The Introverted Extrovert

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Photo credit: The beautiful artwork of Fabio Napoleoni

For someone who has spent so many years in the world of entertainment, which naturally comes with large crowds of overly animated people, it’s amazing how much I still clam up when I’m thrown into social gatherings. Over the years when I’ve been asked, I have had no qualms about stating the fact that I strongly believe I am an introvert. How on earth could that be possible when I have no problems with public speaking or performing in front of thousands? If I could answer that I would bottle up the solution and make millions.

I can deliver a speech in front of an infinite number of strangers, but if you told me I had to mingle at a cocktail party with them I would break out in sweats and border on a nervous breakdown. Dancing in front of thousands of unknown theater goers is also not a problem for me, but if you said I have to sing just one note by myself in front of one person I would rather find a rock to crawl under to hide. I think I might just be a bi-polar introvert; if that is such a thing. Apparently, depending on the situation, I can be in full blown introverted mode or an extrovert to the fully confident extreme.

With the most recent estimation being that there are roughly 7.077 billion humans living on this fine planet, I find it hard to believe that I could be the only person out there who is like this. I’m sure someone reading this right now can identify with me on this. I look at my parents and wonder how they can be such extreme extroverts who created this obviously confused introvert. I’ve learned over the years how to make it through large gatherings with strangers without having an epic meltdown, but it still hasn’t gotten easier as I thought it eventually would.

A few years ago I noticed that my anxiety, during my day-to-day life, had increased and it was making the simplest of tasks almost impossible. I did discover that it was linked to the Savella I was taking for my Fibromyalgia and decided that I would opt for the daily pain over extreme anxiety attacks. However, during the time it took to figure out what was making my anxiety worse, I almost locked myself in a closet to make it through each day. My heart goes out to those who live each day like that.

My fiancé has been a blessing to hold my hand through it all. He tends to be good at filling the extrovert role in large social settings with strangers until I can calm my nerves and can begin enjoying the situation. The next time you’re preparing for a speech, and thinking about how you’ll have to picture your audience naked, I hope you think back to this post and wonder if that’s how I envision everyone at parties. On that note, there’s some food for thought for the day!

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2 Comments to "The Introverted Extrovert"

  1. April 22, 2013 - 1:49 PM | Permalink

    I’ve met a lot of performers who are introverts, so you’re definitely not alone! The dictionary defines an extrovert as one who is “concerned primarily with the physical and social environment” and one who is “concerned more with external reality than inner feelings.” I’ve always understood an extrovert to be someone who is recharged by spending time with people.

    Performing is certainly more of a physical environment and external reality, but when you interacted intimately with people (as you’ve done in many of your past performing roles), you were doing it under the cover of a different persona. Rather than having to rely on your own social capabilities, you were operating under a prescribed framework for how to present yourself and respond to others. I would say that might be easier for lots of people, many introverts included!

    I’m so sorry to hear that you were feeling so anxious, but I’m glad that you were able to identify the reason and find a way to alleviate it a little bit.

    I find the “fake it til you make it” method to be helpful in social situations (and many other uncomfortable situations), and just try to act like the person I want to be. It’s also helpful to have some good, tried-and-true tricks that you can use to make yourself feel more comfortable. Have some standard questions that you can ask people to get them to talk about themselves in some way that you find interesting, or bring up a subject that you enjoy talking about, or make up stories about the people and situations you see, etc., etc. Or just have a few drinks =)

What do you have to say about all of this?