I get this question a lot:
“Hi Daisy, I want to know… can introverts become extroverts?”.
Or even worse: “Hi Daisy, I used to be an introvert but thankfully I’m now an extrovert”.
To be honest, it makes me a little sad.
It’s like these people are rejecting a core part of who they are. Rejecting one of the beautiful jigsaw puzzle pieces that make up who they are. Rejecting how they show up to the world.
But, you know what? I get it.
For a lot of us, the idea of “introversion” has negative connotations around it.
There’s a reason for that…
There is so much confusion around the word “introvert”
The sheer amount of confusion around the word took my breath away.
It’s associated with:
- Shy (thanks to Oxford Languages).
- Shy and “prefers to spend time alone rather than being with other people” (thanks to Cambridge Dictionary).
- Reserved (thanks to Merriam-Webster).
- “Tends to have difficulty adjusting to social situations” (thanks to Brittanica).
Frankly, this makes me cross.
Stamp my feet on the ground, sign a petition, and hammer out some emails, kind of cross.
Because these definitions are not correct.
What on earth is an introvert then?!
Introversion is all about energy.
We all have an internal supply of energy.
Some people find it is drained by social interaction—even when they’re having fun. They need time alone to recharge and are more introverted. Others gain energy from being with other people, and are more extroverted.
Ambiverts are people who get energy equally from quiet and stimulating environments.
So the questions are: what helps you feel energised? What drains you of energy?
Do you leave a group of friends having had a fun time but feeling exhausted? Or are you craving more?
We all have “set points”. These are the upper and lower limits of how much extroversion your brain can handle. As an introvert you might want more social time one day and less another day, and as long as you’re within your “set points” you’re okay.
These set points may look different every day. Sometimes your best is being a social butterfly, speaking with people left, right, and centre. Sometimes your best is smiling to the person who served you coffee, but feeling unable to say anything.
The most important part about all of this? Trying your best, every day.
If you are giving it your best every day, you feel satisfied at the end of the day. You know that on this specific day, your best looked different than yesterday—but it was still your best.
We can also apply this to decisions. Knowing that you’re making decisions at that point with the knowledge you have and the context you were in creates more compassion for your Past Self.
You are older and (possibly) wiser now. You may not make the same decision if faced with the choice at this moment in time, and that’s okay. Every day you’re trying your best.
Introvert, or otherwise.
What is introversion not?
Introversion is not:
- Wanting to be alone all the time. We are humans. Human beings need other human beings.
- Feeling sad or depressed. Introversion is often mistakenly linked to this because it’s associated with poor social skills, which results in a lack of connection, which may lead to sadness and depression.
- A mental illness. It’s not. It’s a personality trait.
- Shyness. Social anxiety. One can lead to the other, so people with introversion may also feel shy because they feel out of place in a world that makes them feel weird, which increases their social anxiety.
So, can introverts become extroverts?
Short answer, yes (in a sense).
Long answer: the easiest way for introverts to “become extroverts” is by adopting extroverted skillsets. For example, speaking loudly, being a social butterfly, having lots of friendship groups.
Everyone can do this; introvert, extrovert, ambivert, and everything in-between.
We all fall somewhere on the introvert-extrovert scale. Where we specifically land can change at different points in our life. It can even change at different points in the day.
Overall we do tend to lean more to one side than the other. So you may be exhibiting typical extroverted characteristics, but find yourself constantly exhausted at the end of the week because you’ve had no time alone to recharge. Or you may have spent too much time alone and need to be around people more frequently to keep your energy levels up.
The point here is that there’s no right or wrong answer. You get to choose how you show up to life.
What if I don’t like the person I am?
This is a much better question to ask rather than “can introverts become extroverts”.
Often introverts just don’t like the person society is making them out to be. We self-identify as loners, people-haters, and awkward in social situations. Identifying the specific behaviours or characteristics that you want to change or embody is the first step to becoming the person you want to be.
Activity: Who is it you want to be?
When you think of an extrovert, or the person you’re hoping to be like, how do they act?
What does their typical working week look like? How do their spend their weekends?
What do they think when they wake up in the mornings? When they’re faced with an awkward situation, how do they handle it?
Spending some time answering these questions can really help you pinpoint what you want to change in your life:
- If you are lonely, perhaps you want to spend your weekend with a group of friends.
- If you feel shy, maybe you want to be the person who tells the waiter they have got their order wrong (rather than accepting the wrong food without a word).
- If you are awkward in conversations, perhaps you want to be someone who can talk to anyone.
Get really specific here.
You want to end up with a list of actions and skills. For example:
- Knowing how to start conversations.
- Being assertive.
- Comfortable setting boundaries.
- Knowing how to network.
Once you’ve got this list, rank them in order of what you want to crack first. If you really struggle with confidence, then that might be your #1. Or perhaps you have to network a lot at work, so that would be your #1.
You now have a plan of action to start working through.
Your Future Self
We underestimate the power of having a strong future self. A lot of us shy away from setting a concrete “this is what I want to be in the future” because we don’t want to commit to something then find out it’s not what we want.
Humans, however, are incredibly adaptable.
Hey, we’ve just covered how introverts can become extroverts!
Getting clear on your future self can really help you live a life with meaning. The philosopher Albert Camus, who is part of the movement of Existentialists, said that life is ours to give meaning to. That we have the power to self-impose how we want to live our lives.
You have the power to grab life by the horns and tell it what you want. That’s if you want to do that. The other option is letting life take you along in the flow, which is fine—if that’s what you want. The danger is you may suddenly wake up one day and realise that you haven’t accomplished what you set out to do.
Activity: Your Future Self
Spend a moment thinking about the the future you’re currently pursuing. Is this the future you want? What future do you really want to focus on? What do you truly want to say “yes” to in your life?
Doing this on an annual basis is a great amount of time to check in and see if your intentions are still valid.
It’s not goal-setting. This is all about your life’s aim and intention. We’re not making this S.M.A.R.T., or setting targets and metrics to track. It’s about you and your future.
I don’t want you to wake up in 20 years and realise you’re not living the life you want (ie: a mid-life or quarter-life crisis).
Checking in on your future self every year helps you take responsibility for everything in your life. This goes for both the successes and times when life hasn’t turned out how you wanted it to be. Whenever you make a mistake, own it fully. When you align yourself to how you wanted to live, celebrate it!
Reframing mistakes, failures, or past regrets as events that happened for you, rather than to you, is a powerful way to create even more meaning in your life.
Whenever you face mistakes, challenges, or difficulties in the future, view them as “this is happening FOR me.” Then fully own it, learn the lessons, and move forward.
So… can introverts become extroverts?
Okay, to go back to the original question. Can introverts become extroverts? In a sense yes, in a sense no.
You may be the most extroverted person around, but if you don’t have time alone to recharge your energy then you’ll become incredibly grumpy.
A more productive question is: what skills and qualities do I want to have that I don’t currently have?
This takes the focus off labels (which may or may not be helpful, depending on how you apply them), and puts it on action that you can take. You move into a solution-focused mindset. Your brain immediately starts looking around for answers to the question (our brains love questions).
The action steps from that question depend on how best you work.
- Do you like a plan? If so, putting together 90 day goals along with the specific actions to take to achieve them could be helpful. I also find it useful to put in the challenges that may come up along the way, and how you would handle them.
- Do you like spontaneity? If so, what action can you take now that will jumpstart this process? Taking a course, buying a book, or watching a series of YouTube videos are good places to start.
- Are you someone who likes to take their time thinking over these decisions? It’s a classic introvert trait and a wonderful one at that: we like to mull it over in our mind, pulling together the different pieces of information we hold and coming to a solution that works best for us. Be mindful about not falling into “analysis paralysis” and remain intentional with this.
Introvert, extrovert, ambivert—these are just part of the beautifully complex humans that we are. Knowing that you can use your innate strengths to your advantage in becoming the person you want to be is an incredibly proactive and solution approach that will serve you well!
- There is a lot of confusion around the term “introversion” and many misconceptions are associated with it. Introversion is not shyness, social anxiety, or someone who hates people. It’s all to do with your energy.
- Knowing who you want your Future Self to be is a powerful way of showing up to the world. You become intentional with your actions and have a greater sense of purpose.
- So, can introverts become extroverts? Well it depends on exactly who it is you want to be. Focusing on skills and characteristics rather than labels is helpful when wanting to change parts of us.
Did you know that there are four different shades of introversion?
Researchers have found that instead of one introvert “type”, there are actually four different shades: Social, Thinking, Anxious, Restrained.
Each one has slightly different characteristics. Knowing your shade can help you discover more of your strengths. You’ll know how to work better, recharge better, and how to look after yourself when life gets tough.
There’s a quiz you can do to find out your shade.
Click on the blue button below to find out which shade you are!