What it feels like being an extroverted introvert

Is there such a thing? An extroverted introvert.

This question came to me one day as I was pondering why I know quite a few people, but are only truly close to a handful.

Perhaps let me put things in context. According to the MBTI profiling I took, I’m an ENTJ. This means I’m extroverted (like to meet people), intuitive (like to dream), thinking (decisions are mostly based on logic, not emotions) and judgmental (I’m a serial organiser).

The extroverted part of me enjoys socialising, meeting new people, poking around their brains for their perspectives and knowledge, and being able to easily carry a conversation with almost anyone who can speak the same languages.

Yet why do I prefer to be left alone to listen to my ipod when travelling, retreating to my room at night for quiet time before sleeping, getting restless when conversations become too mundane or extend for too long and only having a handful of friends although I have more than a thousand friends on Facebook?

I googled this term ‘Extroverted Introvert’ and found that this term actually exists, to my surprise.

According to Lifehack, there are 20 things you should know about Extroverted Introverts. So I put myself to the test below to see if my weird personality and life fit most of these characteristics.

1. We’re often quiet, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk.

Yes. Sometimes I stay really quiet as I’ve nothing important to say, or I just don’t feel like telling you what I think.

2. And just because we like being around people doesn’t mean we want to talk.

Yes. I just like enjoying your company in silence.

3. We like hanging out one on one better than groups. We’ll listen to you forever.

Yes. In a big group setting, I’ll usually end up making private conversations one on one with people.

4. We suck at responding to texts because sometimes we don’t want to talk – to anyone

Yes. It’s a bad habit.

5. We’re open to meeting your other friends. Just let us know ahead of time that we’ll be meeting new people so we can mentally prepare ourselves to socialize.

Yes and no, I’m flexible.

6. Despite needing our alone time, we do get lonely.

Yes. I get lonely especially at night when I think of people having fun out there with each other and no one inviting me to join them. I’m really happy my family’s at home, but I feel increasingly left out of social groups.

7. It’s hard to get us out, but we’ll have a great time when we go out.

Yes. I don’t like wasting a day or night out. It has to be productively good.

8. We’ll happily chat up your parents/friends/girlfriend/boyfriend/boss/etc., but once it’s over, we require silence.

Yes. I’m happy to make them feel welcome, but after half an hour it’s time to move on.

9. We’re not always the most talkative person in a group, but if someone is in need of a social life jacket, we can step up and offer that.

Yes. I’m like a socialiser on call, anytime you need a host, I can do hosting, or just be a partner to attend an event with you.

10. We live in our heads even if it seems like we put ourselves out there.

Yes. There are many thoughts and emotions going through my head I doubt many can tell. It’s just that I don’t say these things out because I’m not sure if it’ll help. And sometimes I feel people aren’t interested in what I think.

11. Because we can be outgoing and calculated at the same time, sometimes we end up being leaders. But that does not mean we want praise, nor do we want to talk about how great we are.

Yes and no. I like praise when it’s due, but I don’t like being singled out for praise when it makes others feel jealous or give them the impression I’m a suck-up, which further alienates me from the group.

12. We bounce between wanting to be noticed for our hard work to panicking over the thought of somebody else paying more than 30 seconds of attention to us.

Yes. I like my work to be effective and noticed by people (which validates my inclusion in the team and my existence on earth). But too much attention makes me nervous, what if I can’t meet your expectations of success?

13. People think we’re flirtatious. We’re not.

This happens quite a bit.

14. We get mad at ourselves for wanting to stay in and letting our friends down.

Sometimes. I think I’m at a point now when only a couple of friends ask to hang out with me just for the fun of it and not because of work etc. I’ve probably killed my social life.

15. We’re at your happiest in places like coffee shops and cafés: surrounded by people, but still closed off and keeping to yourself.

Yes. It’s addictive. But I don’t have much time for this.

16. We have a constant inner struggle of controlling our introverted side.

See above.

17. We really don’t like small talk.

Depends. If the small talk is useful to learn more about the person, then yes. If it’s just mundane, I’ll just keep quiet or suddenly ask some really inappropriate deep questions (I’ve been told).

18. We don’t actually have a staple “group” of friends.

Yes. I had quite a few staple groups of friends from secondary and JC, but since uni, no more. I just have one of two friends from various groups here and there.

19. If we like you, we really like you. We’re extremely picky about who we spend our time and energy on. If we’ve hung out multiple times, take it as a compliment.

Yes. I have limited time and will only spend it with people I like.

20. We won’t plan a party, but if we do, it’s a really big deal for us.

Definitely. I’ll think a lot about what to buy, where to go, envision how it’ll turn out etc.

From going through the characteristics above, it looks like I pretty much fit the bill of Extroverted Introvert.

I don’t know if I should take solace in this and know I’m not an aberration of society, but that there are others like me, knowing many yet connecting with few. Having a busy life yet feeling lonely at the end of the day. Being involved yet feeling left out.

Someone told me today that as we get older, we have to put in more effort to maintain the relationships with our friends.

I think I have myself to blame too, for I’ve regressed into a state of quietness and didn’t really catch up with friends from my younger years. I’m also not a very good conversationalist for people who don’t like being asked deep or difficult questions, because if they don’t open up, I tend to get bored with them (just can’t help it, I can’t talk about weather for half an hour).

I wrote a lot when I was in secondary school, extroverted yet lonely, then stopped when my social life picked up in sec 3, wrote again when I faced relationship troubles, stopped when they were resolved and I was busy with work, and I’m now finding joy in writing again (is it going to be an introspective phase due to my increasing feelings of being lonely?)

But in the meantime, I’ll just put in more effort at getting to know people. Maybe I’ll find more Extroverted Introverts too.