Extroverts
Original photo via Thomas R. Koll
Ever feel as if people mix up “being your best self” with “no need to ever try harder because that’s just who you are?”

Ugh.

Sometimes being your best self means acknowledging that you have areas to work on, and that can mean finding inspiration in others. I’m an introvert with a lot of extroverted friends, so it can be a struggle to see eye-to-eye sometimes, but I find that, in general, we challenge each other to be better people. Here’s a list of five things that I’ve learned from extroverts:

1. It’s OK To Just Like People 

As introverts we tend to spend quite a lot of time in our heads. This is a really great thing that fuels imagination, but it can swing the other way and bog us down in the muck of over thinking. When I over think my interactions with others, I get hyper concerned about whether I’m being “too nice” (how is that even a thing?!) or “giving the wrong impression.”

Extroverts are the opposite: They’re almost always equally enthusiastic in their interactions with others. I decided to take a leaf out of their book and attempt to focus on the fact that I was having a conversation with a person I liked rather than staying inside my head worrying whether this person was reading too much into it. Guess what? It was amazing. I’m not 100% sure that all my guy friends don’t think I have a crush on all of them now (oops!), but that’s not my problem. I like conversations! There doesn’t have to be a Huge Reason behind every human interaction.

2. First Impressions Are Rarely Permanent, But Friendships Last

It used to piss me off royally that an extroverted friend could offend me in the morning then forget about it by lunchtime. In my mind that translated as “not caring.” Eventually, however, I came to understand that that was simply the way my more gregarious friends’ brains functioned. They were pretty much programmed to be able to let things go a la Queen Elsa. While there are pros and cons to this attribute, a strong “pro” is the ability to let others’ opinions slide off your back.

As someone who thinks that everyone will hate me eternally if I make a bad impression, the “let it go” mentality is definitely one that I could afford to practice.

3. Just Say It

Like I mentioned before, introverts spend a lot of time in their own heads. While this is totally normal, it’s funny how we rarely think that anyone else would want to hear our thoughts. Since extroverts spend more time on external expression, I frequently feel like they have more to say, or that they’re just “more interesting” than I am. I shared this thought with an extroverted friend of mine, and his response surprised me: “Clare, I love hearing what you have to say. It doesn’t matter if it’s brilliant or silly, but your thoughts are fascinating. I wish you would share them more often.”

Oh!

So instead of just having a thought and assuming no one wanted to hear it, I occasionally voiced it. Lo and behold, the other day a former classmate told me that she admired the fact that I always knew what to say! Hmmm. Maybe balance is the key!

4. Silence Isn’t Golden – It’s Priceless

Extroverts are not known for their ability to contemplate and treasure solitude – but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be. A few months ago I had a surprising conversation with a social butterfly of a friend. She told me that she wished she could spend time in silence and enjoy it as much as I did.

Since the need for alone time comes as naturally as breathing for me, it was a good wake up call for me to realize that I need to be more aware of the blessings that I take for granted

5. Noise Does Not Equal Bravery

It’s easy to assume that someone knows what she’s talking about if she’s willing to say X, Y, and Z in front of a room full of people. But the fact of the matter is, my extrovert insiders reveal, they use talking to let off nervous steam just the way introverts clam up out of nervousness. Apparently, a lot of extroverts think that the serenity it takes to remain silent proves bravery! I was super relieved to find this out since our culture often presses us to feel as if pauses in a conversation only happen among the less civilized.

I used to be totally closed off to learning from others because I was afraid I would lose myself in the process, but as I learn I realize that that mentality stemmed from insecurity and fear of growth. Being your best self means doesn’t mean that you have to be completely separate from others. It means that, no matter what you do, no one else can bring your unique touch to it.
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