“We wanted to tell you to come, but you were so quiet last time we thought maybe you didn’t enjoy yourself.”
For a month at kindergarten, I wouldn’t let go of my mother. When I finally did, it took me a long time to make friends. That’s how it started: the way I was raised.
The way I was raised shaped me into the extroverted introvert I am today. In school, I had a hard time making friends because I didn’t know whether or not I “fit in.” I didn’t know what I should talk about and when to jump into a conversation. My shy nature didn’t help either. Sometimes I felt my input would be useless, so why say it. Other times I was afraid I’d be taken for a fool or laughed at, so why speak.
This mentality haunted me throughout my school years. I stuck to a small circle of friends. I would hang out with everyone else, but only knowing my close circle was around so that I can feel comfortable. Even with them, even with my family, there was always a part of me that was just never comfortable coming out of its bubble. At my first year in university, I followed by comfort zone, I was too afraid to leave it even to pursue a degree I wanted somewhere else. Eventually, I found myself making a switch to something I did want within that same campus. That’s when I became more comfortable.
University life taught me a lot, but it did not entirely teach me how to leave my bubble. I always had one foot in and one out. I also had a hard time making friends at first, but I was all alone so I kept pushing myself. “Talk to her, sit next to him…”
The first time I was invited to a social event, I talked to every acquaintance and classmate I knew was going, I needed a comfort zone. I needed to know I wouldn’t be alone. Someone caught my eye, I wanted to be her friend but I was afraid. I stuck to the people I knew, I got to know them better. With time, I started attending more outings: birthdays, farewells, etc. With time, I was starting to lift that foot that was in the bubble up but not let it out yet.
During my second year, I had been a ghost at the university newspaper. The summer before my last year, the editor-in-chief talked to me “you’re her”. And then, I was no longer a ghost in the newspaper. Presenting my section, although scary, became something I looked forward to. And still, I sat in the corners.
During my last year, I allowed myself to meet the person I was so afraid to meet and when that happened, I made additional friends. I tried new things. I opened up and I let go, but one foot was still in the bubble. At gatherings and events, they would all be talking and I would be listening. I would try to think so hard of when would be the optimal time to jump in, to say something, but then I would think “what if it’s irrelevant; what if it’s dumb”, the high-school me was still in there.
And that’s what it means to be an extroverted introvert:
You like to be asked out to events and gatherings and dates but sometimes, most times, you’re too shy or too afraid to ask others.
You like to hang out with people, but sometimes, most times, big crowds scare you; they annoy you and make you feel alone.
You like to have a small, close group of people to talk to, but sometimes, most times, you’d prefer just one or two over the rest and your attachment to them scares you.
You like to spend time alone, but sometimes, most times, despite how much you need this alone time to recharge, you’re also scared of it.
You like to be heard, to share, but sometimes, most times, you don’t want to sound like a fool, you don’t know when to cut in or you feel like maybe you shouldn’t, even when you know you can.
You like to meet new people, but sometimes, most times, you’re too shy, too afraid or too uncomfortable.
You like to believe you’re this and that, but sometimes, most times, you know you’re not.
This is what it means to be an extroverted introvert. Someone who enjoys people, but enjoys alone time simply because it’s easier.
Next time someone is like that around you, make the effort. Maybe they’re not comfortable doing it. You won’t regret it.
Welcome to 5% of my mind.