For those of you who know what being an “extrovert” or “introvert” means, you probably already know where I’m going with this post. For those of you who don’t know, let me break it down for you. I speak in terms of energy; an extrovert is someone who gets their energy from others while an introvert is someone who gets their energy from themselves. So you can think of an extrovert as a social butterfly and an introvert as a loner, for lack of a better term.
Being an introvert has had its pros and cons for me throughout my entire life. There were times where I wish I’d been more extroverted growing up because maybe I’d have had more friends, or at least been able to make more when previous friendships didn’t work out. Maybe I’d been more involved in school activities or networked more in college. At the same time, I loved being an introvert because it kept me out of drama, for the most part. It kept me from being too dependent on others to make my life complete, so to speak. It allowed me time to grow and mature as an adult because my alone time is where I could focus heavily on me.
Eventually though, being an introvert barred me from progressing in my academic life, business life and social life. I felt like I wasn’t getting the most out of college academically because I was so used to staying quiet and to myself; not participating in discussions, rarely wanting to work in groups or being too nervous to give presentations. I joined clubs and organizations, but I never fully immersed myself in them and eventually I dropped everything altogether. Starting my business was also hard because I wasn’t sure how to network with people and I wasn’t exactly thrilled about doing so. Lastly, while my social life has always been good, it could’ve been better. I tend to stick with my 2 or 3 friends, but sometimes, that isn’t always enough and meeting new people is always nerve wrecking to me.
Recently, I learned that being an extrovert or introvert wasn’t mutually exclusive. The 2 can intermingle once you except the fact that maybe you need to straddle the fence in order to achieve the life you want. It took me some time to come out of my shell and I’m not 100% there yet, but I’m putting myself out there a lot more than I would’ve ever thought possible and it’s changed a lot in my life. I guess I can say that I’m an “extroverted introvert” now. What does that mean? Well, I still get my energy from being alone, but I enjoy being sociable when I need or want to.
Academically, I’ve become a better student now that I’m in graduate school versus who I was in undergrad. I participate more in class discussions, I answer and ask more questions and I actually reach out to professors when I’m struggling with a topic. I find group projects to be more enjoyable and I’m getting to know my classmates on a more personal level as well as allowing myself to be vulnerable with them. The change has made for a better understanding of the course material and for better grades this time around. Who would’ve thought I’d be carrying a 3.2 GPA at the moment?
Business-wise, I had to learn to put myself and my brand out there more in order to achieve the goals that I set for myself. I had to learn to network and reach out to others; the worst someone could say is “no”. Once I realized that, I also realized that I could do this; I could put my brand on the map, even if it wasn’t the brand for everyone. Now when it comes to my business, I’m not afraid to reach out to influencers for collaborations or to be more active in Facebook groups. I no longer hesitate to plug my business every where in hopes that a potential customer is out there some where. It’s made for success in my business and I’m constantly growing and learning as I go.
My social life is still a struggle to be honest. I haven’t mastered the art of creating new friendships and part of that is because of some healing that needs to be done. Another part of it is just being nervous about whether or not a friendship will work out. Will I have anything in common with this person? Will I get along with this person? Can I tolerate the flaws about them? Silly questions, I know, but it’s real for me and it’s something I have to continue to work on. I have 3 best friends from undergrad that have been a part of my life for years now, but most of us live in different states and even when we were living in the same state, our schedules were so different that it wouldn’t hurt to have other friends that I can hang out with outside of just my group.
Transitioning from an introvert to an extroverted introvert was much needed. Some times we need to break barriers to become a better version of ourselves. Comfort zones can be a blessing and a curse, the biggest benefit is knowing the difference between the two. In my case, my comfort zone was somewhat of a curse because it held me back from a lot in my life. Now that I’m on this new journey, I’m excited to see where it takes me.
What’s your personality type?
- Extroverted Introvert
- Introverted Extrovert