Everyone has a friend like me. The girl who is perpetually unreachable by phone, but will reply to a text in rapid response. We hang out, and we are good mates, but it’s usually one on one. I constantly make plans with people and then bail, but it’s not because I don’t want to hang out with you. I absolutely had every intention of attending that party with you, it’s just that I am an extroverted introvert. Or introverted extrovert. Either way, my extroverted side definitely wants to get down and party, but my introverted side had a complete anxiety attack right before I was supposed to leave the house and now I just want to stay in and watch Netflix alone.
We are this baffling conundrum of a person that refuses to be stuck into one personality box set by psychologists, and we are hard people to be friends with because we are constantly cancelling plans. Here are some things I wish I could tell my friends…
IT’S NOT THAT I’M FLAKY, IT’S THAT I’M ANXIOUS
You know last week when we made plans to go to your friend’s party? I really did mean it. I wanted to come. I wanted to get down and throw some shapes. I wanted to hang out, and have a few drinks and talk shit for hours. I had every intention of coming. But typically, on the night of the event – doom. DOOOOOOOMMMMM. Anxiety to the nth degree, because right then a room full of strangers was my worst nightmare. I actually could not bear to leave the house, and Netflix was calling my name. If I did go, please realise the effort it took for me to get there. A stern lecture before my shower, and then another during the getting dressed process. And another right before I walked out the door. Leaving the house might seem easy for you, and most days I manage it just fine, but sometimes my inner battle rages and my introverted side will win.
I AM NOT INGORING YOU, I PROMISE
I promise I’m not screening my calls, or ignoring your texts. Sometimes the thought of answering the phone and being bombarded with an unexpected invite to go somewhere when I don’t have a ready excuse is enough to fill me with social dread. It’s easier to just turn a blind eye to the phone until I am equipped to handle it.
SPEAKING OF EXCUSES…
I’ve never lied to you about why we can’t hang out – but I may have stretched the truth. In my world “I don’t have any clean clothes” is a legit reason for not leaving the house. So is “My head hurts” or “I’m tired” or even “My head hurts.” Sometimes I just can’t push past my introversion and actually make the effort to step out into the world. Go easy on me, and remember that leaving the house is sometimes harder for me than it seems.
KEEP TRYING – WHEN YOU DO MANAGE TO GET ME OUT, I’LL HAVE A GREAT NIGHT
My extroverted side loves going out, but my introverted side usually shuts it down before we get a chance to have fun. If I am able to win the battle against myself then I am pretty much guaranteed a great time, but getting me to the party is the struggle. Perservere. Push me. But above all – love me and understand that I’m not saying no, I’m saying no for tonight.
THE BEST WAY TO GET ME OUT IS TO START SLOW
If we just met, then you won’t realise this. My avoidance of social situations doesn’t make me happy – and most of the time it’s just really fucking lonely. My long time mates understand that there is hope though, and like you they had to start small and head off my excuses before I could think of them. Living inside my head can be a bit much at times, but all my time alone means I’ve had plenty of time to ponder my personality and I’ve got my issues well under control. To you, leaving the house might seem easy but for me this isn’t always the case.
Just start small. Take me on a few dates. Just coffee, and just us. Some place that is comfy and gives me a sense of ease. Or let me pick the place, so I can control how comfortable I am. Once we’ve been friends for a while you can pick more places, but initially make it easy for me to say yes. Head off my excuses before I have a chance to think of them. Common ones include money and time. If I’ve already been out that week, then I’ll claim tiredness. Alternatively, feel free to invite yourself over for wine and Netflix.
TRAVEL AND MY INTROVERSION
I find I struggle the most when I travel. I’ve been traveling on and off for nearly 15 years, and I have friends scattered far and wide. England in particular is a struggle since I usually have limited time to catch up with lots of different people. For pure extroverts, this probably sounds like heaven but for me it just creates stress and anxiety. There are several reasons I prefer to travel alone, and this is the biggest one.
Overseas friends (particularly my London girls!) should not think I don’t love seeing them. I do. I just find it all a bit much sometimes, and yes – I’ve been known to fake my excitement levels to match yours.
BEING AN INTROVERT IN AN EXTROVERTED WORK ENVIRONMENT
I work in sales. It’s a highly stressful, numbers driven, very extroverted position that I excel in. But I’ve had to learn to manage my introverted side and still be able to deal with my clients. Over the ten years I’ve been doing this job I definitely still have days when I would rather stay in bed. I feel like I live my life on a rollercoaster: bracing myself for the drop and when it comes it’s thrilling but then I need space and time out to recuperate. It takes an enourmous amount of energy to be “on” all the time, for 9hrs a day and obviosuly I’d rather stay home most days. Usually around 2pm I have had enough and desperately want everyone to go home so that I can also go home.
Owning my introverted extroversion isn’t always about eliminating the introverted part of my personality. It’s about finding a balance, and finding that can be exhausting. But when I do need to be “on”, provided I have adequate advance notice then I will be “on” with full throttle effort.
Be patient with me. I promise I’ll make it worth it.