I love spending time with my friends, but I’m often the first to go home.
I’m fulfilled by my work as a personal coach, but after a coaching session with someone, I feel exhausted.
Sometimes I’m really lonely and claustrophobic working from home, but when I go out, I’m quickly ready to go back home.
Although I test as an introvert on the Myers Briggs personality test, most people would say I’m outgoing, sociable, and gregarious.
I’m definitely not shy or withdrawn, and I don’t have a problem meeting new people or chatting up strangers. In fact, I like doing that.
But . . . when I’m done, I’m done.
My bandwidth is limited when it comes to absorbing or offering a lot of social energy, and I’m never quite sure when the bandwidth will expire.
Maybe you can relate to this. If you find yourself conflicted about whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you might just be an “extroverted introvert” — sometimes referred to as a social introvert.
No, I didn’t just make that up. There is such a personality dynamic, and it can be quite confusing to you and the people who know you well.
For example, maybe your best friend invites you to a party, and you both look forward to it for weeks. You go out together and buy new outfits to wear to the event, you talk about it daily, and finally the big day arrives.
You’re all dressed up, you go to the party, talk to a few people, and have a drink or two. You’re having a good time, and then, BOOM, you want to go home. You’re done.
Your friend is still going strong and has no idea why you want to leave so early. Are you sick? Did someone say something rude? Did you spill something on your dress?
Nope, you just want to go home.
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be alone all of the time. Like extroverts, you may crave the company of others, even in large groups.
But as an introvert, you need to pull away sooner to recharge. Or maybe it takes you longer to recover after spending time with other people. Do you think this describes you?
Here are 10 clues you may be an extroverted introvert:
1. You enjoy other people, even larger groups.
Some introverts really prefer time alone or just with a couple of close friends. But you like social gatherings, meeting new people, and even some amount of small talk.
You can even be the life of the party or the center of attention for a short amount of time.
But unlike most extroverts, you can only take so much. You suddenly feel depleted and eager to be alone again to recharge. It’s not that you’re having a bad time. You’ve just run out of your social gas and you’re running on fumes.
2. You need time between social events.
Many extroverts can socialize all week long and feel energized by the activity. If the weekend is packed with parties and group outings, they feel excited and energized.
A social introvert may like the idea of a party lifestyle, but the reality of it would send them into a tailspin.
As an introvert, you need time between events to hunker down and recover. I can handle one or two group events a month without feeling completely drained.
Some extroverted introverts may push themselves to keep up with their extroverted friends, but it can take a toll in the form of exhaustion, irritability, and anxiety.
3. You change your mind at the last minute.
You may have planned on attending a party or event for weeks, but then on the day of the gathering, you suddenly feel the overwhelming desire to stay home and curl up in front of the TV or with your book.
Just thinking about dressing up and going out feels tortuous, even though the day before you were looking forward to it.
For introverts, it’s hard to explain the sudden turn-around to your friends. You just know that you don’t have it in you to be around a lot of people and stimulation.
4. You make connections but they may not last.
When you’re socializing, you meet people you like and have great intentions of staying in touch. But once you’re back in the cocoon of your daily life, you don’t make the effort to reconnect.
You’re not being rude or snobby. You just know how much effort it takes to build the kind of deep connections you prefer. You don’t like superficial relationships, so you tend to reach out to your established friends rather than starting from scratch.
The exception to this is when you happen to connect with someone on a deep level right away. You might strike up a conversation with someone who bypasses small talk and wants to really engage. This kind of conversation energizes you and makes it worth your effort to build on the connection.
5. You find a quiet space in the midst of a party.
In group events, you find yourself pulling away with one or two people for quiet conversation rather than “working the room.”
Or if you can’t find one person to converse with for long, you’ll make yourself useful in some out-of-the-way corner, helping the host with the dishes, checking out the books on the bookshelf, or just listening to others in the group.
You may reengage and withdraw a few times at an event before you hit the wall and need to leave.
6. Some social settings are better than others.
You might love going to a group cocktail party in someone’s home, but spending time in a crowded, noisy bar with dozens of people makes you crazy.
The energy in some groups of people lifts you up, while others can completely exhaust and deplete you.
For you, there are some group events that are just intolerable, and you avoid them like the plague.
It might take you a few negative experiences to figure out the social settings you enjoy and those you don’t. But you know
7. You find yourself asking lots of questions to avoid talking.
People see you as a great conversationalist because you ask a lot of questions and seem genuinely curious about others.
You may truly be interested in other people, but you also know that by asking questions, you’re inviting the other person to talk. This means you don’t have to talk as much. You can listen, observe, and conserve your energy.
Also, by asking questions, you can discern whether or not a person has the potential for a deep connection by the way they respond to your questions.
8. You find group settings where you can be alone.
There are times you may want to be around people, but you don’t want to socialize. You just need the energy of having others around you, but you don’t need to talk or interact.
You enjoy going to coffee shops, parks, or other places where people are around but you can remain anonymous and secluded.
This makes you feel less lonely and isolated without having to work yourself up for a big social occasion.
9. You’re in your head even when out with others.
Part of the exhaustion of socializing comes with trying to be two places at the same time — engaged with others and in your own head.
As an introvert, you spend most of your time in your head, analyzing situations, thinking about what to say, and “trying” to appear social.
It’s a balancing act that requires a lot of emotional energy. It sometimes makes you feel like an outsider at an event, observing other people rather than being part of the action.
10. Other people think you’re an extrovert.
People who don’t know you well might confuse you for an extrovert. You have the social skills to handle yourself well, and you’ll work hard at an event to make other people feel included and comfortable.
You might have leadership skills or speaking skills that make you seem completely confident and comfortable in social situations.
But those closest to you know that once you’re behind closed doors, you might pass out from overwhelm. In fact, extroverted introverts are smart to have a close friend or confidant nearby to help them recognize when it’s time to leave the party.
It’s helpful to remember that being introverted or extroverted doesn’t mean you’re completely one or the other. These personality traits exist on a continuum.
We all have some of each trait, but as a social introvert, you may have more extroverted needs than your average introvert.
Don’t be confused or upset by your shifting social needs. Just go with the flow and accept that your feelings may change from one day to the next, or even one hour to the next. Be kind to yourself and know that you’re not weird or anti-social when you suddenly feel the need to race home.
As an introvert, there may be times you need to stretch yourself in social settings for the sake of politeness or for your career. You may be required to push past your comfort zone and play the part of the outgoing extrovert.
But by understanding your natural traits and your need to recharge, you can generally prepare yourself in advance and manage these situations so you have an “escape plan” when you hit the wall.