Recently, I read an article about being an introvert in society and how it’s hard to be a parent and attend social functions when you are an introvert. The article was an interesting read. I never considered how an introverted parent feels, at say, a birthday party. I never considered it because I don’t have social anxiety or shyness since I am an extrovert. I can talk to most anyone, anytime. Sure, I get a little nervous in certain situations when I am put on the spot, and speaking in front of people isn’t my favorite thing to do. But, I’ve never had a problem communicating with other people, regardless of the situation. I often enjoy engaging with others and making new friends. Yet, even with being a social person – an extrovert – I too have issues.
I have found these obstacles to overcome as an extroverted person and parent.
- Being an extroverted parent and having an introverted child.
When my oldest child’s personality was in full swing, around the age 2, she was very shy. I felt like this was a reflection of my parenting. I later realized it was not. It was simply her demeanor. She has always been a cautious kid and interacting with new people showcased this. I thought I could bring her out of her shell by introducing her to other children in the setting. It didn’t matter. She would cling to me like a dryer sheet until she felt comfortable enough to leave my side, which sometimes never happened. Eventually, I learned to accept her shyness. And then she flipped a switch after her sister was born. She is no longer super shy at age 4; though sometimes she is bashful at first, she almost always speaks up after a few minutes since she is now a big sister, and always has to introduce her baby sister when we are out.
2. Being an extrovert can get you in trouble at school and work.
Thinking about my childhood when I was as a kid, I was always more outgoing than my siblings. I can remember when I was in 3rd grade I would get in trouble a lot for talking in class. I remember when my teacher, Mr. Willard, had a parent-teacher conference with my mom. He had told her, “She is a good student, she just needs to listen and not socialize so much in class.” Fast forward to present day and guess what? My socialization skills haven’t changed a bit. I catch myself at times talking over people to get the thought out of my mind before it escapes me, and sometimes chat more than I listen. My close friends and family have probably accepted this quirk I have.
I also work in Human Resources and get to deal with people on a daily basis (yay for me), but, I can see how “talking” seems like socializing in the workforce.
I work in an environment that is rather quiet. I am not a loud person – I speak at normal volume. But, I get “caught” talking often to co-workers. And you know what I mean by getting “caught.” The boss or boss of the boss doesn’t say anything to you – just gives you that look like ‘hey, get back to work.’ And in your head, you think I am working! If an employee comes to me with a problem, I discuss the issue with them and then the conversation trails off into other areas of life. Especially now that I am a mom. I love hearing other mothers’ stories, issues, concerns and I always offer my opinion – and I am not an opinionated person. I just like to help when I can. So, you can see where this is going. Sometimes being an extrovert can get you into trouble even when you are trying to be helpful. Because extroverts are social beings. We like to communicate with other people. We often feed off of other peoples’ energy, which, at times can be draining.
Another issue I deal with (usually at work) is interacting with introverts. If you are an extrovert, chances are every morning upon entering the office you say, “Good morning! How are you?” and you kind of expect the same from others. Though that’s not fair. The reason: some folks don’t like engaging in conversation – even if it involves saying, “good morning.” These are generally the introverts. I often would question in my head, does she like me? She never says ‘hi.’ I have realized it’s not a matter of liking someone or not, an introvert just keeps to him/herself. They aren’t ones to go out of their way to greet you, ask you about your kids, or how your weekend was. They simply keep to themselves.
3. Extroverts have a hard time understanding introverts.
I find introverts a little hard to read. I am an open book – not sure if that comes with being an extrovert? And I ask more questions than I probably should. I can’t help it; it’s simply how I’m wired. I’m an inquisitive person and like to learn about other people. This is the hardest part of being an extrovert. I hate it when I am in a conversation with someone and they give me nothing – no feedback. It’s like talking to the wall. There is no extra socializing to be had. To an extrovert this can feel like the wind has been knocked out of you, especially when you share personal stories and the response isn’t the same.
It has taken me years to understand others and to come to this conclusion: just because someone doesn’t converse much with you, and just because someone keeps their head down when they bypass you at work – doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Though, that could be the reason. Ask yourself this: are they like that with almost everyone else? If the answer is yes, then they are simply an introvert. They prefer to keep to themselves, to be alone. And that is totally their prerogative. It is their comfort level, which is completely different from an extrovert.
As an extroverted mom of two girls, the best advice I can offer my girls is this: ask the questions you want to ask. Greet the person you want to greet – even if you get a half-hearted response, or don’t. Do what makes you feel comfortable. Just always be you.
Extroverts and introverts get along just fine once we accept one another’s differences.