In our hyper-social culture, which tends to favor outgoing personalities (not to mention nonstop connectivity and networking), there’s an unfortunate stigma that surrounds introverts; it’s generally perceived as less advantageous to be one. But as it turns out, the extrovert (myself included) faces an entirely different set of social struggles and judgments:
1. You’re apparently not allowed to be sad.
“What’s wrong with Susie/Clare/Marianne?” people ask if ever we’re not our talkative selves for any reason. The truth is, extroverts need a little down time too. I purposefully choose the end of a table at a dinner party on nights when I feel less chatty or a bit tired. That’s OK! It does not mean we’re unhappy or upset.
2. You’re expected to be the entertainment, everywhere, every time.
It’s an incredibly helpful skill to have a knack for talking, laughing, and engaging with others, especially strangers. So, naturally, extroverts receive a lot of social invitations. But oftentimes extroverts are expected to bring the party wherever they go. We like to do that a lot—just not 100 percent of the time.
3. You’re perceived as superficial and/or insincere.
Vivaciousness has become a synonym for shallow. Extroverts are just as capable of intellectual discussion and complex thinking as introverts are of talking to people. Two extroverted friends of mine are some of the brightest people I know, but sadly, not everyone perceives them that way. In fact, they feel they have to prove themselves or highlight their education or career accolades to dispel negative presumptions. But it’s so important for everyone not make these assumptions. Communication styles are all unique!
4. You’re expected to carry the conversation.
Just because you are gifted at something doesn’t mean you have to put that talent on display constantly. Introverts are not always expected to just listen to everyone, all the time. Women, in particular, have expressed to me in coaching sessions the pressure they feel to be social lubricants at work and with family. It’s no one’s job to keep an environment light and chatty. Plus, you’d be surprised how often discussions can stay on track without you directing them. So give your vocal chords a break!
5. You worry you’re a little intense.
A common fear that extroverts have is that they are “too much” for some people. That might be true. But not all people are your people. That’s true (and fine!) too. Extroverts don’t conceal their passion, and it shows. Some perceive this trait as a flaw, as it can appear a little forceful. But we can’t help it.
6. Your friendliness gets mistaken for flirting.
Just because someone smiles, engages, and talks with zest does not mean they’re romantically interested in their conversational partner. My friend Sarah once said to me, “Just because I’m friendly doesn’t mean a man can make a pass at me! Nor should I have to tone down my personality, right?” It feels like a bit of a tricky balance. All that’s important is that you feel comfortable. And remember: You don’t owe anyone a thing!
7. You’re high-maintenance.
Extroverts love to share a crisis, a win, and everything in-between (with a lot of people). That means we actually need you to pick up your phone! And no, it cannot wait. Sorry. But does being high-maintenance have to be a bad thing? What if it were re-framed as making your needs a priority? That’s a very healthy thing to do.
Making the world a colorful and balanced place requires both extroverts and introverts. No one personality type “has it all” or should be celebrated over another. In the end, we all just want to feel heard, seen, and accepted. We may express this in diverse ways and require different forms of support, but at our core, we’re more alike than not. And that simple truth is worth celebrating.