248. The Problems of an Extrovert

Today’s post was written by Amy Green as a response to my introverted ramblings. For more great stuff from Amy, check out her previous guest post for TMTF and her blog The Monday Heretic, which covers such all-important subjects as God and bacon.

Hi, my name is Amy and I’m delighted to meet you and we probably have a lot in common that we should talk about for hours and hours.

Also, I’m an extrovert.

Like many extroverts, I need to be around people… but I don’t really know them.

Does that last part sound familiar? Maybe… exactly like what Adam said last week about introverts? That’s because it is. (I’m beginning to wonder if selfishness is the universal personality type.)

Of course, how this problem manifests itself is very different. Extroverts often struggle with having lots of somewhat shallow relationships. They wave to everyone they pass on campus, work the room at a company party, and seem to know everyone’s name at church.

That’s not a bad thing. There are many great things about being an extrovert. Extroverts often process verbally, meaning they think as they talk, so they seem to come to conclusions more quickly. They’re also often good leaders. And please, please do not tell me that extroverts aren’t capable of deep thought just because don’t give off the pensive philosopher air.

To be honest, society tends to gush over extroverts. Labels like “enthusiastic,” “assertive,” “generous,” and “sociable”—often applied to extroverts—seem much more positive than “thoughtful,” “introspective,” and “rational.”

However, sometimes that adjective-laden personality I haul into social situations is just a (slightly overwhelming) smokescreen. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a monologue, I cringe because I know I’m talking over people, running them down like a conversational steamroller.

But I can’t stop because anything, anything would be better than silence.

In the silence, I have to face my doubts and inadequacies and fears about the future. The only person I have to talk to is myself, and sometimes I don’t really like myself.

But invite all of my friends over, and it’s okay. Because they all like me—see how much fun they’re having? So I must be likeable. I must be worth something.

But under every excited conversation, every party, every picture I post on Facebook of me with a dozen friends is the gnawing fear, “Please don’t abandon me to silence. Please don’t find out who I really am. Please don’t leave me.”

How can I love my neighbor as myself if I don’t love myself? And how can I love my neighbor when I’m constantly thinking about myself and how I’m being perceived?

This past year, I’ve learned to appreciate silence and have come to the conclusion that it’s not an enemy to attack with a barrage of words and jokes and laughter. It’s a way of choosing to believe I am worthy, even when I don’t feel like it, even without a constant stream of outside affirmation and approval.

I’m not saying that all extroverts struggle with putting up a façade for the rest of the world. But I have heard from many who admit it’s a significant problem.

Extroverts don’t have much trouble talking to people or meeting people or spending time with people—it gives us energy. But I think we have just as much trouble as introverts with loving people. That’s why God had to tell us over and over again to love each other. Because it’s hard and takes effort and none of us are good at it… but it’s important.

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