The Story of an Extroverted Introvert

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Growing up, I was always a shy kid – didn’t talk much, was too scared to approach people. I always felt like that person that everyone knew of, but never really knew… At least that’s the way I saw it. Because I always saw other people with their best friends and their really big friend groups, I wondered why I couldn’t have that? Why couldn’t I click with that many people? I struggled with being shy and being an introvert for all of my life up until my freshman year of college at UMBC. There, I felt like I could start fresh. I could make a new reputation. I could make a new face for myself. And that’s exactly what I did. I put myself out there and attended different club organizations, took the initiative in group projects, presented in front of people without shaking or feeling anxious. I met new people, and learned how to break out of my shell. I felt like I could rule the world. Then I made the decision of transferring to a new school – University of Maryland, College Park. Over time living at College Park, I drew back into myself. I became shy again. The thought of presenting a speech in front of fifteen people put me in a place of distress. I felt so out of place and I didn’t know why. I was extremely confused as to why I was like this. Just a few months before that, I was thriving, I was excited for life, unafraid of being ignored because I knew it wouldn’t faze me. But it changed just like that, and I felt vulnerable again – I became that person I thought I’d escaped for good and put in the past. I knew I liked social interaction, but too much of it exhausted me. I could talk for hours on end, I thought… but only with the right people. I refused to call myself shy, awkward, or an introvert. The thought of not being a people person was repulsing to me. I HAD to be a people person, just because I knew that a “people person” or an “extrovert” was just the kind of person that most people liked. And I wanted to be that (as terrible as it sounds). So for the longest time, I categorized myself as an extrovert. I would force myself to make conversation with people just because I wanted to prove to myself I was truly a “people person”. But as nature took its course, I became exhausted all too easily while trying to keep up with small talk. My cheeks would start to become unnaturally numb from smiling for too long. I would hate myself for not being able to go at it longer, for not being able to keep up with the masses. I knew I overcame my shyness and awkwardness, but why wasn’t I good at all this talking?

After constant, confusing analysis, only just recently however, did I finally give into accepting myself as the introvert I am. Just because I like communication, doesn’t make me an extrovert and I had to accept it. I find that after hanging out with my friends for a long time, I find myself to get way too tired. My body physically gives up on me as the hours pass and I am still talking. But I know there is no better type of person whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. And even though I need a lot of personal time to recharge, I can still have amazing conversations with people I can click with anyway. That’s the thing with being an introvert.. I don’t click with everybody so when I find people I actually have a natural bond with, that I can converse with for hours (and not become tired), I know it’s special. I think that’s the best thing that has come with accepting that I am an introvert. And I’m not ashamed of being one anymore.