I sometimes have this onset of conflicting emotions towards social interactions with my peers and colleagues. I will make plans with my friends, then leading up to the day of actually hanging out, would want to bail and cancel. The obligation to project this Chelsea that my friends know, and love, has at times gotten me down. I’m the type of person where when I’m quiet and to myself, those closest to me will assume somethings wrong and ask me a ton of questions or try and coax me into socializing, and the ones that are causal acquittances at work, assume I have an attitude or something.
How did I get to this point? I used to be the spontaneous high-octane social butterfly in my earlier years. Seeking comradery and engagement from my extended family full of cousins, aunts, and uncles growing up as a child. I soon realized that ironically, I was the outlier amongst a family of introverts, to include my own mother as well. I think that compounded with the fact that I am an only child, has played a part in me developing these conflicting qualities of an extraverted introvert.
My Extraverted side
I was a part of club organizations and sports back in high school. Although I’d like to think of myself as the fly under the radar nerdy socialite. The kind that wasn’t most popular at school, but popular enough that I could virtually intermingle with various social clicks without much resistance. You know, that girl who anchored your morning news crew and founded the schools creative writing club. Or the girl that tried to sell you homemade cupcakes every week (this was one of my many side hustles back then). Yep, I was that girl.
I’d also like to say I was pretty outgoing for a kid whose parents were quite strict with what I could and could not partake in back in those days. No sleepovers, crazy parties, back yard bon fires, and definitely didn’t go to my senior prom (however I did sneak out to the after-prom party hehehe). I occasionally butted heads with my mom on what I thought at the time were her irrational fears bestowed upon me. Drive in the car with your friends, you’ll die. Wear makeup before you’re grown and out of the house, you’ll die. Go over to a friend’s house after school, you’ll die. I think you get my point.
Enter my college years, I rushed Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. And then into my sophomore year, I rushed and became a part of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Oh the hypocrisy of it all! Ask any of my high school friends from back in the day and they’ll tell you how anti-Greek life I was to the whole cliched idea of joining such dumb organizations. I wouldn’t necessarily say I had any major regrets from my decision to be a part of such organizations, but during those years I definitely did have moments of unnecessarily high social inducing stress.
Now that I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been living abroad for a while, I still manage to find myself at social events and engagements around Seoul. Largely due to my work as a freelance model and Youtuber. I do agree with the saying, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” Largely, these days networking can take you very far in advancing your career or creative endeavors. Also, I try to not burn bridges with people because Seoul as a city, and South Korea as a whole, is incredibly small. Literally less than the size of the state of Florida. So you’re always bound to cross paths with someone you know around town.
My Introverted side
What do you want?
I’m incredibly suspicious of people and their intentions these days. I always ask myself when someone approaches me to “chat” what do they want? Not that everyone has disingenuous intentions, but let’s face it, we all want something whether it be attention, a favor, whatever.
I have a bad habit of thinking that someone is talking to me not just to check on me, or to see how I’m doing. I was always the person calling friends back in the states to check on them, but every blue moon will receive a call from someone just to check in. I’m old school so I don’t consider text messages to really count. I value hearing another person’s voice over just reading some lines of words on a screen. It’s a pleasant surprise when someone else reaches out to me.
I love to talk. I used to spend hours on the phone with my bestie when we were in middle school jabbering away about the most pointless and random of subjects that filled our lives at the time. Outside of talking to a camera when filing videos for YouTube or amongst my close friend group, I find myself shying away from engaging in small talk with others. This is especially true for my workplace. I absolutely despise talking with my co-workers in the office. If whatever you’re discussing does not involve me or is not a general work-related announcement, then I don’t want to engage in the discussion.
I already drown out the pointless discussions happening around me by wearing my head phones most of the time while I’m at my desk. The universal sign for “leave me alone and don’t bother me.” And if you really need my attention for something, just get up and walk over to my desk. Which most don’t want to do, therefore they leave me alone more frequently. Yay!
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to treat people with less respect. God is Love therefore we must all have love in our hearts for our fellow brothers and sisters. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your own space and have to partake in aimless conversations in your workplace environment. After all, we are there to get work done right?
Work Related Social Events
To further exacerbate my introverted tendency’s in the workplace, my school has a huge culture of planning social drinking/dinning outings after work. I’m not going to lie, my first year I did partake in some of these outings and it was draining, but okay. For me it was more about the type of people who would also go and usually they were other co-workers who I felt comfortable socializing with. As with any English school in South Korea, there’s a revolving door of fellow expats coming and going in the work place each contract term. So, the group that I’m currently left with as my co-workers, I’m not too crazy about unfortunately. This is fine with me, seeing that I can save money by not going out to these social dinners, and invest in quality time with my fur babies at home.
You know those memes about making plans when you’re in a good mood, then the time comes to actually go out and they’re like, nahhhhhh. Yeah, I have become that meme.
Recently, I’ve been planning group social outings because I feel like I haven’t seen some friends in a while, and I can knock out two birds with one stone so to speak. It does not mean that I don’t value one on one time, but if I’m going to be exerting energy to go out, might as well catch up with as many friends as possible. Gotta make my limited people energy count by maximizing my time.
Something to note is that these traits are by no means all-or-nothing. I consider myself on a spectrum that leans more towards the extroverted side. Those who can relate, will also self-assess and will find themselves on some side of this spectrum. Is it wrong and should you feel bad to be further towards one side than the other, of course not! Understanding that you are an introverted extrovert or and extroverted introvert is just the first step towards not feeling as bad about it when outsiders feel confused about your energy shifts.
For the Chelseable Furture, I will continue to work on myself, but also love myself for who I am and be unapologetic about it.