Perhaps I’m not an introvert

It always shocks people to know I’m not an extrovert.

So much so, I have a cookie cutter response on hand at all times.

I know I seem like an extrovert but I’m really an introvert. You just mistake my passion and ability to hold a conversation for being an extrovert. But promise you I need a lot of alone time and find people draining.

It sounds like a great explanation, doesn’t it?

I was quite convinced till I started reflecting about some of my favourite memories while I was living in Singapore.

It’s quite a list, but there’s good reason for it:

  • That time we decided to go across the border to Malaysia just because we felt like eating fresh and cheap seafood. I didn’t even know half the other people, but it felt wrong to not go on this mini adventure.
  • Those nights out where I was with my Italian girls and we ended up at a whiskey party with aerial artists performing or having my birthday with 25 people, thinking it was the best time and not wanting the night to end.
  • That NYE foam party where we were soaked and freezing in our jean shorts, but it didn’t matter because we got to be around hundreds of people, living life.
  • Those Friday nights with my flatmates where our apartment would end up packed with people we didn’t know. They would  turn up as strangers, leave as friends.
  • Those work trips to Hong Kong which involved all day meetings,  establishing and building relationships.
  • That last night in Singapore which involved meeting a whole group of new people, indulging in cheese and wine, dancing on bar tops, making random friends at live karaoke sessions, and finishing the night with tacos and orchard towers.

To me, those were times that I displayed qualities closely linked to an extrovert: outgoing, chatty, and sociable.

But, I don’t talk about any of these experiences. I pretend they didn’t really happen. I tell myself that was just a weird phase of my life. Instead, I’ve now defined myself a person that enjoys reading, staying at home and pursuing solo interests. It’s caused me internal conflict because it was very much authentic to who I was, or more correctly, who I am.

In Singapore, I lived for going out, impromptu travel trips and meeting new people. Those were things that would make for an amazing weekend. It was exciting to think who I might meet and where life might take me. I had plenty of friends. I was easily the most talkative person in the office. But I felt like I was too chatty, too energetic, too much.

By the time I made the decision to come to Sydney, I decided to tone things down, become serious and try to forget that part of me behind. I decided it was cooler to be an introvert. We can thank Susan Cain for that one.

Yet, I hardly have what I consider amazing memories in Sydney because I don’t go out and meet people. I’ll often stay at home. I tell myself I hate group fitness classes, but I miss being around people. It’s no wonder that I don’t feel like myself in Sydney. It’s finally clicked as to why I feel so much more like myself when I was in New York; there was constant interaction with people.

I’m starting to question who I am, and how I have been living.

Interesting to me is looking back over the course of my life, I have thrived being around large groups of people.

Typically, it was on stage, in front of a camera or presenting to a large group of people. I even used to have a saying in my dancing days: the bigger the audience, the better I performed. It was just so energising, to feed off all the people around me.

This is something I’m starting to think about more, especially because in my hoop teacher course, I’m one of the few hula hoopers I know that doesn’t want to teach but is yearning to eventually perform at events and weddings.

Perhaps I’m actually not an introvert completely but I’ve just let my anxieties and insecurities get the best of me. I worry that I’m too different. I worry that I’m too energetic. I worry that I’ll scare people with my intensity.

There’s a really good chance that defining myself as an introvert isn’t completely inaccurate. I might not be a complete extrovert, but I do believe that I have been boxing myself up unnecessarily.