Balancing Life As An Extrovert

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As an extrovert, I get energized by being on-the-g0, interacting with people, and making connections. As an extrovert, I come to life when I am surrounded by my loved ones. But as an extrovert, I often neglect to take time alone to process and rest.

Coming off a conference, weekend house guests, and a half marathon, I feel full and blessed. But being human, I also feel…well…exhausted and a little overwhelmed.

And I am wondering what REALLY will replenish my soul.

Do I continue to surround myself with invigorating people and activities? Or do I risk loneliness by dwelling in solitude?

These are the challenges of balancing life as an extrovert.

Anyone else struggle with finding the right balance as an extrovert? Do introverts face an opposite problem?

PS – Hopefully people will do the trick since solitude is going to have to wait a few weeks as I am headed out of town tomorrow for another conference and on then to Birmingham for a weekend adventure.


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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Oh, I am an introvert and love my alone time. I have to remember I can look anti-social and even rude when I don't want to go with the crowd to do something or I'm in a hurry to get home. It's not that I don't LOVE being with friends. However, in a crowd but sometimes I can feel socially awkward if I don't know the people I'm with. When I'm alone, there is no pressure and I can tick all those things off my never-ending to-do list.
    My recent post TGIF – Stream of consciousness

    • I am not great in BIG groups, my sweet spot is small groups…nothing overwhelming.

  • Balance is always tricky! I remember reading one of the books you guys published, "Finding Your Strongest Life" by Marcus Buckingham, and–if I remember correctly–he mentioned something about NOT balancing. He saying something about purposely leaning in the direction where you feel stronger. Sometimes, I tend to take my activities to the extreme, and when that happens, it either becomes natural or logical for me to go the opposite way. But I think that when we try to keep going back and forth, striving to get the balance, we just end up dizzy and exhausted (I know for sure that I do!). Following Buckingham's principle, I think it just makes sense to not seesaw back and forth all the time, and just allow ourselves to just lean back on one end for just a little bit longer. 🙂 And as I type this, I'm preaching to myself…haha! I was at Catalyst West last week too, and as awesome as it was, I'm still trying to recover. I'm an introvert, go figure! 🙂
    My recent post Catalyst West Labs 2010

    • I completely agree about wanting to live life off-balance….

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  • i’ve found it’s especially hard to live life as an extrovert in rural tanzania.

    i remember transferring from auburn university (large) to a small, christian school in nashville (very small) and the disappointment that met me one day while sitting in the student center. i looked around at all the students in the room and said to myself, “well, these are my friends for the next two years…” i missed so much sharing classes with so many different people (and therefore ideas) and passing students i didn’t know everywhere i went. every conversation could be a new one.

    some days now, in geita, i have that same sinking feeling. the world feels so small, and i get restless. but God is good. and he’s teaching me to enjoy solitude, and quiet, and writing.

  • Aaron Conrad

    Great question Lindsey. I too am an extrovert. As someone who works out of a home office, with no other people in site, it is often a challenge. Until twitter came along, it was just me and these 4 walls I call my office. When twitter came along, it became my cubicle environment and world. It became my community and water cooler. When things happen in my life, I often post them to twitter before I ever tell people that are in close physical proximity. As odd as that is….

  • I've always been an introverted extrovert. I can be in public and extroverted for a limited amount of time before I have to withdraw into myself. I don't think it matters if you're in or out when it comes to balance…I think we all have trouble finding that place. What you should try is experimenting with different things…solitude, more activity, etc. and see where you feel your soul the most refreshed. It might be somewhere or doing something that you would never expect.
    My recent post Blessings on the back side

  • Oh my gosh I have been watching you these last couple of weeks and I'm amazed. You are conquering these weeks with pizazz and flair girl! I am an UBER-introvert. If I'm out for like an hour with a few people, I'm in need of my Jenny-cave. Part of it is social anxiety too I know, but I seriously go mute if I'm in a crowd with a ton of people – not cuz I don't like being around them, but because so many of my brains neurons are firing on overload cuz of all of the conversations and I just don't know what to do! I'm like that cartoon character, "which way do I go, which way do I go?!?" 🙂 Extroverts amaze me… my mom is one. I call her the "butterfly" because she bounces from group to group and is in heaven. I have trained myself to be an extrovert because I was a corporate trainer for 16 years, but even there, I always need my down time, my safe place, my Jenny-cave. For me, I love WATCHING people like you… it brings a smile to my face 🙂
    My recent post Seasons Change

    • Funny knowing you online I would have never guessed that you were an introvert… 🙂

  • I'm an introvert, but don't mind crowds of people as long as I'm still by myself. I can be out with friends but I think there is a part of me that would rather just be at home. The introvert in me though hates having to go up and make conversations with people I don't know. I usually just hang out in the back ground. Allow others (even friends) to approach me and start conversations.

    My recent post Hunted

  • Yes! Introverts go through a similar thing – or at least, I do!

    I enjoy being at home, alone, able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I love that 2 days a week, I can work out of my home office and I don't have to deal with anyone or anything. Those are my favorite days! I love not having a lot of commitments to people and things, and just being able to relax and replenish at my own pace, not leaving the house or answering the phone unless I WANT to. But too much of that, and I start to get really depressed. It's important every now and then, even if I think I don't want to, to force myself to get out and surround myself with people. I'm always glad when I do, but still even more glad to get back home to my refuge from the world!

  • I hate conversations with people I don't know too…sometimes…and sometimes I love it….

  • I bet that is hard…

  • oh my stars yes. the encourager in me extroverts itself because it is my desire to help others not fall into the same holes I have fallen into… thats what pushes me out of my bubble 🙂
    My recent post Seasons Change

  • I'm an off the charts introvert who loves people. Nice conundrum, eh? I was recently on a 5 week trip; the only real solitude I had was while I was sleeping at night—during one week of that trip. I loved it, but was exhausted by it. By week 5 I knew I needed some time to myself in order to enjoy and be useful for the last week. I took off to a cafe for about 4 hours. I read, journaled, stared out the window, drank lots of coffee, and enjoyed not even being able to eavesdrop—my German is limited to identifying cars, asking for sparkling mineral water, and reading limited parts of a menu. I've learned I need to pay attention to my responses and my energy level. When I feel like I have nothing left, it's time to retreat. And if I can't retreat? I pray a lot more. I also know there's a flip side to introversion. I can isolate myself easily. For the most part, I'd rather push the limits of being around people than risk isolation. Thankfully, I've lived long enough to listen to myself and know what I need . . . at least most of the time. 🙂
    My recent post It’s More Than Just Dance

  • My life has always been full of people, but I have my own special place where I live as I walk through time. I carry a continual conversation with God, even when I'm doing something "silly" like playing solitaire on my computer. I'm able to be alone even when I'm in the midst of people, though I do regularly withdraw to the quiet.
    My recent post #40 THE DOING OF LOVING: FORGIVENESS

  • I'm an introvert and I face the opposite dilemma. For me I have to find the balance of engaging with people who aren't necessarily friends. Those who are just acquaintances (not close friends) and those who I simply come in contact with — the store clerk, the post office worker, etc. I tend to close down when I'm in the midst of these interactions and I forget that they may need to see God's love through me. My introverted nature keeps me within myself too much.
    My recent post There are times…

  • As an extrovert (ENFJ for you Myers-Briggs folks), I've found an almost fanatical observance of solitude each week (Mondays for me) is what keeps me grounded and sane. Lots of reading, writing, praying, sleeping, running, and reflecting. Not sure if that works for everyone, but it's indispensable in my life. Of course, I needed years to discover that.

  • I am so with you on this! I have learned that my nights in the hotel are a good feeling to be by myself but then I over do it on the weekend with friends and things to do. I do find that at least 2 nights a week I have to go out to dinner and sit at a bar and pray random people make conversation with me.

    Love you have a great week! cant wait to catch up more!

  • lindsey… i'm an extrovert and battle the same thing. my problem often is i need my home to be in order to feel grounded. i can be running 90 to nothing and remain energized if when i arrive at home it's organized together and relatively clean. problems occur when i'm on the go and things at the house don't get done… then i finally sit down and realize i'm looking at an unorganized pig sty! the first feeling i always battle is the overwhelming feeling to just go and hide under the covers.

  • Wink

    Ummm, YEAH! I am totally the extrovertus maximus, and it is hard to not do anything. BUT, I do realize that a quiet time, alone with God, in prayer, with His word in front of me, and perhaps a pen and paper in hand- that is what helps me realize my real purpose in life. We are here to glorify God in all we do and say. With that awesome perspective, I consider my actions more closely. I edit my speech. And I do love people more and more which enables me to be a more powerful witness and friend. God bless you Lindsey!

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  • I'm exactly like you.. I came here to read the comments and get some advice. Thanks for posing this question, and there are a lot of great comments here! I will use these to my benefit.

  • I've recently had to learn how to be an extrovert. Us realtor types can't afford to be shy! As a result of that, I'm constantly out doing this and doing that; meeting people, trying things, and experiencing life. For that, I am grateful, but at the end of each 12-14 hour day of intense activity, I'm wiped! I try to schedule time for myself in the morning and at night. That's my time for prayer, reflection, and mental planning. That really helps me keep my sanity… Other than that, the occasional hour or two in front of the TV works too!

  • "…The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us (introverts) through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves.* from Caring for your Introvert in The Atlantic (http://tinyurl.com/ykcb89w). That story is such balm to the soul. 😉

    My recent post Remembering the Chernobyl Disaster

  • Reposting the link above, Caring for your Introvert in The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/
    My recent post Remembering the Chernobyl Disaster

  • It can be hard to balance sometimes because I LOVE people. Sometimes I love to be in a room full of folks, mingling and catching up with light conversation. Other times there is nothing I love more than sitting with one or two close friends, digging deep into life. And then there are days like today, when I am perfectly content to sit and listen to the rain, read and write, feeling no need or compulsion to fill the silent spaces with television noise or conversation. At this point in my life, I believe I am definitely an extrovert, but with periodic introverted tendencies. 🙂

    I used to be like the Energizer bunny, always going, going, going and doing, doing, doing. But it seems like the older I get, I do find myself being more intentional about where I choose to invest my time and energy, and how I choose to recharge my extroverted batteries, and how that looks in each season of my life. There is a balance, it just seems to be ever changing as life changes. I'm still trying to find the rhythm.

    My recent post This Guy

  • i struggle with this, but in reverse. although i'm an introvert, i love people and relationships. i crave spending time with those i love. but i still need stretches of solitude. i need gaps of time where i can get alone with my heart and process what's going on inside.

    i'm a couple weeks into my fundraising trip. and while 95% of my time has been spent with people i absolutely adore, i am wiped out from it. i'm nearing breaking point i think… and it's not gonna be pretty.

    speaking of… thank you for inviting me into the busyness of your schedule this past month. i so appreciated the time i got to spend with you! i'm grateful for your friendship.