The classic way to test if you are an introvert or extrovert is whether being around other people drains you or energizes you. You can still enjoy seeing people but be drained from it. And even introverts have certain people that they are comfortable enough around that it doesn’t trigger the draining effect.
I always assumed I was an introvert.
Throughout my twenties I found that I was overwhelmed by large crowds and big parties. I hated going out to clubs or anything like that because it was loud and crowded.
As a kid I played by myself a lot. I was an only child until I was four and a half years old.
Being around people drained my energy right up until around when I turned 30. Then something changed. That something wasn’t my basic nature, but my own behavior.
Around when I turned 30 I became more comfortable and secure in who I am. The insecurities of my 20s melted away. I stopped worrying about what other people were thinking about me, I stopped worrying that people secretly hated me. It just seemed like such a waste of my energy. I made the decision to just assume that if people were spending time with me it was because they wanted to and not to over analyze that.
And then I noticed that I loved being around groups of friends. I wanted to be surrounded by people and meeting new people. My board game group began to expand because I invited everyone I met to come and join. I started to notice that days when I didn’t see anyone made me antsy and unhappy. Part of that may be because I’m now a stay-at-home mom so if I don’t actively go out to see people then I can go days without seeing anyone other than my husband and baby.But I came to see that a bigger part of it was that I was no longer monitoring how I was coming across to people. I realized that in my 20s I was putting on a front, trying to make sure that I wasn’t too “out there”, wasn’t too weird. I had on a mask.
Once I let go of that mask and just let myself be myself, suddenly I loved being around people. I was energized from seeing people!
I realized that I was an extrovert! Which I never would have suspected ever before.
I appeared to be an introvert because of the draining nature of pretending to be “normal.” Pretending to be something I wasn’t. As soon as I let that go, a lot of good things came into my life. And realizing that I’m actually an extrovert is not necessarily a “good” thing (i.e., there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert!) but I’m just so much more comfortable with myself that it’s been a good thing for me.
My conclusion is that you can’t know who you are until you stop putting up a false front around other people.