Journal Entry 4
By Stephanie Korpal
How often do you think about, and consider, the level of extroverted or introverted you are?
And then make decisions around that to build your life in a way that works for you?
Extroversion is considered one of the “big 5” personality traits. (The others are: agreeableness; neuroticism; conscientiousness; and openness.)
Many people mix up the understanding of extroversion/introversion and say things like “well I’m kind of a shy extrovert” or “I’m an outgoing introvert.”
Your level of extroversion is actually the answer to this: how much does being around other people recharge you?
Put situationally, it’s like this: if you had a busy work week, and were invited to happy hour on Friday after work, would it be something you would look forward to attending so you could decompress from the week and feel some joy and happiness? Or, would it be something that sounds hard and/or awful, because you just want to get home to decompress, and welcome joy and happiness into your life that way?
I am a major extrovert. There’s nothing like being around people (especially enjoyable ones!) that helps me feel happy and energized. That helps me feel settled and able to put down my hyperfocus on a variety of things (including ones that don’t matter). That actually give me hope and excitement; not about anything in particular, but just about day-to-day life. I smile harder, sleep deeper, and experience a higher frequency of positive thoughts after being around other people.
This isn’t to say I don’t know how to be alone, or avoid alone time, or dislike myself and use the company of others to distract me from that. Even as an extrovert, I know where my limits are, have enough self-awareness to acknowledge them, and am really good at declining a social invitation when my limits are reached and I know I need a night in with no one around.
But it’s also to say that I use my knowledge of my levels of extroversion to help with mood management and regulation.
What does that look like in my life? I have found that my balance is two social engagements during the week. If I don’t see anyone socially on Sunday, that first social engagement can be no later than Tuesday evening if I don’t want to feel like I am crawling out of my skin by Wednesday (the crawling feeling will even set in earlier because I know the social engagement isn’t coming earlier. I once didn’t have plans until Thursday, and by Tuesday morning was feeling itchy about it!). If I do manage to do something socially Sunday (which I highly recommend---let’s make the weekend a WEEKEND, huh? Not keep all of the fun relegated to Saturday!), I buy myself a little time AND the impact of the weekend goes much deeper, in a very helpful, valuable way for me.
I also know that this level of social engagement changes when I am around coworkers a lot; when a romantic relationship is present in my life; or some other factors that change the ebb and flow of my energy output. Because I know those factors, I can continue to build my weekly schedule in a way that helps me optimize my life experience. And isn’t that what we all want to figure out?
Another metaphor I like to use for my extroversion is that of an atom. It like my outer electron ring is unstable without the right amount of socializing in it.
Do you know what it takes for your outer electron ring to be stable? Can you make changes to get that stability more often?
Learning what works best for me has been immensely helpful in managing overwhelm, feelings of anxiety, ruminating, etc.
I hope the same for you!
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