In many ways, I am a tried-and-true extrovert. I always prefer to be around people, I find any excuse to chat with random strangers, and I feel energized after talking to others. However, I also developed social anxiety in my early twenties and started to be more selective with my friends, choosing quality over quantity. With a tighter circle and a crippling fear of feeling awkward at large parties, I have become more of an “introverted extrovert” or “ambivert,” if you will.
Now that I’ve acclimated to working from home, I’ve found that I’m missing out on seeing people and talking to people. While I’m grateful that the amount of awkward interactions have decreased, so have the amount of good interactions, and as someone who craves connection, this simply will not do! The extrovert side is dying to come out again (but you know, not too much, let’s not do anything drastic).
I’ve found that there are some things in particular that I can count on to help feed the extrovert in me without completely frightening the introvert. Here’s my list of things that my ambivert heart finds comfort in!
Games with a premeditated structure
Part of the reason that I don’t consider myself a full extrovert is because I will forego conversations for fear of awkward silences. If I don’t think I can keep up a conversation with someone, oftentimes I’ll steer clear. This makes parties extremely daunting. But never fear! We have Cards Against Humanity to save us!
Video games, board games, card games, or any activities like bowling come with a nice, neat premeditated structure. You’re not expected to be able to keep up conversation the whole time and gameplay allows for the conversation to evolve constantly. Whether you’re cheering a teammate on for bowling a turkey or laughing together about the last round of Apples to Apples, the situation will generate new conversation so you don’t have to!
Yoga (probably any group fitness or meditation, really) is great for an ambivert because you can chat with others before and after class, but class time still has a structure that you have to follow. There’s an instructor who you can count on to fill the silence, so there are words swirling around you even if it’s not a conversation. Recently, my local studio started a “Chat on Your Mat” class where everyone is welcome to come and do yoga but also talk about whatever we want during class. I’ve really enjoyed it so far because it’s such a lovely yoga class where we’re getting all of the benefits of yoga while also fostering a sense of community. Plus, keeping silent during yoga can be painful for extrovert Renata, so I love that I can let her loose!
Just having a friend on the phone
Josh and I, in our very long 6 years of relationship/friendship, have spent many hours on the phone together. He’s always been my go-to phone call when driving in the car or chilling at home feeling bored. As much as I love to hear myself talk, several of those hours were us just hanging out in silence. Hell, as I write this post, we’re on the phone doing our own things just in silent company. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to (even if you’re not actually talking) helps to make you feel less alone and gives you the opportunity to engage in conversation if you want to.
Do things in common areas
I am not the biggest fan of my room, so I’ve always spent time doing all of my activities in the living room of the house. I play video games there, do my puzzles there, and just relax on the couch there. Beyond not enjoying being in my room, I also do this because it allows for conversation with anyone who is walking through the house. If I have a funny joke or meme to share, my audience is closer by. In college, I would routinely drag Julia out of her room to work in the common area of our apartment just to have someone close by, even if we were just working separately on our own things. As an ambivert, utilizing the common areas allows for easy interaction while also maintaining comfort. And don’t forget to put the TV on so you have dialogue constantly pumping through the room!
Small town retail
Really looking to get out in the public and interact with others? Maybe there’s a small coffee shop or bookstore you can work for! Now I’m not talking about a huge Starbucks or Barns & Noble where you’ll be running around too much to relax (unless that’s your thing, no judgment here!). I’m referring to those small stores in small towns where there’s not an unmanageable amount of traffic. When I worked at the college bookstore, I loved it because of the sporadic interaction. I could chat up customers for the 3 minutes that I was ringing them up and then I didn’t have to make any more conversation! Now that I’ve adjusted to working from home, I struggle to get much interaction during my day, so I’m working on getting a part time retail job at a small shop just to give my extroverted side a bit more interaction.
Working from anywhere
Speaking of work, if you’re working remotely, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be chained to your at-home work desk. Working in a communal working space or a coffee shop will guarantee that there is the buzz of people around you, even if you’re not talking to them. Get out of the house and drink all of the caffeine that you want while working where the people are!
Are you an ambivert? What are some of the places/situations that you find to be the most comfortable?