I have to admit, I’m pretty extreme on the extroversion scale. For me, the hardest days are ones where I have to practice being alone. I love people, and come home feeling alive, motivated, and inspired after interacting with others or after a really good conversation.
But let’s back up a little. You may have noticed that there are not just one, but two categories of people when it comes to social interactions. Modern psychology refers to these two personality types as introverts and extroverts. A lot of people mistakenly believe that the word “extrovert” describes sociable, friendly people, while the word “introvert” describes the loners and homebodies.
Though some introverts and extroverts have these qualities, the terms do not actually refer to a set of qualities but rather an internal drive. True extroverts are people who are energized by being around other people, while introverts are people who are energized by being alone. There is an array of personalities on the spectrum of introvert to extrovert, but the general idea lies in concept of energy and motivation.
Like me, extroverts need people to get through life. In fact, the thought of being alone for long periods of time may seem daunting, or draining. They are the people who would rather sit in a busy coffee shop to read and study- rather than alone in a library, or isolated in their apartment. They are drawn to people because it is in the presence of others that they feel most alive, most connected.
But as much inspiration, energy, and motivation that I get from being with people – the reality is that can’t always happen. There are times and even seasons in my life where I have been forced to be alone. There have been days of limited socializing if any at all.
I look back at my life and remember the most quiet times- my years of singleness when being alone was more of the norm than being with people, or the months after having my children- with very little sleep, and very little human interaction during the day other than conversations with a squeaking little infant. Even now, having recently moved to a new city (3 weeks ago!), with very few friends and thousands of miles away from loved ones….being alone is often a reality of life.
As an extrovert, I’ve had to learn that sometimes, it’s not always practical or possible to simply “recharge” just when I need it the most. But I’m also learning that just because I am alone, doesn’t mean that I have to give in to loneliness.
If you connect with the heart of an extrovert, here are some things that I’ve learned that have helped me remain balanced:
Feed your need for people- Because you can’t always guarantee what each day will bring, if you’re an extrovert- do yourself the favor of planning ahead. It’s a pretty simple concept but for extroverts, a Friday evening with nothing to do and no one to see can seem incredibly daunting. If you have some extended alone time in your foreseeable future, go ahead and plan ahead.
Get a calendar and fill in the blanks – coffee dates, dinner out, and time with friends. Find activities that feed your mind, spirit, and heart- but also feed your need to connect. Be deliberate about filling your life with the things and people that will recharge you and keep you going week after week. Learn to reach out to the world around you, instead of waiting for them to reach out to you. Be active about maintaining your social life, because for extroverts- it’s a piece in their puzzle of staying in good health.
Practice the art of being alone- I think this is a very important practice for the extrovert. Because extroverts seek out opportunities to connect with others, sometimes they fail to take the time to really connect with themselves. It’s easy to keep an outward focus when you’re trying to recharge externally. But sometimes, there is so much to be learned within the confines of a balanced experience of solitude. It is an opportunity for self-reflection, healing, and identity-shaping. For extroverts, it’s crucial to master the art of being alone as a chance to get to the heart of who you are without the distraction of the external. (For more on this, check out this article: The Art of Being Alone).
Learn to look UP- The easiest way for an extrovert to recharge is to submerge themselves within the flood of the social; constant hustle and bustle, parties, activities, events, conversations, and interactions. But though these might be the easiest ways to recharge, they aren’t always the most meaningful. It’s important for an extrovert to remember that there are other ways to find energy, inspiration, and motivation and learn to seek these things out by way of the Spiritual.
As important as it is to connect horizontally with the world around, it’s crucial for an extrovert to connect vertically- with a God who embodies the meaning of a constant companionship, affection, and love. Rather than simply looking around, take the time to look UP for refreshment, healing, and energy. Invest in your relationship with God and learn to take the time to be still, to be quiet, and to listen for His voice when no one is around. We extroverts have a tendency to miss Him within the chaos of our lives and instead fill His place with others. At the end of the day, our need to connect with others is ultimately a deep reflection of the truth that we were wired to connect with Him.
So, my fellow extroverts- enjoy the people God has placed in your life and the way you have been wired. But always remember to do it with a sense of balance, an appreciation for solitude, and consistent appetite for connection with God.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!