My Extrovert Struggles
As a highly extroverted individual, I have had my fair share of extrovert struggles.
It’s true that I often feel energised and inspired just by talking to people. I’ve always been thankful for my ability to thrive in social situations.
However, as much as I wish dealing with people is a breeze for me, it definitely isn’t.
While popular culture romanticises the idea of introversion and perpetuates the stereotype that introverts are the more vulnerable bunch of the lot, extroverts like myself struggle to live up to society’s expectations of how we ought to be confident and happy all the time.
It’s as if people forget that we, too, are human beings who have our own set of struggles and insecurities.
1. Being expressive makes me seem like a rebel
Since I was little, I’ve always been unafraid of voicing my opinions even if they seem unpopular. Sadly, this doesn’t sit well in a traditional Asian household, where speaking up against adults makes you seem like an uncouth and obnoxious kid.
Growing up, I was constantly compared to my sister—an introvert who mostly kept to herself. She was less chatty and was often awkward in social situations. That led to my relatives assuming that she’s the more reserved and therefore more obedient sibling. On the other hand, I was assumed to be the rebel who would typically shoot my mouth off and was more likely to defy my parents.
2. Dealing with FOMO and loneliness
While I do enjoy having some occasional alone time, I dread doing many things without company, like eating alone in public places.
In JC, I studied alone most of the time because studying with my friends often resulted in us being distracted and unproductive.
The lack of interaction with my peers during the period leading up to the A-levels made me particularly emotional. Watching IG stories of my friends hanging out and studying together intensified my loneliness and FOMO.
Given that I’ve always required social interaction to feel recharged and at ease, I became a lot grumpier and had intense mood swings. My energy level subsequently plummeted to an all-time low and I found myself lacking the motivation and drive to study.
Yet, my parents and peers simply associated this with my inability to manage stress well.
3. Getting judged for speaking up and asking questions
In school, students are always encouraged to ask questions—just not stupid ones.
I remember being chided by teachers and laughed at by my classmates for clarifying my seemingly silly doubts.
“Use your common sense lah!” was the response I got to some of my questions.
Over the years, from being a student who never hesitated to clarify my doubts in class, I gradually became one who’d think through my questions thoroughly before raising them. I also contributed less to class discussions, because of my irrational fear of being judged for the things I say and coming off as overbearing to my peers.
4. Not being allowed to feel sad
Unlike introverts who get a convenient pass on their bad days, I’m expected to be happy and bubbly all the time. And when I’m not, people tend to accuse me of being cranky. Or they assume that I’m throwing a fit as a means of drawing attention to myself.
Being an extrovert doesn’t mean I’m emotionally bulletproof. I’m only human, and I’ve every right to express my feelings openly without having to explain why I’m behaving in a certain manner.
5. Expected to be comfortable with making small talk
“Since you’re so friendly, why don’t you go talk to him/her?”
“Don’t act shy lah.”
I get this a lot, where I’m expected to break the ice when someone new comes along. People assume that just because I’m an extrovert, I’m an expert at making conversation and capable of dealing with awkward silences.
But the truth is, nobody likes making small talk.
It’s equally draining to extroverts like myself as it is to introverts. The onus should not be on us to think of new topics to talk about. I may be sociable but I’ve my fair share of insecurities as well, and will not always be comfortable speaking to strangers.
6. Accused of being needy and attention-seeking
Just like how introverts require solitude and alone time, socialising is more of a need than a want for me.
Coincidentally, I’m a Leo, the zodiac sign that thrives on social interactions. Connecting with people helps to recharge my mental and emotional batteries, making me feel alive, happier and more rejuvenated.
Alas, not many can empathise with this. People often assume that I crave company because I don’t want to be seen alone, or that I’m just attention-seeking. My parents have even ticked me off for being overly needy, claiming that I need to learn to be independent.
Learning to overcome these extrovert struggles
These are some unspoken woes of being an extrovert, the struggles of being an outgoing Leo in a world that celebrates people who like to stay at home with their cats.
Although I might still come off as a needy and overbearing extrovert to some, I’ve learnt that it’s impossible to please everyone. Only when I stop trying to seek the approval of others, will I be truly happy and find peace within myself.