In a society that values outgoing traits so highly, should an introvert fight their natural disposition and try to become a social butterfly?
Being an introvert means we often struggle for recognition. Our more outgoing friends get more attention than we do. This can mean we are not valued as highly. It can also lead to us being passed over for well-deserved rewards and promotions. The temptation, when this happens, is to become more of a social butterfly in an attempt to be accepted.
It’s hardly surprising that many of us introverts try to behave in a more extroverted way. We can sometimes feel like this is the only way to get on in our current society. But while it may be okay to push ourselves out of our comfort zones on occasion, denying our true personality can be damaging to our emotional wellbeing.
I certainly found this to be the case in my own life. When I realized that more outgoing friends and colleagues seemed to receive more recognition, it made me think I needed to change. I decided that forcing myself to become more outgoing was the only way to achieve what I wanted and get the recognition I had worked so hard for.
While this worked for a while, eventually, it led to some pretty serious consequences.
Here are six ways forcing yourself to be a social butterfly could be harmful to an introvert:
1. It can cause emotional stress
Being more outgoing was fun for me at first. I saw it as a challenge and was pleased that I could manage to host events, socialize often and grow a larger group of friends. However, I soon began to feel quite stressed out by my new lifestyle. I often had trouble falling asleep because I was worried about upcoming social occasions.
This is a common reaction from introverts who deny their true nature. Too much socializing can be exhausting for introverts. We need time to rest and recharge.
If you feel the need to socialize more to further your career, ambitions or social life then make sure you schedule in some quiet time, too. Everyone is different, but I find that two social occasions are enough for me in any given week. I do my best to schedule my life so I keep to this balance as often as I can.
2. It can cause physical stress
Being in constant stress has huge physical effects on the body. Our bodies are only designed to be under stress for short periods. We cannot cope with being in this state almost constantly. And having too many social obligations does cause stress to introverts.
We can become anxious and jittery when we feel we are on show all of the time. Because we are very conscious of our interactions with others, we often spend time analyzing how well we did in social situations, which adds more stress. Without time to relax we can become ill and exhausted.
Some people develop a condition such as chronic fatigue. It is possible that some autoimmune disorders are exacerbated by stress too. I did end up with an autoimmune condition. Although I don’t know if this was caused by the stress I put myself under, I am pretty sure it didn’t help.
3. It can lead to you neglecting your own natural talents
Trying to be someone else can also mean we fail to use our natural talents and abilities. Introverts often prefer quiet work and are good at focusing and being creative. Many professions such as writing and computer programming are full of introverts. However, even these professions now seem to require us to be outgoing and promote ourselves if we are to do well.
Unfortunately, if we spend our time forcing ourselves to socialize, our talents can be neglected. I have found it necessary to interact and socialize with other people in order to develop in my career. But I am aware that I must always find a balance. I make sure I have one day a week when I can enjoy the quieter pursuits that I prefer. I switch off my phone and concentrate on recharging myself with activities that replenish my body and mind.
4. It can lead to unhappiness and even depression
If we spend months or years being inauthentic and suppressing our natural disposition, this inevitably leads to unhappiness. Denying our true nature is damaging to our confidence and self-esteem. We begin to believe that there is something wrong with us. Eventually, this feeling of being deeply flawed can lead to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. The only way to heal when we have let things get this far is to begin a path towards self-acceptance and being true to ourselves.
5. If you are not true to yourself, you don’t develop the right relationships for you
When we pretend to be a social butterfly, we end up making lots of friends who are also social butterflies. However, we are less likely to make friends with those who are more introverted. Many friendships between extroverts and introverts work well. However, introverts need friends who are also introverted to help them feel truly understood.
6. Living a less than authentic life means you will not achieve what actually matters to you
When you pretend to be something you are not, you end up living a life that is not right for you. Valuing our own unique abilities, talents and natural inclinations is the first step to living the life of our dreams.
Of course, occasionally it might be appropriate to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and be more of a social butterfly. However, if it doesn’t feel right, often it isn’t right.
If you love to spend time alone, pursue quiet activities and enjoy only small social groups rather than large parties then make sure you do these things whenever you can. It’s your life to live as you wish.
While it is tempting to behave like a social butterfly, often the consequences are not worth it. Everyone’s life is different and only you can decide what balance is right for you.
If your goals mean you sometimes need to act a little more extroverted, just make sure you find time to do what your inner introvert wants to do. Make room in your life for what restores you and helps you to feel authentically yourself.