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What it’s like being an extroverted-introvert during COVID-19 and in regular life

WORDS BY Sophie McGrath

It’s all about honouring your needs and listening to your body.

I love forced isolation. There, I said it! I love being alone and spending too much time around people can leave me feeling drained and sometimes even physically unwell (mainly because I have chronic fatigue, something I discuss at length here).

Yet, I can be very social, often “on” and full of energy around people. I love meeting new people and even though I prefer more meaningful conversations, I’m well versed in making light-hearted small talk.

Welcome to the world of the extroverted-introvert, or, a new term I’ve just learnt – ‘ambivert’.

In short, when I’m “on”, I am sociable and outgoing and when I’m “off”, I rush to the solitude of my home. My home is also my place of work so I’m very attuned to my home environment.

Maybe you’ve heard of these terms or maybe you haven’t, but either way, I’ve broken down my six signs of being one right here for you and maybe you’ll resonate with it or maybe you’ll think I’m just complicated.

I can turn myself on and I can turn myself off

I’m a people pleaser by trade and in my job, I-AM-ON. Well, I have the ability to turn myself on. I run a publicity and events business and am often talking to clients or key opinion makers, or being seen at client events engaging in various conversations and dutiful tasks.

I can be in a crowd and thoroughly enjoy being in a crowd, party or group event and as soon as I am able or the function is over, I switch myself back off. Switching back off after a work event usually means crashing into my bed, saying two words to my husband and sleeping it off but hey, I’m working on my “come down”.

I’ll either find you intriguing or exhausting and therefore your personal energy can recharge or drain mine

I can only endure so much! A busy weekend filled with events or a long day of meetings can leave me drained and needing to recharge by being alone or just with my husband, Mark. Lucky for me, he is mostly introverted and tucked away in his home studio for hours on end.

I have a certain group of friends that I could hang out with long term. We’ll never run out of things to talk about and it’s easy. I act outgoing around them and feel energised spending time with them.

I can be charming but also deeply contemplative

I appear easy going but my mind is constantly spinning – do this, do that, next steps, blah blah. This non-stop attitude has gotten me places but has also been detrimental to my health. I’ll go to all sorts of lengths to make sure the people I am with feel comfortable, asking if they’re having a good time and if they need anything.

It actually takes less energy to say what’s on my mind than to make small talk

I hate small talk but doesn’t everyone? I can do it for sure, but I don’t enjoy it. Sure, when we meet let’s ask each other the generic questions, but I hope if it’s suitable we can connect on an honest and more authentic level.

I’m selectively social and have absolutely no interest in trying to prove myself to strangers

I don’t have the energy to maintain a large social network. I have friends that I’ve known all my life and a select bunch of close friends in random pockets of my life (work, gym, yoga) and they are my “people” – I invest my energy into them and they’re my first priority.

I’m a publicist and events manager by trade so you think I’d love to work a room – I don’t, nor do I feel the need to draw attention to myself in work situations and maybe that makes me a good publicist – we’re meant to be behind the scenes after all.

Of course, I see the value in making connections and I realise that now more than ever.

I’m often confused for an extrovert

It took me a while to realise that I am somewhat of an introvert, but I think back to that painfully shy little girl and it all makes sense.

I play the part of an extrovert so convincingly – I’m outspoken, I kiss-ass well, I dance like nobody’s watching, I can be loud and I’m good with people, but all this happens when of course I turn myself on.

In the time of COVID-19 it helps that I can be both introverted and extroverted and right now and into the future, it’s about honouring my needs, setting boundaries and making sure my energy source is never running on empty.

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