Up to this point, I have neglected to write much about extroverted HSPs, and the main reason for this omission is because I am not an extrovert. (btw, it can also be spelled extravert). I didn’t feel right writing about a topic with which I wasn’t that familiar.
So, I surveyed several self-identified extroverted HSPs to better understand their trait. Here is what I found.
It seems that extroverted HSPs walk a tightrope between desiring/requiring social interactions and becoming overwhelmed.
(Introverts, conversely, don’t feel like our lives are missing something without lots of social interaction.)
As Wendy, an extroverted highly sensitive person, explains: “I receive energy from other people – and being an HSP, I fully feel it and take it in! But, also, being HSP, I tire faster; after a long period socializing, I’m totally ready to be alone and peaceful.”
Anne-Leena seems to agree: “It’s challenging to balance the ‘kicks’ you get from social situations/travel/learning new things and the tiredness afterwards.”
A main difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts feel drained by social interactions, whereas extroverts are energized by those interactions. As extroverted HSP Shalini says, “If I go for more than 2-3 days without interpersonal contact, I feel like I’m missing something.”
Whereas an introvert like me–I’m perfectly fine with not being around people for a while.
Wendy writes: “It seems that introverted HSPs are naturally shielding themselves from things that would bother or hurt them – crowds, dominant people, noise, too much socializing, chaos. Whereas extroverted HSPs are perhaps willing and able to take some of that in – tolerate it a bit more? – draw some excitement from it.”
I totally get what Wendy is saying. I think I avoid some loud, busy, social events because I fear how it will make me feel. I anticipate that it will suck out my energy. Conversely, the extroverted Highly Sensitive Person craves the social activity—but in a certain amount, not above their desired threshold.
Dr. Elaine Aron playfully refers to extroverted HSPs as such: “Those pesky 30% of sensitive people who were describing themselves as talking a lot, liking to meet new people, having a lot of friends, and enjoying large parties. Yet otherwise they were like the other 70%—sensitive to pain, caffeine, and loud noise; not liking pressure; being easily overstimulated; and so forth. So they also needed plenty of down time away from others, unlike most extraverts.” (source: psychologytoday.com)
I asked the extroverted HSPs: What is your biggest challenge? More than one respondent said that other people don’t believe they aren’t 100% extroverts—that they need breaks from social activity.
Allen explains it like this: “My work colleagues couldn’t understand…’Here’s Allen, the life and soul of the office, but he doesn’t want to go out on Friday night.’ ”
Margie says, “People assume that I am tougher emotionally. I appear confident, and I am, however, I cry easily when I feel deeply about something that is important to me or if a situation has affected me emotionally.”
And how about the social aspect? How do extroverts deal with enjoying social interactions while being highly sensitive?
Shalini writes, “On one hand, I crave a lot of people time–and diverse people time. I’m never content to just have one group of friends; I have many groups of friends and I absolutely love that. Also, I’m more likely to be a leader–in fact, I am a high-ranking director who supervises 30+ people, and I love it. Well, I love it when my staff are happy and working well together, but when I have the occasional day when things don’t go so well (which is inevitable), I get exhausted and want to be by myself.”
The picture of highly sensitive extroverts has become clearer to me now.
For those of you who are extroverted Highly Sensitive People, I thank you for bearing with me on this blog. I know I almost always focus on the introverted point of view, since that is just how I think. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts so I can better understand how others feel.
Thank you to Shalini, Wendy, Allen, Margie, Ali, and Anne-Leena for sharing and helping with this story. You can listen to the podcast episode about this topic here.