The Grass in Extrovert Territory

When I moved onto campus as a college freshman two years ago, I was under the impression I could be whomever I wanted from that day forward. Practically no one knew me at my new school, which was an amazing prospect. I had attended the same small private Christian school for 9 years, and I was ridiculously ready to step out of the person my previous classmates knew me to be—the quiet, overachieving know-it-all who was prone to hideous fashion choices and an underlying proud streak.

I believed that, with some effort, I could be outgoing as a college student. I could be socially confident, self-sacrificing, real and warm and empathetic. I could be the type of person who held an active part in large group conversations, who reveled in social events, and who navigated society with charming enthusiasm. God willing, I could even find a boyfriend.

However, I remember lying awake one night that same year, staring up at the dark ceiling of my dorm room and still being so sick of my personality that I wished there was a way to take some sort of break from it. It seemed I had simply declined, not advanced toward my sparkly, extroverted goal. Instead of fun-loving and social, my personality was a vibrating box of high-maintenance and chronic inner turmoil, and to top it off, I felt like an apathetic cardboard cutout of a perfectionist who couldn’t genuinely care about anybody.

What was life like for those people I saw everywhere on campus—who were always smiling and laughing with friends, even when they had mountains of homework? Those who knew and cared about absolutely everyone, who were hyper involved, and who generally seemed very comfortable in their own skin?

It didn’t seem fair. Their confidence and passion intimidated me….

I wanted to be an extrovert too.

But I wouldn’t be happier as an extrovert, as being human in general is difficult. It’s not a matter of whether one derives restoration from being with people or spending time alone. Everyone is different, with their own set of virtues and faults, their own areas of confidence and painful insecurity. It’s easy to feel like we’re the ones with all the problems, as we feel the pain of our own shortcomings, but only see what others show of their unique struggles–making comparison a very detrimental game.

So, ultimately, the grass in introvert territory is just as green as that of extrovert territory, and both sides have their flowers and thorns.

Transitioning from resentment to appreciation of my personality was a gradual and messy sequence of events that remains ongoing to this day, and as I step into my junior year of college, I am more clueless than ever of who I am–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

But I have since decided that I want very much to be myself.

2 thoughts on “The Grass in Extrovert Territory

  1. Speaking as a fellow introvert, I find I am stronger now in my old age (37) because I know that we introverts have a powerful quietness that lends us to more leadership from the heart positions. We aren’t all about us. We need time to reflect and find the words to convey truth to whomever.
    When I tell people I am an introvert, unless they really know me, they don’t believe ~ especially when I lead workshops. After the workshops are done, I am spent physically and mentally.
    If you have the chance read the book Quiet by Susan Cain…it is a book that might help you find out who you are.

  2. I can completely identify with you in that coming to college I was under the impression that it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I thought I could reinvent myself and shape my life to be everything I had ever pictured it being. I, like you, found that this is much easier said than done.

    That said, I think regardless of who you are, whether you be an introvert of extrovert, college is all about finding yourself. It sounds like you are definitely on the path to discovering who you really are. Once you find yourself and learn to accept whoever that may be, I think confidence will follow.

    Sure, not all people can be extroverts, not everyone is comfortable with being super outgoing but that is the beauty of life. We all all different but becoming comfortable in our own skin and with our own personalities is essential if we ever want to have confidence and live happy lives.

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