We often encounter a misleading stereotype about Extraverts: talkative, party-loving individuals who travel in herds. Such a description matches only a few Extravert profiles such as the ESFP (The Performer) or ESTP (The Dynamo). The truth is many Extraverts have jobs or home lives that are rather isolating, and it severely drains their energy levels. If you’re an Extravert, maybe you can relate to some of these situations.
Perhaps you finally leased your own one-bedroom apartment. Sure you have to singlehandedly cover the utility bills, but no more sharing quadrants of the fridge with roommates. In addition, you got promoted. Now you’re basking in your own office like Melanie Griffith in the final scene of Working Girl. A proper landline telephone sits to your right—and if you were born after 1994, you’ll have to figure out how to use it. You feel like you should be super excited. Then it hits you.
You’re an Extravert…and you’ve just signed, leased, and entered a highly secluded way of living.
Your daily work perhaps consists of you and a computer, and you go home to work emails and last week’s leftovers because you could never master the cooking-for-one ratio after living with other humans. As you begin to feel increasingly drained, allow me to introduce you to an Extravert Survival Guide for the low-social-interaction periods of life.
1. Eat lunch with a co-worker you know
You’re too busy to step outside the office for lunch. If I had a dime for every time I heard or said that myself, I wouldn’t have to expense my travel meals. (But I still would, because it’s a fun perk.) However, let’s zoom out and look at your personal productivity like a supply chain. For Extraverts, prolonged solitude bogs down efficiency, productivity, and creativity. Want to remove the bottleneck from your supply chain? Spend time with co-workers outside your office. If you really need to focus on work, try collaborating on a project with them. You get a fresh perspective on work and an interesting conversation to fuel you for the rest of the day.
2. Join a group fitness class
Contrary to popular thought (or just my own thoughts), group fitness classes don’t actually look like low-res Jane Fonda workout tapes from 1982. Whether it’s to your relief or dismay, fitness classes are casual ways to exercise and interact with people. You might not strike up a conversation with anyone, but remember Extraverts don’t necessarily have to talk with others to recharge. Simply being around other human beings recharges their batteries. If you use the bikes at the gym, try a spin class. If you follow yoga tutorials on YouTube, check out a yoga class. They’re easy add-ins to a healthy Extravert regime.
3. Volunteer for group-related activities
If you enjoy volunteering, you have ample opportunity to connect with individuals who are passionate about the same causes you are. I know people who met their best friends and future spouses while volunteering for hunger relief and crisis intervention. Your salaried job might be a one-man operation, but serving the community doesn’t have to be. Besides it’s rewarding to channel some Extravert energy towards the greater good.
4. Call your old friends
If you move away for work or school, life can be especially isolating at first. However, your excess alone time gives you the opportunity to Skype old friends and family. We often let our long-distance friendships fade because we’re too busy cultivating new relationships during our free time. However, your situation allows you to easily maintain old relationships even if you don’t see them every day. “Make new friends, but keep the old. Those are silver, these are gold.” Sensitive and intelligent man that Joseph Parry.
5. Discover how awesome time to yourself is
If you’re flying solo for the first time ever, the Universe is presenting you with an opportunity for self-discovery and emotional growth—or the opportunity to binge watch Doctor Who all night without ear buds, which I’d like to think is the same thing. Although we learn about ourselves through relationships, we also learn a lot about ourselves when we’re alone. The list of healthy solo activities is endless: long nature walks, meditation, all the movies you wanted to watch when everyone voted for something else. In addition, it can be potentially dangerous if we don’t know how to be alone. It can lead to depression or motivate us to enter unhealthy relationships we don’t even want to be in. Living and working alone might be inherently draining for Extraverts, but you still have the choice to make the most of it.
So you see, my dear Extraverted reader, you can still successfully navigate life with minimal human interaction. If the solitude still gets to you, you might need to make bigger life changes. However, if you are where you need to be, try a few of these changes to increase your energy to an optimal level. Go out of your way to engage with people when you can. Embrace old technology and call a long-distance friend. Connect with your own thoughts and find a different kind of energy when you’re by yourself. Remember being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. If this period of your life does feel like loneliness, take it from the film Sabrina. “It’s only a place to start.”