Is it possible for an introvert to become an extrovert? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-12-2007, 01:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm tired of being an introvert.

When I go to home school events, I get so sad and frustrated because I don't know how to talk. I've known many of the moms for years, but few relationships have gone beyond aquaintance. One of them is my best friend. When she and I are one on one, I have no problem talking to her. Mainly, I think, because she is so friendly and open. But, when I am in the group, I just end up watching the other women talk. They seem so free and easy about it. I feel like I am interrupting if I say something. I listen to them to try and figure out how to have a conversation. I haven't been successful.

Part of my problem is my upbringing. I was never allowed to ask people questions. I was taught to never ask non-family members for help. If a friend of the family offered to do something for me or take me along on an activity, I was not allowed to accept.

I feel like I need to go to "Charm School". Does anyone know how to become an extrovert?

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Old 10-12-2007, 08:44 AM
 
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I often feel the same way so I don't really have advice for you. I also go to events where I see people I have "known" for years yet I feel so uncomfortable. I can stop and say hi and chat a bit if I run into someone coming or going but I do feel like the odd man out at dd's soccer practice and such. I also think my upbringing is part of it. My mother was they type to speak for me so I never learned to be comfortable talking to people, asking for help etc. The sad thing is that I notice my kids struggle to interact as well.

I don't know that you can change your personality, but I hope some others will have tips on how to be more comfortable with others. I have a a good friend who is very extroverted has lots of other friends (all of whom are acquaintances of mine) - and while I don't expect to be just like her I would love to learn how to be at ease with people the way she is!
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:58 AM
 
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Heck, I'd settle for being able to realistically fake it at this point, if only to make social situations more bearable. *sigh*

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Old 10-12-2007, 10:11 AM
 
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I think you can. Fake it, and eventually you will discover that it's ok to be more outgoing in social situations, you will get positive response from people and therefore gradually overcome your fears and discomfort, and you will get used to being more extrovert!

Fake it till you make it!
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:16 AM
 
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I have always thought of myself as an introvert and shy. However, as an adult I refered to myself as and introvert and a friend told me I wasn't. So, somehow, I became an extrovert. I think one of the things that did it was living in Costa Rica for a while. Once I learned Spanish, and how to express myself in Spanish, speaking up in English became much easier. So, go live in another country for a while!
Or maybe a toastmasters club? Isn't that supposed to make youa better public speaker. I think the key is practice, practice, practice.
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:11 PM
 
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Yes.
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:38 PM
 
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Ive been trying for years and it hasnt gotten even remotely easier.

A relative said she used to be the same way and changed into a public speaker. Im not entirely sure I believe she was ever introverted.
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MelKnee View Post
I feel like I am interrupting if I say something.
Your whole post describes exactly how I feel in social situations. I even have trouble breaking into the conversation in very small groups. For example, I was at a meeting with 3 other women a couple of weeks ago. I had things I wanted to say many times, but one woman was dominating the conversation. I am a thinker, and I need some time before I speak. Even when conversing easily with my husband, I typically pause a few seconds before I respond. So at this meeting where there was literally never a pause, I simply could not break in. The only way to do so would've been to talk over the other woman. When I do this, I get flustered, and it feels incredibly rude. So anyway, I'm right there with you. Maybe we'll always just be known as good listeners
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Old 10-12-2007, 01:28 PM
 
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I used to be decidedly introverted. Now, I'm a healthy mix of introvert and extrovert, leaning heavily on the extrovert side.

I think what happened was that in my youth, I wasn't encouraged by family to open up and explore my ideas. I was encouraged to listen to and obey my parents' ideas. Once I was finally comfy in my own skin (at around age 30), I was able to be as vocal or as quiet as I wanted to be, instead of being scared in social situations.

The greatest thing about life, IMO, is that we can reinvent ourselves anytime we want. I wish you luck on your journey!

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Old 10-12-2007, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone!
I'm going to "fake it until I make it". I just have to do it. I can do it.
to those in the same boat.

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Old 10-13-2007, 12:45 AM
 
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I was also very introverted when i was younger. i guess now, i live far away from my family, and i get tired of just talking to my kids(my dh is always at school) so i make myself go to playdates and see people even if i don't feel like it. then i make myself talk when i am there. and i guess my attitude is that we are only going to be living where we are for another year, so i don't care what these people think of me, i am doing this to learn and grow and challenge myself. it has worked, i feel more comfortable talking more, and i feel like i have a lot of interesting things to say. sometimes it helps me to talk about factual stuff(news, politics, books, etc) instead of "chit chat". just don't be too hard on yourself.
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Old 10-14-2007, 06:20 AM
 
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It's possible.

I was extremely introverted as a child and young adult. I forced myself into uncomfortable situations in order to grow. I'm glad you've decided to "fake it 'till you make it." Some people are just naturally shy, and others are shy because they don't have the tools to go beyond what they find safe. Neither one is wrong, but if you want to change, it is possible.
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Old 10-14-2007, 02:28 PM
 
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I'm an introvert, too, and I'm just now starting to embrace it insteading of thinking that it's something wrong with me that I have to overcome. May I suggest reading the book "The Introvert Advantage"...it really helped me to see that this is just how I am, and I can't simply become an extrovert when that's not how I'm "wired." The book also goes into the difference between being an introvert and being shy - they aren't the same thing at all. Although I'm an introvert, I'm perfectly capable of being social, engaging in small talk, meeting new people and having conversations with them, etc. I'm just not energized by those things, and I need to have alone time to get my energy back. And that's okay! I've started to see being an introvert as something that I need to nurture in myself and not try to "fix"....kind of like someone who has curly hair not trying to make it straight anymore. But there are times when I feel that I'm not being as social as I need to be, and then I make the effort to get 'out there' a little more, although that's not always easy. It is all about balance, though.
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Old 10-14-2007, 11:05 PM
 
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I was so shy until I got a job as a hostess at a bar in college. It really helped me to learn how to do small talk and chat people up because we had to be nice and friendly or the "secret shoppers" would give us a bad score. I used to have a shot or 2 before work to loosen me up when I first started, but I didn't need to do that very long, just to get over my initial awkwardness. It was immersion therapy I guess...

I pretty soon figured out that people are just people and LOVE talking about themselves so as long as you ask questions and get people talking it's easy to keep a conversation going.

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Old 10-15-2007, 04:12 AM
 
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I've heard about celebrities who put on different "personas" when it's time for them to "be" a celebrity ... I think Beyonce even has a different name for herself when she's performing.

I've heard a good way to fake it is to "create" the person you want to be (or use a celebrity as a model) and then act as that person would when you want to be more extroverted. It's a form of visual imagery.

So, for example, if I was Madonna, I'd walk with my head high and I'd expect everyone to look at me - amazed - when I walked in. I'd smile, and say "hi" like everyone wanted to get to know me, etc.

The confidence you eminate should have some sort of effect, and if you do anything for long enough, it becomes habit.

Good luck!
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:27 AM
 
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I'm an introvert who has masqueraded as an extrovert all her life, and I've made a mess of it.

I'm ready to just be an introvert.

Just be yourself.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:27 PM
 
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I'm an introvert and very happy that way (finally). Most social situations don't phase me now, because I realise I have a lot to offer just by being a good listener and being genuinely interested in people. You don't have to be a big personality - just yourself. I work part time in sales and I love it, now that I've figured out how to be myself and sell. Not everyone wants to deal with an outgoing persona. Sometimes people just want to be listened to, really listened to. And that's where it's helpful to be a quieter person, I've found. People respond when they feel that genuine interest.

Maybe next time you're in a social situation, concentrate on the other people around you and what's going on for them. I suspect part of your problem might be that you are thinking about yourself too much (and I don't mean that in a bad way) you know - worrying about how you're coming across, how to make conversation, etc. Trying to 'be like an extravert' will just make it worse imo.

And one more thing. I think this culture has done a great disservice to people like us by saying extravert = good with people/social situations and introvert = nerdy quiet shy person. I dont' think that's true at all. We just have different ways of dealing with people - and, like another poster said, we don't get energized by people the same way ex's do, but it doesn't mean we can't get on with and work with others as well as ex's do. So many introverts feel bad about themselves, and it makes me sad.
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Old 10-16-2007, 11:58 PM
 
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I've been an introvert all my life. I hardly say anything to people in social situations.

It's possible but like others mentioned, just be yourself.
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Old 10-20-2007, 01:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbitmum View Post
I think you can. Fake it, and eventually you will discover that it's ok to be more outgoing in social situations, you will get positive response from people and therefore gradually overcome your fears and discomfort, and you will get used to being more extrovert!

Fake it till you make it!


I'm not sure your temperament can actually change--you make always feel kind of shy, but speaking out is a skill and can be learned and you can gain more comfort with it through practice.

I was super shy and had no confidence in myself until after college. I NEVER spoke in classes, and if a professor called on me or I had to do a presentation I could feel my heart pounding in my chest--I was terrified! But with the encouragement of a couple supportive mentors I started venturing out more--speaking in public and realizing that I did have thoughts worth contributing (and that people did not pick apart everything I said). Then in grad school I won a teaching assistanceship and over the semesters I became more and more comfortable speaking out. Although I will still feel shy in new situations, once I warm up I often don't hesitate to speak my mind.

The more you put yourself out there (with supportive folks to cheer you on) in time you will feel better about it. But you may always feel shy at first, and that's ok!
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Old 10-20-2007, 02:50 PM
 
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The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child talks about the difficulty that an introvert has in a predominately extroverted world. I don't know if there is an adult companion to this, but they do speak of introversion/extroversion not just an either-or choice, but a scale and people fall into somewhere along that scale.

And rather than thinking your introversion is a negative thing, read the book to see all the wonderful things that you have to offer (I don't the book in my hands and I don't want to paraphrase things too much and get them wrong). Even if there isn't an adult book similar to this, you can still get much out of it.

AFA friends go, the introvert usually prefers 1 or 2 really close friends over a vast number of acquantainces. And that is totally okay.

But you may not be dealing with simple introversion/extroversion traits. You could be an introvert who is also highly sensitive. This is where try as you might want to incorporate yourself into the middle of things, the very things you want also overwhelm you.

Try taking the test here
http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test.htm

There is the Highly Sensitive Person book and workbook to do if you find yourself an HSC. And yes, you can be both introverted and extroverted and still be an HSC. Maybe you might find clues as to why you are having difficulties making a change.

I'm in the middle of discovering things about myself and about my spirited dd who is both a HSC and an introvert on the extreme end. I didn't realize how much until she started preschool and has trouble feeling comfortable even though she has been there a month and a half (she goes 2 days/week). She wants to make friends, she just isn't comfortable around them. She also has trouble participating in the group activities, but does just fine when it's just her or her and her teacher.

At home, you'd never guess she was an introvert, because she does just fine with the children she knows very well.

I too am an introverted HSC, but I've learned ways of compensating for them over time (I'm 37) and through my careers. I've had to come forth past my safety zone or get fired. So I adapted.

Accept your past for what it was, a crummy situation that need not predominate your current life. My family always discounted my feelings, sending me to "go read a book" because they hated my questions. I didn't stop asking though.

Learn as much as you can about your personality, learn to like the gifts you do have, and you will find tools you need to come out of your safety zone. Don't let people walk over you. Be persistent. When the next available opening comes up, if you felt you didn't finish, "as I was saying before..." so that you kind of key them into the fact that you weren't done speaking or had something to add.

And so what if you are interrupting something? That doesn't mean you don't have anything useful to add.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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Old 10-20-2007, 11:53 PM
 
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You could go to college and get wasted before every major social situation. :

That did it for me!!!

ps- My problem was excessive shyness, not being an introvert.

Busy mom and loving it... dd (2/03), ds (6/05), dd (8/07), ds (12/09), ??? due 5/12

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Old 10-21-2007, 03:46 AM
 
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3 years ago I scored 19/20 toward the introverted side on the Briggs/Myers assessment. Although I don't think I'll ever be a true extrovert, I've developed a lot of social skills over the past three years.

Basically, I've forced myself to speak up with other people, to make phone calls, to focus on other people, to try to remember things about them. It's uncomfortable at first, but it does get easier.

Bobbie
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Old 10-21-2007, 02:19 PM
 
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I just wanted to point out the difference between "shy" and "introvert". When you're an introvert you don't necessarily have problems in social situations, but social interaction is sort of draining. You feel like you have to rest and relax and get some alone time after a party. For an extravert the party IS the relaxation time - relaxing over a few drinks or board games or whatever you do with friends. After a hard day is your instinct to seek people out, or is it to curl up with a good book? How do you feel about alone time vs. social time? I'm an introvert but I'm pretty talkative in social situations. But I feel drained and put upon if I don't get enough of a break from people.

Shyness is different. That's where you're not sure what to do in social situations. What has helped me is to sort of rehearse conversations in my head, so I know what to do when situations come up. I started by observing what other people do, then I just tried to mimic them. If you feel like you would be interrupting, I'd say go ahead and interrupt once or twice and sort of observe the reaction. If everybody listens and is interested in what you're saying, you're not interrupting! If you get a negative reaction you should try to figure out what you're doing wrong.

If you have one or two good friends you can ask them to tell you honestly what they think you do differently.

Of course, ymmv - these are the things that worked for me.

Mom to a little boy (June 2009)
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:09 AM
 
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Just wanted to chime in and agree with songbird and others who've pointed out that introversion does not equal shy. It's more about whether socialising vs quiet time energises you.

And I second lemongrass' suggestion - I, too, read "The Introvert Advantage", some years ago, and I nearly cried, it described me to a tee. When I was younger, I thought I was socially awkward and hopeless, but this book made me feel that I'm actually perfectly alright, and don't need to change who I am to be socially active and make friends.

I have found since I've accepted my introversion, I have had more confidence to try new social activities, and have actually enjoyed them (then come home and had a cuppa and read!).

Good suggestions everyone. To the OP, I'm sure you are fine as you are.
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Old 10-28-2007, 12:39 AM
 
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I think with time you can. I know I have. I had to force myself at first to talk to people and often felt weird because I didn't know what to say. But with practice it got easier and once I got to know people I started to open up. Now I'm the one talking to 'strangers'. Something I never thought I'd be able to do!
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Old 10-29-2007, 12:22 AM
 
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I've been reading "Raising Your Spirited Child", and her description of introverts/extroverts has changed my way of thinking about it. I've always felt similarly to the original poster – uncomfortable in social situations, don't know how to join in the conversation, always feeling excluded and shy – so I have always assumed I was introverted. But in this book, she describes introverts as getting their batteries recharged by being alone, and extroverts as getting recharged by connecting with people. This description makes me think I'm an extrovert who never learned good social skills, because I realized I do feel more energized and happier when I've had interactions with other people.

That said, I actually think it's all a spectrum, not an either/or thing. If I never got time to myself I'd run out of energy too, but in a different way. This new way of looking at it has given me a little more optimism about connecting with people in social situations. Somehow if I see it as something I do to fulfill a basic need in myself it's a little easier to be brave and join in, and the simple change from thinking "i'm an introvert" to "I'm an extrovert" makes me feel like it's ok for me to reach out to people a little more.
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Old 10-30-2007, 12:01 AM
 
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You could start selling Avon. Seriously.

You have to knock on doors to introduce yourself to potential customers and give them your brochure.

It works. That's how I did it over time.
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Old 11-10-2007, 07:51 PM
 
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I think it is possible, if you would be doing something that you are passionate about and thusly would be surrounded by people that share your interests, it will all come naturally
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