Being an Extroverted Introvert

I believe there are many kinds of people and that you’ve met all of them at least once in your life. On the first day of school everyone’s a mystery, everyone has their own stories and their own personality. It’s hard, on that first day, to pick out who is who, to decide who you’ll be friends with this school year, but if you’re still fresh out of school like me you can distinctly remember those characters traits that defined your peers.

There’s the class clown, the really smart kid, the shy girl who never speaks in class yet always manages to get called on, the best friends who giggle and laugh as no one else can hear them, etc. I can go on.

It took me a long time to figure out who I was in the classroom, was I the class clown? Was I the smart girl who everyone secretly hated because she always messed up the grade curve? Finding my place in my classroom meant a lot to me for so long. Even now that I’m older, I still find myself sizing my classmates up.

I could be the class clown, I always finished my work early and when I was bored I liked to talk. I could be the really smart girl, I’ve read about five years above my grade level since the first grade. School has never been all that difficult for me. I’d coast and play around with my friends while doing the bare minimum and still getting B’s. I was loud and out there about my opinions. I was the student always getting into arguments with teachers because I couldn’t resist being a smart ass.

I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done growing up. I do wish I had been a bit more considerate to the teachers I tormented and the students I distracted, but it’s in the past and all I can do is look to the future. I do, however, wish that my behavior hadn’t made everyone who met me get the wrong idea about my character. You can only make a first impression once, and I always managed to make a complete fool of myself in front of everyone I met.

Mostly, because I was shy. I spent most of my childhood surrounded by my family. My best friend was my cousin, I didn’t really like playing outdoors too much so I wasn’t friends with many kids in the neighborhood, and I was so spoiled as a kid that I don’t blame the other children for not wanting to play with me.

Whenever I was put in a situation where I didn’t know anyone or I didn’t know the layout, I’d try to pretend that I didn’t care about anything. I’d make jokes full of false bravado about how much I just don’t care about school or what people think of me. Then I’d turn around and let my “friends” treat me anyway they wanted because I was too scared to be by myself while at school.

As I grew older, I started to turn more and more into myself. I moved my junior year of high school to a new city and a new school, and I spent the subsequent nine months having panic attacks and missing school because I was so sick from anxiety. I wasn’t family with my city at first, and while I jumped at the chance to explore it with friends, I worried constantly that the people I was with didn’t really like me. Which would in turn make me dread leaving the house for any period of time. Which made me turn further inward.

It got to the point that I would go to school, put on this face of confidence and be a clown for my friends, and then I’d come home and nap because I was so exhausted. The stress from my anxiety exhausted me, being surrounded by people exhausted me, the fact that school had actually become difficult for once exhausted me. I found myself drawing so far into myself that I would lock myself in my room for hours, only coming out for food and to go the bathroom.

I hated living that way but that’s the only way I could. I couldn’t just stop being exhausted by talking to people. I didn’t know why I was so exhausted either. It was a really turbulent time in my life. Even now, I still feel exhausted every time I’m around people for long periods of time.

If you have felt just like this at some point, feel free to leave me a comment and talk about your experiences. It’s an awful feeling, wanting to connect with people and just not having the energy for it, tell me how you handle it.

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