are expected to make the same effort all the time. That’s when being an extrovert sucks big time. You feel like screaming at the top of your head and saying that you just want to be the observer rather than the contributor for once. You want others to take that leap of faith for themselves rather than you starting it. You want to be the silent one and let others feel what it takes to be out there with all senses on alert and not caring a damn if eventually, you do make a fool of yourself.
But that takes confidence. This confidence takes years to build and with it the attitude of ‘I don’t care what others think’. This attitude is a result of a series of mistakes and lessons. And after countless, ‘I probably shouldn’t have said that’ moments, after numerous, ‘I think that person will never talk to me again’ moments — you know when to switch on and switch off the ‘extrovert mode’.