Now, that’s not to say I don’t like people. I love people! I loved growing up next to my uncle who had nine kids; I love my in-laws and their huge family; I loved working as a barista and a secretary and chatting to new customers daily; I love throwing big parties and being the recipient of big parties.
But making new friends is something else. Maintaining a new relationship past the awkward “how much do I share/we need to hang out often” stage and into the “I will tell you everything/we could go months without seeing each other and be okay” flow is just… hard. Making new friends totally drains me. And to be honest, so does staying at big parties without my “anchor” person (my husband, best friend, or friends I’ve known for ages), being expected to socialize with people I rarely see, or, sometimes, being at family events from either side when there are many children running around with minimum supervision. (All the kids are fairly well behaved, mind you, but still.)
I’m not sure why this is. I’m a friendly person. I’m known for liking to talk. I don’t find it hard to converse; in fact, I find it hard to stop talking sometimes. However, that’s my “mask”; some people retreat into themselves when faced with strangers, I talk about anything and everything to hide the fact that I feel awkward and nervous. Perhaps that’s part of why I always feel drained in new friendships; I feel as though I have to fill the silence so nobody feels awkward, because I’ve been in so many situations where there was silence and I felt awkward.
Perhaps it’s my tendency to take charge. Kids need corralling? I will head them off. Dishes need clearing? I’ll take those. People want attention? I’ll try to make them feel comfortable if I can. New friends aren’t talking much? I’ll make up for it by oversharing! And by the end, I’m just craving alone time, to sit by myself and not be spoken to or needed, to recharge in the quiet, to not have to talk or entertain.
I told my husband once that making new friends is hard, and he laughed at me. I am very much the more outwardly social person in our relationship, and someone on the outside might classify me as the extrovert and him as the introvert. But after reading articles about extroverts and introverts, how they gain energy, what they need, what they hate, what they like… I think really, I’m just an outgoing introvert, and my husband is a shy extrovert. I need quiet and alone time to recharge — introvert status. He loves big groups and gets energy from a crowd — extrovert all the way. I would gladly entertain myself with a book all day and not have to talk to anyone — definite introvert. He needs to see people and do things to pass the time — definite extrovert. He considers everyone his friend. I only consider people I actually hang out with consistently my friends (everyone else? acquaintances.)
Shirt, dress, and belt, thrifted | boots, Kohl’s | headscarf, Modcloth | glasses, c/o Firmoo | earrings, Target
And, though I am the “talkative” one, I actually prefer friends who talk more than I do, because then I don’t feel as though I have to entertain them, while he prefers people who let him talk too. So while outwardly, I look more social and he’s the quiet one, inwardly, I think our roles are flipped. At home, with just him I tend to be the quiet one while he is the talkative one. I tend to sit in my corner at well-known friends’ parties, while he’s the one hanging out and talking and being the social butterfly (of sorts; his talkative is not like my talkative.) When I’m really comfortable with people, I tend to observe and listen rather than talk and entertain.
It’s been quite eye-opening to me; it explains why I like blog friendships (on my terms, in my pajamas, no pressure to chat on the spot) and why I can talk to anyone at church or, in the past, work, but feel less comfortable pursuing relationships outside of those areas. It explains why I, the “social” one, don’t like going places where there will be new people I have to talk to. It explains why I preferred my job as a barista, where no customer could befriend me outside of work and there were no holiday events, to my job at Hallmark, where there were holiday parties with employees I had to attend that felt too intimate for a work relationship.
And I know labels are beginning to be old news, that people redefine who they are every day, but I like “fitting” a certain mold. Maybe I’m not an obvious one, but knowing I am more an introvert than extrovert is comforting. I’m not just really weird for being social but not liking having to make new friends.
What about you? Do you consider yourself to be more of an extrovert or an introvert? Shy or outgoing? No label? In between? I am curious to know if there are more people like me.