Introvert & Extrovert: The Truth
Most of us believe an introvert doesn’t like socializing while an extrovert does. We also think our personality is inherently either or — either introverted or extroverted.
This is wrong.
An introvert loses energy in social situations or gains energy from being alone. Extroverts are typically higher energy and prefer to release it through socializing. Also, if feeling lower energy, an extrovert will replenish it through socializing.
At birth, we’re naturally half introvert, half extrovert. Some of us may sway towards one side or the other — 60% introvert, 40% extrovert, for example. This balance or neutrality is optimal and healthy.
We come into the world as blank slates — not identifying as either — introverted or extroverted. We enjoy socializing and our solitude equally, and we use our intuition to determine our social needs and participation.
Where most of us go wrong is the labeling and assumptions of behavior, and don’t realize how this negatively affects us.
Introvert and shy are two very different manners. If we continuously avoid or feel uncomfortable in social situations, we assume introvert, but, actually, we’re shy.
An introvert doesn’t necessarily feel uncomfortable in social situations; they just prefer to be alone.
Likewise, if we always need to be surrounded by people, we assume extrovert, but we actually fear to be alone.
A healthy extrovert will prefer to expend or gain energy from socializing but will use their intuition to know when they — similarly to introverts — need to be alone.
Introverts and shy people prefer to be alone, but the difference lies in their intention. An introvert wants to isolate from a place of power; a shy person wants to isolate from a place of fear.
We may be able to survive without socializing and social skills, but we can’t thrive.
The ability to introduce yourself to an attractive person, network with high-value people, and crush a job interview is mandatory to take advantage of everything this life has to offer.
From Shy to Charismatic: My Story
I used to be very shy — painstakingly shy.
I didn’t kiss a girl in high school. And I didn’t lose my virginity until I was twenty.
Yes. You read that right. I didn’t kiss a girl in high school.
I’m six-feet tall, full head of dark hair, straight smile, white teeth, and athletically built. Most guys would kill to look like me. And yet, nothing to show for it. Band geeks and science nerds were getting more action than me.
Why? How does that happen?
In high school, I avoided all social interaction. I didn’t go to a single party or football game. On the weekends, I would only play basketball and video games. I didn’t go to homecoming until senior year. I only went to prom because my best friend pushed me into the girl I liked, forcing me to ask her to be my date.
In the fall of 2010, I moved away for college and didn’t have the social skills to meet new people, so I became lonely, depressed, and angry.
My circumstances inspired me to read self-help books and watch YouTube videos. It saved my life. I began to implement everything I read and viewed.”
I would go to the mall by myself and introduce myself to strangers. I would walk around campus between classes and talk to everyone.
I got a job at Starbucks, and for two years straight, I talked to every customer. Every. Single. Customer. No matter how I was feeling, how annoyed and in-a-hurry they seemed, I pushed every interaction to the brink.
In the fall of 2016, I landed an internship as a trainer for athletes — my dream job at the time. As I was leaving the bank, I saw a guy I knew from high school who just opened a gym for athletes. I ran out of my car and started talking to him. Weeks later, I was working beside him.
After ten years of trial and error, I still feel some anxiety socially, but it doesn’t hinder me like it used to. I can introduce myself to anyone, and I attract high-value people. I get jobs offered to me, and I’m seen as charismatic, and ironically, extroverted.
To cure shyness and achieve personal and professional success, we need to let go of labels and become internally validated.
Goodbye Introvert, Goodbye Extrovert
Eliminate the idea, theory, or whatever you want to call it, of introvert and extrovert. Go ahead. Throw it away. I’ll give you a couple of seconds.
Now there’s nothing wrong with the word introvert in-of-itself. It’s just a bunch of letters that make a word. The problem is the assumptions, associations, and feelings attached to the word and how that affects us.
What comes to mind when you think “introvert”?
Fear? Anxiety? Shy? Timidity? Uptight? Quiet? A person being alone (“loner”)? Someone who doesn’t like socializing? Being thought of as inferior to an extrovert?
If you identify as an “introvert,” you’re unknowingly taking on the characteristics and feelings associated with the label. These associations and emotions make us fear socializing and give us an excuse to withdraw.
“I’m shy because I’m an introvert, and introverts don’t like to socialize. We like to read books and think deeply about space.”
We can’t eliminate the word, but we can let go of the associations and personal identification. When we let go of the associations — which aren’t true (I gave the actual definition of introvert earlier) — the fear, anxiety, and shyness evaporate simultaneously.
With time and practice, we’ll begin to view socializing more positively (for without the negative, there is only positive or neutrality) and liberate our natural charisma.
Negative emotions (fear, anxiety) is like the cap on a ready-to-explode two-liter soda bottle. Take off the lid, and your charisma will flow naturally.
Or explode everywhere. Bad if it’s soda; good if it’s charisma.
Interval vs External Validation
When our approval and acceptance of self is dependent on something outside of ourselves, we’re externally validated. Money, success, followers, opinions of others are forms of external validation.
“I’m cool because I’m rich, have a million followers, and people like me.”
When our approval and acceptance of self is dependent on our view of self, we’re internally validated.
“I’m cool because…why not? There’s no reason I’m not enough. I’m funny. I work hard. I’m a good person. I make mistakes, but I try and do the right thing.”
When we prioritize external validation socially, we place the opinions of others on a pedestal. We’ll become timid, quiet, stiff, stifled, and shy to avoid standing out because we fear rejection.
We want to avoid rejection because we interpret the rejection as something personally defective about us. Now, the self-inflicted fear and pressure surrounding socializing cause us to abstain from participation altogether.
When we let go or value the opinions of others less, we become internally validated naturally.
“I’m cool because…why not? There’s no reason I’m not enough,” is the internal dialogue of someone who has released the fear, anxiety, and pressure of external validation.
We need to practice self-compassion to help us become internally validated and deal with our emotions in the moment, so they don’t hinder us.
Internal validation has to be unconditional. We have to accept everything about us whether we like it or not.
Self-compassion helps us accept the aspects of ourselves that are hard to accept, like thoughts and feelings about self.
Self-compassion is the act of being kind to yourself to alleviate suffering. It’s treating yourself the same way you would treat your dog or a baby.
If your dog is hurt or a baby crying, you’d comfort and nurture them (I hope).
So, when you’re feeling anxious in a social environment, talk to yourself with compassion to help alleviate your anxiety.
“It’s OK. Calm down. Relax. Everything’s going to be OK,” are things I tell myself when I feel anxious, sad, depressed, or any other negative feeling.
What you say doesn’t matter, the general intention does. The things I tell myself occur organically when I use the theory of self-compassion as a practice.
To practice self-compassion, we have to become more mindful of how we’re feeling.
When we’re not being critical and are kinder to ourselves by acknowledging our positive characteristics, we’ll feel more confident, which will improve our social success.
This life has a lot of beautiful things to offer. They’re ours for the taking.
Your next boyfriend or girlfriend is an introduction away.
That random stranger you strike up a conversation with at the grocery store could be a CEO, founder, or influencer.
Let go of the things (labels, external validation) that aren’t helping you. Be nice to yourself. Take action.
Dream Chasers is my email list for those who imagine a future different than their present.