It’s been a slow couple of weeks. When I’ve looked at my work calendar, it’s been big open stretches with nothing on the calendar. There’s goodness in this, for sure. I can always get ahead and give thought to future talks, retreats, do some reading/studying, writing, etc. But, at the same time, wired for extroversion like I am, being alone in a quiet office stirs up all kinds of crazy.
I get the suspicion that when people think of extroverts, they think of one continuous, ongoing party. But here are 6 things you should understand about extroverts:
- We don’t like hanging out with people, we need to hang out with other people. I regularly remind people in the course of pre-marital counseling that extro/introversion isn’t just about who’s the life of the party. There are quiet extroverts and introverts who perform in front of thousands. Rather, extro/introversion are about the ways we get filled up, where we get our energy when life has beat it out of us. Introverts, at the end of a long week interacting with peers, clients, & customers need to be alone. Extroverts need people.
- But just being with people doesn’t do the trick. It’s not as simple as hanging out at the local bar or coffee shop and chatting up strangers. Yes, I’m perfectly capable of doing so, but it’s only a quick fix. Strangers fit the bill when I’m desperate for interaction, but it’s not lasting or deeply fulfilling. What I need is meaningful, mutual, life-giving interactions. For me, this includes cooking with friends, having soul-bearing conversations, laughing, not being “pastor,” going to concerts, etc. with the people closest to me.
- This means extroverts often feel needy. Just like introverts sometimes feel like they can’t make enough space for time alone, extroverts feel like they can’t get enough interaction. And here’s where I’m envious of introverts: introverts can get what they need whenever they want – it doesn’t depend on anyone else. I wish that were so. For me to fill up, I need other people. I hate needing other people.
- Which means, even though I’m extroverted, I often feel lonely. Objectively speaking, I’m not alone. I have plenty of friends, plenty of people in my life who love me and want to hang out with me. I know this to be true. But it’s easy for me to feel lonely when life gets busy and I don’t get the interactions I need.
- Even extroverts have their limits. There are times and spaces where I do need a break from people. For example, early on Sunday afternoons all I want is my sweatpants, crossword puzzle and a blanket. No more conversations. But, I bounce back quickly. By Sunday evening, I’m usually good-to-go.
- Extroverts aren’t always the life of the party. There are times, where I don’t feel like talking, where I don’t feel like being the gregarious, center of the laughter. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not soaking up the energy of being with people. Truth is, when I’m in those places, I’m probably most needy. I have this mental picture of a time last fall, where I was in one of my people-deficits and we had cooking club, and I was just kind of keeping to myself, working on my food, not saying much. But, hanging in the kitchen with the guys, listening to good music, working on the food, I could feel myself perking up.
Anything else some of you extroverts would add to the list?