The extraversion paradox

Photo by Nithya Jameshenry Student Publications

To most onlookers, it may seem easy to be the opinionated and outspoken character in a group. This individual stands out from the crowd, their voice tends to be heard and they are
generally well-liked. 

However, one notable struggle with being the “opinionated” one is that sometimes, you
simply have no opinions. This phenomenon always seems to occur when you most need to be opinionated. 

One might be an editor of the Opinions section of the Technique, for example, and when in need of writing an article, all personal opinions suddenly escape you. 

Another might be when two of your friends are arguing about a seemingly unnecessary topic and they look to you to take a side. You neither want to get involved nor take a side, yet you must have an opinion; you are opinionated about everything after all!

The worst part is when people look to you for advice on being outspoken. They always wonder how you manage it or how you can sustain being so talkative and friendly for such a long duration of time. Of course, there is no real answer to this, especially if you do not truly feel like
an extroverted person. 

You might awkwardly respond with a comment about how you’ve just naturally always been like this, or it’s a behavior you can just flip on or off when necessary. There is also an expectation that extroverted people always have something to say or have an explicit opinion on every matter. This is a tiring expectation because anyone has quiet moments or quiet days where they are not in the mood to gab and chatter incessantly, regardless of their personality type. 

For someone like myself, however, it is an immense effort. With topics like politics, world affairs or issues within Tech, I, like many of my peers, have innumerable opinions that are relatively unchangeable. However, being outspoken or outwardly friendly constantly is something of an energy drainer. It is a facade that is upheld in order to maintain one’s own social status even when they are not feeling their best.

While study after study depicts introverts to be more likely to have depression, external factors such as being a student, home environments or other personal issues can result in an offset of this skew. A study published in the 2017 edition of “The Medical-Surgical Journal” denotes that among a sample of nursing students, approximately 60% of students exhibiting depression had typically extroverted personalities as compared to 40% of introverts exhibiting depression. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, extroverts were disproportionately affected by mental health issues; according to a 2021 article published by The Guardian, people who are open and exhibit extroverted personalities experienced higher deterioration of mental health as compared to their introverted counterparts. 

Society sometimes forgets that extroverted and talkative people are humans too. Being extroverted and being outspoken can be exclusive of one another, and some individuals who exhibit such characteristics may also need peace and quiet. 

The image that seemingly extroverted people put on when in public may be a reflection of their insecurities or a persona they take on when in social situations. It is not fully fair to expect them to be “on” at all times or, on the other hand, to see their opinionated nature as “too much” without understanding them intrinsically. 

Of course, not everyone will get along with certain personalities. However, the next time you are having a chat with a talkative person, it may help to remember that the happy-go-lucky persona is most likely not the entirety of who they are.