An Introvert in an Extrovert’s Body?

introvertsIs it wrong to be feeling this terrified?

I sent a Facebook private message to my friend Tom yesterday. After several months of planning, scheduling and then rescheduling, he and his writer co-host Gemma were interviewing me about blogging and books in the local library for their podcast on ThankBookFor.com.

Thinking about it, there shouldn’t have been any reason for my nerves – I’ve known Tom for years and I met Gemma recently when she appeared on the panel at a Waterstones publishing event, so I knew that I would be in good company. I’ve been writing for several years and I have enough knowledge where I feel confident enough to hold my own, and it would be the first time where I would get the opportunity to discuss the topic I am steadfastly passionate about without having to worry about the glazed expressions appearing in the eyes of the people I am talking to.

However, it was also the first time that I would have to verbally communicate with real-life human beings instead of hiding behind the safety of a computer screen, and it was this that I found to be immensely intimidating.

Those who follow the blog regularly will know that I was a classroom teacher for many years, where a large percentage of my role involved communication with children and teenagers, and yet this has never been an issue – I have never been concerned about their opinions of me on a personal level. However, put me in front of (or as part of) a group of adults and every insecurity I’ve ever had about myself comes to the surface and starts telling me I’m sh*t.

At the first Bloggers Bash in 2015, Sacha Black gave a speech in which she described herself as an ‘introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body.’ I couldn’t think of anything more perfect to describe myself. On the face of it, I’m a complete introvert – I love spending time alone and often find that my energy is quickly exhausted by large crowds, I don’t deal with last-minute changes or surprises very well, I process things internally and I have a small (ish) group of very close friends. However, nobody would know this when talking to me. Generally, while I’ve never been a leader, I almost fake a level of confidence that allows me to talk to anyone about any topic at any time, maintain eye-contact, smile, laugh and joke without revealing that I’m actually dealing with a massive amount of anxiety churning around in my stomach. I’ll ‘go with the flow’ in a group without revealing that I’m worrying about the consequences of not planning in advance. I’m constantly fighting the negative thoughts that plague my brain about the opinions that I assume others have made of me.

I almost cancelled the interview completely.

However, I talked myself into it, and as an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body, I went along to the library yesterday, took a deep breath, smiled and started to talk.

I loved every minute of it! An hour-and-a-half flew by, and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that it had finished so quickly – it was fun just sitting back and talking to people who wanted to learn about what I do and how I do it. I didn’t stop to think about the situation I was in, or how I felt about it, and I’m so glad that I did.

I suppose, upon reflection, that being an introvert isn’t a bad thing – it means I get to enjoy my alone time in particular – as long as the extrovert keeps pushing me to get myself out there and try new things.

Incidentally, the podcast will be available in about a month, so I’ll share it for anyone that wants to hear it!

What about you guys? Are you an introvert, extrovert or a mixture of both?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

125 thoughts on “An Introvert in an Extrovert’s Body?

  1. Suzie, I do the same thing. I’ll agree to something and then try to talk myself out of it. If I go ahead as planned, I always enjoy myself. I don’t know why
    I let nerves and self-doubt creep in. It’s such a waste of energy.

  2. I think I have always been a pretty outgoing person, I talk to much, both online,and in reality! But there are still those nerves that kick in, like just before meeting everyone at the Bloggers Bash. A slight fear of the unknown, but then the verbal diahorrea starts, and before I know it, things are ok!
    I am married to an introvert though…! So we are the polar opposites!

      • We go in, and he finds a small group of people he knows, and I end up flitting about! If we don’t know people, we stick together but I’ll seize the opportunities to talk to others, he won’t search for them.
        But imagine if we were both extroverts?! We’d be vying for attention from each other all the time! As it is, I’m pretty subdued at home, as the kids take over!!!

      • The Bloke is exactly the same, although he does attract people to talk to naturally – people seem to go over and want to talk to him which is nice…

      • It’s funny when we’re out as he attracts the older ladies, we’re talking much older ladies here… One of them was chatting him up in waterstones and he had no idea haha!

  3. I am a total introvert! But, I do like to speak to women and although I can do and would love to do more of it, I find that I am the very most comfortable in one on one situations. I totally relate to your fears. But, I see you as a very confident, well spoken, educated woman who is fascinating to read and converse with. Loved this post! DAF (Cathi)

  4. I know exactly how you feel! Crowds drain me pretty quickly, I need time alone to charge my batteries. That being said, I love working with kids, doing my writing workshops. I can handle that kind of crowd any day. πŸ™‚

    • Haha absolutely! I feel comfortable among bloggers because I know that we all have the same thing in common, although in certain occasions it can be a bit more competitive than i would like!

  5. Yes! I am so content doing things on my own & have to convince myself to get out & to be social. When I write something, though, I want to share it. I often wonder if everyone feels the same level of nervous about socializing. Glad to know I am not alone.

    • I can totally relate – i have got myself into trouble with family and friends because I have shared something online without telling them about it first… It’s the false safety of the computer screen I think that gives me confidence…

  6. I have bipolar, and I find that my ratio of introvert/extrovert varies depending on my mood. Since I give, on average, about two speeches a month about living with a mental illness, sometimes it’s harder, sometimes it’s easier. I have found that talking about myself in these speeches, or about things I’m passionate about (a lot less frequently) is much, much easier than some other random subject.

    • I think that it’s very brave of you to do that and kudos – there’s still such a stigma surrounding mental illness and things like bipolar and depression, so it’s great that you can open up about it and teach others about your experiences!

  7. An introvert is an extrovert’s body is who I’m too. I love being with myself, it’s hard for me to talk for myself, every group setting makes me nervous first and then the feeling eases, I’ve super close friends mostly one from each phase of life, but yes if you meet me or read my blog, I appear to be an extrovert.

    • I think that’s the beauty of writing – we don’t have to worry about judgment right in front of our faces so it allows us to be more open and confident in what we are writing…

  8. I’m an introvert through and through – but in the interests of not being a complete hermit I force myself to be sociable and see people! πŸ™‚

  9. Great post! I’ve never quite been able to work myself out. I love meeting people and making friends yet at the same time being in a group bigger than about 3 or 4 I shrink into the background and feel intimidated so find it hard to add to the conversation. I’m fine in crowds (ie, bars, gigs) but hate last minute changes. I go with what other people want and allow myself to be walked all over for fear of upsetting people yet have taken some big risks like recently quitting my job and moving to Cornwall! I’m a real mish mash -full of self doubt and often talk myself out of things! I’m due to go for a surf this morning at a spot I’ve never surfed at. I agreed to meet a friend but I’m sitting here slightly dreading it. I’m sure I’ll be fine afterwards though x

      • Thanks! A lot of people say I seem super confident but I’m absolutely not. Our new life is a world away from where we were. We have some tough times but a dip in the sea cures it all. The meet up was fine thanks – I can no longer feel intimidated at surfing at that particular spot!

  10. Love this post. I think If I am comfortable with people and know them, I am an extrovert – like the bash this year I wasn’t nervous because I knew everyone. Last year I was terrified – there was a huge difference in speeches (in my eyes I was shaky and jittery last year) and this year I wasn’t. Anyway. I too get drained by large groups of people I don’t know, but I tend to be fine If I know people, but I definitely think in an extroverted way – i.e. out loud! Im definitely some sort of weird hybrid!

    • On the face of it you are an absolute extrovert, but I know differently now as i’ve got to know you a little better. And it was you who helped me to understand myself a bit better too!

  11. Oh, Suzie, I’m glad you didn’t cancel, but I sympathise completely! I remember Sacha saying that too, and thinking just the same thing – that’s me. I struggle with parties and large groups and will often take myself away for a breather, yet I also love talking to people and meeting new people. Strange, isn’t it? Perhaps that’s why we enjoy a writers life so much, as it is (mostly) spent alone. Looking forward to hearing the podcast when it’s out xx

  12. I guess I’m one too, also learned recently that I’m highly sensitive also very tiring, worrying about I’ve said, have I offended, overthink things to death, noises and smells are so distracting when reading. It’s just taken 15 mins to write this.

    • I’ve changed a lot in the last 18 months or so. As a person, I’m not very organised, but I have become a bit of a planner when it comes to events and trips simply because I like to know what I’m doing…

  13. I am an introvert in an introvert’s body! Despite the fact that I do really love people, I find it very difficult making conversation, and that coupled with me not hearing so well when there is a lot of noise means that I often mishear things or don’t hear them at all!!!
    I can talk in front of a lot of people at work when I am confident of my subject.
    Well done to you Suzie for overcoming your nerves, I am so glad it went well and I look forward to listening to it when it is available πŸ™‚

  14. I think it’s how you deal with these things that define you more. I’m like you, I’m a bit introverted, but I will stand alone in a crowd and speak my mind if feeling do inclined.
    Hope you’re well Suzie! πŸ˜ƒ

    • I think some of my friends would be surprised too – that’s why it’s so difficult sometimes when I say that I’m going home if it’s getting quite late on a night out… It isn’t because I don’t enjoy their company, more that I’m finding it overwhelming in a crowded place! Have you ever talked to them about it?

      • Yes, my close friends. I’m usually the first to leave and the first in bed on girls weekends because I need some alone time, and they laugh, and love me for all of my quirks, just as I love them for theirs. I am blessed. I’m also pretty outspoken and, at times, bold, which is where people would be surprised that I consider myself an introvert. But I am happiest alone at home. I’m always looking for waterfront properties with no neighbours that we could run away to and really never see anyone lol

      • Haha! That sounds amazing – I’d love a little house in the middle of nowhere! My female friends do the same – they have accepted that I’ll be the first one to leave and just carry on afterwards haha!

  15. I’m the opposite. I’m an extrovert in an introvert’s body. When I’m around people I seem to be confident and outgoing. I have very little self-confidence, I’m afraid I’ll say something ridiculous, and afterwards I go over every word I said to remind myself how stupid I really am. The consequences of being a domestic violence survivor, I suppose. Deep down I know I’m not the pathetic person my brain tries to tell me I am, and one of these days I’ll walk into a room with confidence.

    • It’s so difficult to not over-analyse everything that you say, particularly when you’ve had such horrible experiences… Have you found that it has got better over time!

      • Even almost 20 years later, I still sometimes hear my ex in my head telling me I’m crazy and everybody knows it. And it’s the manic side of my bipolar disorder that I always thought was the reason people thought I was an extrovert/confident. That’s why I tend to isolate myself, I’m afraid I’ll say/do something stupid or “crazy.” I now give myself little pep talks on the way to a social situation, and generally that helps. I still would prefer to be a shut-in, but I realize that’s not conducive to a meaningful life. I’m trying!

      • It’s awful that one person has had such a profound effect on your life. It took me years to get over my relationship with a narcissistic sociopath, but I’m grateful for every step that I made along the way – I’m so much stronger now! Good luck in your journey!

  16. Suzie, I believe I am a little bit of both. I love being around people and being social, but not always the great conversationalist and sometimes I really prefer to be by myself. I will talk in front of people, but only if I really know the subject matter.

    I’m glad you had fun with this and it all went smoothly. Sometimes we are our own worst critic and instill fear in ourselves when it’s not necessary. I hope you get to have more adventures like this in the future.

  17. I grew out of being an introvert in my mid-40s. Giving regular staff trainings, then interacting with other students in grad school forever changed me. 8 months out of the year I lecture and love it, but I still need my me time–reading a good book, being by myself is still good therapy πŸ™‚

      • Of course. I refuse to be anything but honest. Writing helps me deal with a lot of it, as well as other artistic endeavors. With writing and reading, I am not myself. An essential part of me is missing, you know? I’m but a shell of my former self. I occasionally journal, too, which is completely different from my fiction writing, but both are cathartic. Counseling is beneficial to me, too. Thank you for asking!!!

  18. I think being a writer means functioning in private with oneself to get a story written, but marketing that book means being out in the public, making close friends of total strangers. A bit neurotic maybe.
    I used to call myself the wallpaper paste behind the wallpaper. So, yeah, mostly an introvert.

  19. Great post. Finding balance between one’s introverted and extraverted sides is always key; I’m also a total introvert, though most people tend to think I’m an extravert when they interact with me!

      • Interesting question! That’s certainly what I did to first break out of my shy bubble when I was younger, but at this point I’ve actually managed to “beat the shyness,” so to speak, so that I don’t feel nervousness around people anymore, but instead just recognize that I sort of lose a physical/emotional sense of myself if I don’t have the necessary hours of solitary time to recollect my resources, if that makes sense. I’m actually extremely open on a conversational level now and share huge aspects of myself surprisingly easily, but any of my actual writing, thinking, pondering, meditating, decision-making, problem-solving, or so on has to be done in an absolutely private space with no distractions.

        (I’m an INFJ, by the way!)

  20. Suzie, the whole introvert/extrovert thing intrigues me. Some people are clearly one or the other but I suspect most of us fall somewhere in the middle and perhaps it depends on the situation. One of the things that’s surprised me “on my travels”, is the number of musicians I meet who are introverts. I think their sensitivity and perceptiveness (if that’s a word), enables them to play beautifully but can make performing very stressful. You hear of singers going on The Voice who spent years singing in their rooms with the door closed. My daughter can be like that. I actually got quite surprised the other day when I could hear singing through her door.
    I’m a fairly extroverted extrovert but as I’ve got older, I enjoy time on my own more but I’m not sure that blogging really counts as being”alone”, does it?!!
    Hope you have a great week!
    xx Rowena

    • Even though the act of bloggin is lonely, once you find a community it is anything but – there is always someone to talk to! Muso’s are definitely introverts – I think they have to be in order to practice that much, but then again it takes a lot of nerve to get up on stage and perform!

      • It’s quite an interesting dynamic that, isn’t it!! Perhaps, it explains why so many creatives end up with issues. Ultimately, turning themselves inside out to get somewhere, ultimately takes its toll.

  21. When I saw your headline, Suzy, there was something vaguely familiar about it. But as soon as you mentioned Sacha, I remembered her saying it last year.
    I suspect, at heart, most of us are like this (though certainly more pronounced in the blogging/writer world). I’ve been to many kinds of gatherings, both business and social, and always feel uncertain – insecure, even – going into them. But someone once told me that if I wanted to become something I should act as if I was that already. So I put on a confident face most of the time and, after a while, I become more relaxed and confident.

  22. Suzie, if you haven’t read Quiet by Susan Cain then you must. It will make being an introvert in today’s world a lot less worrisome. I could effuse about it for ages, just read it; if you don’t get anything out of it then let me know an a thousand “mea culpa’s” will pass my ips.

  23. You’re probably an ambivert. Classifying the entire population into either extreme has always bothered me. I’m a very out-going extrovert, but can’t handle huge crowds of people and was terrified before my first podcast. I don’t think it has anything to do with personality type. I think it has to do with the threat of public humiliation. Ha! Glad it went well.

  24. Pingback: Suzie… Speaks! | Suzie Speaks

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