As an extroverted introvert, I often end up in these vicious cycles of sacrificing parts of my well-being for the sake of satisfying my spontaneous cravings for social interaction as well as my need to be a supportive and harmonious friend. My moods are not always predictable due to my sensitivities, as there are times when my extrovert/introvert can take the helm for the most whimsical, unexpected reasons. It is then that I have the choice whether to indulge the energy that is naturally manifested within me (and thus catering to my emotional needs) or ignore it, and the reason I would usually be driven to ignore it is due to other people. Being loyal to a fault, deeply empathetic, and especially wary of conflict makes me susceptible to engaging in unhealthy types and/or amounts of people-pleasing behavior. I will often stifle my own needs and desires with the idea that I will earn some sort of emotional payoff for my sacrifice. I try affirming myself with the idea that my intentions are altruistic, the people I am engaging with are worthy, and that I will ultimately feel good about catering to someone else. But when I’m caught up in the moment of a friend asking something of me, I easily become too focused on their thoughts and feelings instead of evaluating my own internal status on the situation.
Sometimes it is the overwhelming sense of obligation that drives me, and other times it is the fear of being perceived as uncaring or selfish, two traits that I am definitely not and the accusation of which would cause me great strife. One of the hardest things I’ve had to convince myself of is that it is completely okay to put my well-being first and not feel narcissistic for doing so. I have begun asking myself why I am doing something for someone else, and whether or not the interaction will prove something beneficial or if it is done out of a sense of duty or guilt.
I have great faith in the elasticity of my heart. I know that I am, at this point in my life, strong and wise enough to persevere in ways that some of the people I know can’t. However, at times I am disheartened by my high self-awareness, in part because it is rarely shared with the people I meet: people who my extrovert is quick to fawn over while my introvert calculates their true value in my life.
I have watched people handle their social life like a switchboard, making quick decisions and not lingering on the diverse after-effects of them. They just do things and do not worry or dwell, and it sometimes makes me envious, but these are the same people who are more liable to hurting others, even when it’s unintentional.
Making people happy is one of the things that brings me unparalleled joy, but when I settle in and realize that I am usually the one to give more than I get, that joy can give way to sorrow or isolation. I must recognize that the most valuable people in my life—my family, my companion, and my dearest friends—will seldom leave me feeling like I am missing something; like I am a wilting flower trying to tend to the garden around me. These are the people who I should focus my energy on, and the rest I should regard with appreciation when appropriate and not give out the very breadth of my being. Those whose energy resonates with mine will humbly understand my nature, while others—who I’ve given my engagement to—will expect consistency without paying it forward and may be inclined to feel shorted or abandoned, thus igniting a sense of guilt that I do not deserve.
So, I will continue to exercise introspection and self-awareness. I will treat my soul to a healthy balance of introversion and extroversion as well as the presence of those who bring fulfillment to my heart—no matter what level of sociability I am operating on.