Lately, I’ve been into the whole extrovert/introvert dynamic. I’m in love with a very extroverted extrovert and sometimes I don’t think I’m going to make it through this relationship despite being madly in love with him.
He always has the radio blaring. He has a huge circle of friends he’s always asking to join us. We can’t go anywhere without him knowing at least five people. His friends call him “the mayor” because he has some connection with everyone, and he could literally be “on” every second of every day if he had to.
I’ve always been an ambivert — someone who goes between feeling extroverted and introverted — although I didn’t know it was a thing until I was older and saw the term on the internet. I immediately thought, Oh, there’s an actual name for my personality type! I now know that it’s more than fine for me to tune out every once in a while.
I can walk into a party and feel like I’m all in. I can socialize, I’m fine with heading to the bar or buffet alone and getting what I want. I have no problem making small talk with strangers.
Something happens to me that has always made me wonder if I’m really just a bitch. I do this thing where I shut down. I get tired. My mouth goes into a straight line and I have trouble focusing and staying in the conversation. I need to be alone to recharge. Many times when I’ve been out for the day or evening, I literally feel it for a few days afterward.
When I say feel it, I mean I feel like I’ve met my socialization quota for a while. It’s as if I have a switch that shuts off and alters my mood, just enough so it’s obvious to others.
There have been times it makes me feel embarrassed and insecure just for being, well, myself.
A friend of mine who is very extroverted, but married to an introvert, once told me she got her energy from other people. Her husband explained he felt like other people took his energy away. Oh boy, did I feel that.
There is a reason people, extroverts and introverts alike, shut down after being around a crowd, going to a party, or even spending one-on-one time with people: It’s tiring. And many times, we probably aren’t aware that socializing is even what’s making us tired.
A study at the University of Helsinki found everyone gets a bit run down after being social around three hours after the festivities were over.
Of course, this depends on a few factors like how long they’ve been out and about and how big the crowd is, but the results are clear — whether you are introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between, being a social butterfly does take the wind out of your sails. Being around people and chatting it up uses valuable energy, even if it’s more subtle than using physical energy by, say, going for a jog or moving furniture. In fact, the study suggests that it’s the frequency of social activities — not the amount of tiredness we get from socializing, which is just about the same in both groups — that distinguishes extroverted personalities from the introverts.
It means that no matter which label we wear, we need a break after hanging out, and that’s okay.
An article in I Heart Intelligence explains, “According to experts, introverts have a less active dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the reward and pleasure centers of the brain) and reward system than extroverts. Having a stronger dopamine reward system means that extroverts get more excited and energized by the possibility of reward than their counterparts. Hence, extroverts are much keener to initiate a conversation with a stranger or be the last one at the bar.”
So, this is probably why some feel the “hangover” worse than others after being social (I say social media counts, too), and we need to recognize it and take care of ourselves before that feeling becomes even more overwhelming.
Regardless of how run down you feel after socializing, you aren’t alone. We all need a break at some point — even my very social boyfriend.
We need to stop apologizing for it, and more importantly, we need to stop calling people out and shaming them if they decline an invitation or would rather stay in and read.
Because the truth is, social burnout is real, and impacts us all — even extroverts — at varying degrees. If you need to read a book and pass on that Zoom call or birthday party, then you should. No questions asked.
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