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Endangered Species

An Extrovert Living in an Introverted World

Photo credit: Anca Luchit for Unsplash

“Once I get home and take off my pants, that’s it. I’m not putting them back on until the morning. Sometimes I don’t even make it to my room before I take them off.”
“If I agree to do something more than a day ahead of time, there is a 90% chance I will cancel.”
“I don’t want to go outside. There are people there.”

These are just a few of the sentiments that I see or hear at least once, every. Single. Day. And I don’t get it. I can’t relate to any of it.

I am part of what seems to be an endangered species. I am an extrovert living in an increasingly introverted world and the more I listen to the things my introverted friends say, the more isolated I feel. The more I feel like I’m the one who doesn’t make sense. The more I feel like being an extrovert is something to be ashamed of.

And internet culture perpetuates this. Social media is saturated with “why it’s great to be an introvert,” but never “why it’s great to be an extrovert,” implying that introverts are somehow superior.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with being introverted. There is nothing wrong with enjoying time to yourself to read, to watch movies, or work on art projects. There is nothing wrong with favoring a small intimate group of close friends over 100 acquaintances.

I found an Oatmeal-esque cartoon pie chart that described how introverts make friends. It was something like 10% are people they meet in social groups (work, classes, clubs) and 90% are extroverts who liked them and adopted them. Even as an extrovert – or maybe more – I relate to this because I do have so many introverted friends and this cartoon serves as a functional explanation of why.

I travel the world, taking adorable introverts under my wing.

The problem comes when the extrovert wants to do things but has no other extroverted people to do them with. In this case, we must rely on people whose general philosophy in life is “the fewer, the merrier; and one is pure bliss.”

So, we make plans. Because we are outgoing, adventurous people and if we don’t have firm plans, we might stumble upon a new adventure instead.

So, we make plans.

“Hey, Introverted Friend, would you do me the honor of stepping outside of your comfort zone on Friday to join me at the new restaurant that is also an arcade because it sounds like it would be fun and I would enjoy your company.”

“Yes, Extroverted Friend, I will step outside of my comfort zone because you often sit quietly with me for hours.”

But then, Friday rolls around and this happens:

“Hello, Extroverted Friend? I know we were going to go to the new restaurant that is also an arcade but I have had too many people today and need to stay home. Alone. Maybe we’ll get together later.”

I don’t mean to shame anyone who has done this. I get it. We get it. When too much human interaction drains your batteries, you don’t want to go in search of more human interaction. But just because we understand and sympathize doesn’t mean we empathize or relate.

As an extrovert, being alone for too long makes me tired – at best – and crabby – at worst. I imagine this is the same way introverts feel in the opposite situations. But going out, to a bar, a concert, even just people watching at the mall, energizes me. If I am in a place where there is constantly something going on, people to see, things to do, I can – and have – function on just a few hours of sleep.

In a house full of friends, gathered for a music festival, I spent five nights going to bed after sunrise (approximately 7am) and waking up for the day between 9 and 10. In a hotel just off Times Square, my nights ended at 5am and I forced myself to sleep until 10. Just knowing there was activity outside my window made me want to be part of it.

So, you better believe that the removal of my trousers at the “end” of the day is never – almost never, like 98% never – a done deal. Those trousers go on the same way they came off and I’ll be ready to go again. And in the 2% of the cases where I decide that “I’ve taken off my pants; I am not going anywhere,” probably half of those have nothing to do with trousers and everything to do with not wanting to go to your sister’s boss’ jewelry or kitchen gadget party. But I don’t want to tell you that so I use the trousers excuse that has become so common.

But I do understand. I don’t like it but I understand. And more often than not, if you are an introverted person who would rather stay in than be around even more people after a long day of people, I will stay in with you. In the interest of full disclosure, I will be disappointed but I will stay in with you.

If you never make the same concession for me, however, and I am always the one that stays in when I really want to go out, I will, unfortunately, start to resent you. Sooner or later, I will seek out new people who join me on adventures but eventually insist on sequestering me from the world. Or I’ll give up altogether and just do what I want to do by myself. Which also isn’t the ideal situation because I truly want a friend with whom I can share exciting – or even mundane – adventures and experiences. But I’d rather experience it alone than miss out because no one else wants to be included.

All because, if you believe the internet reports, I am an endangered species.

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