I am an extrovert. I am outgoing and have a big personality. I typically draw people in and love the attention this brings me. I am always seen as the one who knows how to have a good time.
I also have social anxiety. The thought of interacting with other people scares me. I enter a new social situation and start to panic. I am nervous even thinking about meeting new people or being in a large crowd.
You're probably wondering how these two personality traits coexist. How could someone love being the life of the party and also be terrified of meeting new people? It doesn't seem possible that I could be both an extrovert and socially anxious, but I am and so are a lot of people. These two traits contradict each other and create a never-ending battle in my mind which is completely exhausting.
When I wake up in the morning, I feel ready to take on the day. I get up, I get dressed and I head out the door, ready to get stuff done. Then I remember the interactions I am going to have with so many different people throughout the day. I think of all the people I am going to accidentally bump into and have to say sorry to. I think of all the acquaintances I am going to walk past and have to wave or say hi to. These are all things that stress me out, while at the same time I can't wait to get out there and have a great day.
When I get put in the situation of meeting new people, I have to make a conscious effort to be an extrovert before I am someone with social anxiety. I put all of my energy into making sure I meet them with a smile on my face and a lot of positivity. As terrified as I am of meeting them, you would never know it in our initial conversation. I exhaust myself because I refuse to let my anxiety win and prevent me from meeting new people.
Sometimes, I cancel plans because I don't want to socialize. Then I sit in my room feeling lonely because I am by myself with no one to draw my energy from. I wish I went out and just tried to have fun, but I know if I went out I would be wishing to be home in bed. I find myself most comfortable when I am at home with a close friend or two. I can be outgoing and goofy with them, without the fear of being judged. I can be an extrovert without letting social anxiety take over because I am not anxious around close friends.
I'll have a forty-five-minute conversation with someone with no problems at all. Then I'll sit at home for three hours analyzing everything I said trying to figure out what they thought. I think about every single word I said, every single facial expression they made, and everything in between. I convince myself the conversation was negative for them, but they felt bad for me and wouldn't end it. They were only talking to me out of pity.
These are just a few things that happen to me on a daily basis. I struggle to find a balance between being extroverted and being anxious. It's one of those funny contradictory things that doesn't make sense, yet still exists. I do my best to be outgoing and fun-loving in every situation, no matter the circumstances. This is something that isn't always easy but I refuse to let my anxiety stop me from living my best life.