I first took a personality test in junior high. The results reminded me of Tris’s aptitude test in Divergent. I was exactly on the line, between “introvert” and “extrovert.” And my life experiences reflected this.
I loved being in groups of people and sought acceptance, but I did not like talking or being the center of attention. I was very introspective, but I liked to share my thoughts with other people.
Thankfully, as more research has been done on personality, we are realizing that there are more types than just “introvert” and “extrovert.” Over time, I would realize that I am a shy extrovert.
Is it possible that you are a shy extrovert as well? Here are some situations you may encounter, if you belong in this camp:
1. We are at the party, but we aren’t the life of the party.
Shy extroverts love being in social situations, but we do not feel the need to dominate the conversation. We may not speak up at the party, because we do not think that our jokes are interesting and because we do not always enjoy talking about ourselves. We also enjoy observing those around us, and we may become expert “people watchers.”
One way that I have learned to capitalize on this ‘quirk’ is to use my interest in observing those around me as a way to connect with them. Most people do love talking about themselves, and shy extroverts often feel more comfortable when there is less of a ‘threat’ of being judged. So I ask people open-ended questions. When they tell a funny story, I ask them questions about it. Inquisitiveness is a secret superpower that shy extroverts can hone, and it can provide us with a strong social advantage.
2. We tend to be great listeners.
Because we are interested in those around us, shy extroverts tend to be good listeners. We are often able to devote a great deal of time listening to those around us, without seeming like we would rather be somewhere else. We are also able to listen deeply to the speaker, rather than just thinking about our next words.
I have found that my ability to listen to those around me (especially as I have learned to ask questions) has helped me to connect with a greater variety of people. I have developed friendships with people from many different walks of life, and I hear all about the ‘drama’ that my friends are experiencing, without being dragged into it.
3. We are very good at keeping secrets.
Shy extroverts sincerely love listening to other people, and we do not feel the need to become the center of attention. That means that we know everybody’s secrets, but we have no desire to share them in a gossip session.
I have heard juicy, deep secrets from my friends, my acquaintances, and even total strangers in the grocery store line! And I can say that I honestly have no need to divulge these secrets, because I know that the situation is about the person who shared it, not about me. I have no desire to make someone else’s drama my own.
4. We love big, loud parties.
Large, but quieter gatherings make us nervous. We do not want to be put on the spot, when we would rather observe those around us and just be a part of things. We are uncomfortable when we are caught between two conversations at the dinner table, or when someone asks us to share something from our personal lives.
What we really prefer is a loud, fun gathering with lots of music and dancing. We can join the crowd on the dance floor, or we can sit down and take in the sights and sounds around us. We love to watch, and we love to be a part of it all, without having to talk.
5. We don’t need conversation to be constant.
While most extroverts are not comfortable with pauses in the conversation, shy extroverts do not mind them at all. In fact, we welcome the break, where we can take a moment to process and collect our thoughts.
I have noticed that I become exhausted conversing with people who never pause, and that I also become frustrated when someone tries to answer a question for me. As a shy extrovert, I need that processing break. The wheels are turning, and my answer will be well thought-out, because it is not instantaneous.
6. We tend to have long conversations.
Due to our introspective nature, shy extroverts like to take time to process things. We like to examine everything from every angle and to consider all the possibilities of a situation. And, because we are extroverts, we prefer to do this with someone else there, to bounce ideas off.
I learned early on, that I loved to write in my journal, but that I also liked someone else to read it, so that they could give their input. It wasn’t that I was seeking approval from the other person; I was wanting a third party to see my ideas and to share their thoughts on them. I still tend to write long e-mails to friends, when I am trying to sort out a situation.
7. We love meeting up with old friends.
When we haven’t seen a friend in a long time, it can be very exciting for shy extroverts to hear all about that friend’s adventures and learning. We love to watch how people grow and see how everyone matures and changes after a long absence. Add to it the fact that the meet-up is often a one-on-one conversation, and this becomes a perfect scenario for a shy extrovert.
I have found that I am much more comfortable meeting up with one friend at a time, and I do prefer the meet-ups to be somewhat spread out. I love to take a couple hours in the evening to catch up with an old friend over coffee, or to enjoy a short picnic with a visiting friend from my home town. Hearing other people’s stories has always made me happy, and the stories do become more interesting after a time of absence.
8. We hate public speaking.
While many extroverts love talking in front of crowds, shy extroverts can’t stand it. Public speaking is everything we dislike. We are the center of attention, we are not able to observe those around us, and we are set up in a position where we may be judged.
I have noticed that I stumble over my words much more when I am speaking to a crowd of more than three people. The lack of immediate response that you receive from public speaking also makes me nervous. If I am not confident, I always assume the worst. I would much rather converse one-on-one, or share my thoughts in writing.
9. We need some (but not too much!) time to recharge.
Like introverts, shy extroverts may become overwhelmed in large social gatherings and need some time to recharge. We might stay home for an evening, thinking that we will love spending a great deal of time alone. However, after a few hours, we become restless and start craving human contact.
I have definitely found this to be true in my life. I need my alone time, but then I also need to be hanging out with everyone else, even if I am just observing and asking them questions about their lives.
In the end, the existence of shy extroverts only proves that all of humanity cannot be divided into just two categories. We need to understand (and embrace) the fact that our personalities are much more complex than that. All of our quirks are more than “okay,” and it is really time for all of us to embrace the one-of-a-kind person that we really are!
Featured photo credit: Flicker via flickr.com