I’ve recently taken a HEXACO personality test, which measures personality across 25 dimensions. I ranked very high — higher than 95% of the population, on ‘social boldness’, an attribute of extraversion.
Social Boldness is defined as : “one’s comfort or confidence within a variety of social situations. Low scorers feel shy or awkward in positions of leadership or when speaking in public, whereas high scorers are willing to approach strangers and are willing to speak up within group settings.”
What’s life like when you’re *extremely* extroverted?
On one end, very interesting. I’ve met life partners, friends, work colleagues, and romantic partners, just from walking down the street with my laundry. I’m grateful to have a dense variety of friendships, which provide me with a broad perspective on the world I think many are missing.
On the other end, extremely exhausting. Imagine, the most emotionally tiring day you’ve had in the past month. You probably sat home, moped, and did some reading right? That’s impossible for me.
Yesterday, I have having a pretty difficult day. The wiser thing to do would be to sit at home, focus my intentions onto the issues at hand, and then address them. But extreme extraversion didn’t allow for that. It forced me out, into a long and suffocating evening of tireless conversations — with strangers, further exacerbating the specific problem I had.
My mind needed quiet, for contemplation and planning. However, my mind also felt it was necessary to speak to some random Meth addict, at 1am — for no particular reason. I feel like I’m constantly adding new faces, and not really connecting as deeply as I’d like, with the people I already know.
How did I become this way?
Childhood experiences forced me into extraversion, binding me into a dependency. Happy to talk about this more specifically in person.
What’s the problem with extreme extraversion?
The main issue is that it’s not an ability I can turn on-or-off. It’s so extreme that I can’t control it. I simply need to engage with a large number of people, deeply, in order to just feel sane — to just feel at default state. Imagine waking up everyday, and needing to engage with 10 people, deeply before noon hits just to feel normal.
It feels like I have the burden, of being the one in the group to greet the waiter, of greeting the strangers, of sparking emotion in a passerby’s face. It’s incredibly energy intensive — especially on days where I can’t even live with myself. In fact, this entry is some form of the extraversion being expressed.
Let me make it clear here — I think there’s healthy amounts of extraversion. But tail ends of any personality dimension are never healthy, no matter how much a culture seems to encourage the trait.
What’s a better view on extraversion?
We think only positively of extraversion.
Media and story has told us about how important it is to be open, warm, and friendly towards people. People only dream of being able to control a room, be the “life of a party”, or meet the love of their life on some rainy street.
But extraversion is not needed in many scenarios. For example, why try to meet a new love of your life if you already have handfuls of malnourished relationships? Why not pull that energy back in, and focus on what you already have?
I think a better way to experience the Introversion-Extraversion personality dimension is to aim for “social control”, instead of Extraversion. What I mean by this, is how able you are to navigate (or avoid) social situations to serve your ultimate intent, rather than mindlessly aim for extraversion.
In Dec 2019, I scribbled on a journal that in 2020 I should try to “round out the edges of my personality”. So, I’m excited that this has come into my awareness, and curious as to what it will bring.
I want to be more introverted. I want to write more alone like this. I want to read more, and have a richer sense of self. I want my internal worlds to be as rich as the world outside.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to continue meeting new people, but this time, they will be people in my head.