An extravert myself, I have always questioned the popular description of an introvert: Someone who energizes from alone-time and deep reflection, as opposed to the ever-energetic, outgoing extravert. How wonderful, then, to find Elaine Aron giving space to guest blogger and fellow researcher Jacquelyn Strickland. In Introversion, Extroversion and the Highly Sensitive Person, she explains my very experience, that Susan Cain’s version of introversion, isn’t that, but high sensitivity.
My personal experiences are mine, and mine alone. I have never found anyone quite like me. I take it, neither have you. But once I start sharing, I find that there are many who have been confused about this. They think they cannot be extraverts, because they hate small talk and dislike staying up all night at parties. But still, they feel elevated after some deep conversation and socializing. What, then, are they?
When I first started reading about high sensitivity, I had already written about it. Not knowing its name, I still had this idea that there are many out there “like myself”. Creative. Reflective. Profound. Inquisitive. Ever-searching for the meaning of life and our very existence. Some “like me” were outgoing enough, most, however, were not. But the connection was in the deep conversation.
I was born extravert. I have never craved alone time. Two hours in my own company, and I would be either depressed or angry. Leave me alone with my migraine in a dark room, and I get so lonely, you have no idea. There is very little reason to call me an introvert. Yet, Susan Cains “Quiet”, her description of introversion, fit me all the way down to that little detail. Being an extravert, I am the first person to discuss this with anybody who will listen. So I found this to be true: An extraverted HSP is not the same as other extraverts. Extraverted HSPs do, if not as much, yet still, get quite overstimulated by socializing. In fact, I find that being an extraverted HSP is quite exhausting. When depressed, all that helps, is seeing other people. But socializing when depressed, is not necessarily an easy task. You need positive feedback, and won’t get it if you ooze sadness.
Being an extraverted HSP is complicated. Therefore, it is quite important that we understand what is going on. Apart from the chaos and misunderstanding involved, I genuinely believe that being an extraverted HSP is a fortunate thing. Tiring, in fact exhausting, but deeply fulfilling. Everything you learn on your journey through life, can reward you with knowledge that you can use in your meetings with other people. Because that is where you thrive. If you know how to look after yourself, you can use your sensitivity to communicate positively, and receive so much positivity in return. Because it is within yourself, and other people will mirror you.
In short, an extraverted HSP needs to know when to stop, when to say no, and know that it is all right. You do need more down time than someone who isn’t HSP. It is not because you have less energy, but you probably spend more in one go. Make the most of your up-time, and then let go, know that you can’t beam all the time. You need rest and time for contemplation, just like any other HSP. Because you have so much inside. You need to take care of that, too. It’s pretty obvious. If you are always alert as to what goes on the outside, and take it all in, you need time to process it. Fortunately, an extravert can speak-process (How many times have I not said something incredibly wise aloud, not ever having thought of it before). But processing takes time and needs for you not to be interrupted in the process. If you are to become wise and useful in this world, this is a priority you have to make. Lucky you!
What do you think? Wasn’t it about time we got the message, loud and clear? It’s hard to believe what you know to be true, when the whole world says something different. But now we know. We were right all along. And extravert HSP is simply a bit of everything. Quiet and loud, contemplative yet talkative, sociable and still tired. Good to know, eh? So, keep up the good work and be yourself.
But if you are not, as I am, an extravert HSP, you are all right too. We need all there is in the world. But this time, at long last, we got some focus on the minority in the minority. The HSE.