After spending time with a group of people, do you feel energized and ready for anything or do you want to hide in the corner with a good book?
I spent the whole of my high school years masking my unbearable loneliness by drinking far too much and getting into trouble at parties by trying to be an extroverted fun loving party girl . Somehow I managed to remain an honour student throughout high school, serious about my studies while never passing up an opportunity to party. I understand now that I was looking for connection at a deeper level, desperately searching for someone who might “get” me, but going about that search in the completely wrong way.
It took me a LONG time to realize that I don’t HAVE to be an extrovert, though I’ve been told (by family members nonetheless) that my withdrawals from certain relationships and interactions are controlling. Luckily for me, I know that withdrawing is what I NEED to remain healthy and happy, and as such I can’t take their perception personally. They are simply their perceptions.
I now know how to put on the extroverted mask when I need to (admittedly sometimes it’s still very awkward). Being an extrovert is a set of skills that I picked up over many many years… Something that never came naturally to me, something that was seemingly easier when I could bolster myself with liquid courage. Thankfully, I realized that using alcohol in this way is really unhealthy and not the example I want to set for my own daughters.
What I’ve learned as an adult is that I don’t love parties or large gatherings in any of their forms, although I tried for a long time to really love them. I tolerate them when I must, heck I even host them sometimes (at least I have a bit more control this way), but I much prefer to have one on one conversation with a friend (or someone new), really digging into the topic at hand instead of having polite surface interactions. Or I would rather stay at home doing a number of things that require only myself and my thoughts.
Even just this past Christmas, I felt overwhelmed and anxious at a family gathering and was so relieved when we finally left and went back to our home, just the 4 of us. Parties and large gatherings DRAIN me. And while I’ve been known to host some shindigs that have been pretty big, I always let out a huge sigh of relief once the last guest has gone. To be my best self, I require a large dose of solitude, particularly after I’ve exhausted myself by being in a setting that is very social.