Perhaps the greatest gift introversion left me, was my ability to critically self-analyse emotional states in rapid speed.
This self analysis for my mental state has been an invaluable tool in navigating the world of extroversion. Because it is fundamentally a very different way of living for me, it has unlocked a lot of new feelings and sensations that I normally do not deal with.
The key one being FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.
I’ve never really grappled with this sensation before. It is as if, being more extroverted has made me more curious and keen to try out new things, that I had previously dismissed.
I find myself considering activities that I hadn’t before, getting upset at not being invited to things, and overall getting irrationally fearful of the idea that perhaps I have been living my life wrong.
Perhaps I am too straight-edged, too disciplined, a person who cannot lose control like everyone else.
Am I boring?
That was the question that was running through my mind, as I realised that my 20s have been spent largely the same way; avoiding the excess of the party-lifestyle, never quite letting loose and avoiding altogether the type of night where you can forget, regret and dissect in bashful tones later.
It was in the middle of this panic, my critical self-analytical side came through and told me sternly:
The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.
It was right then and there, my FOMO disappeared almost instantly.
Why should I be ashamed of my impossibly high straight standards? I’ve chosen to live life this way.
No alcohol. No drugs. No stupid crowds. No environments that will tempt me to be led astray from my own exacting principles.
Whatever it is that normal people do, just because I engage with my friends more, doesn’t mean that I should compromise on what makes me a fundamentally different person to your average man.
It isn’t even a particularly arrogant claim either. There are just too many unique aspects about my character that elevate me beyond your normal person.
There are the surprised looks when I announce that I am a non-drinker. I somehow garner an instant respect that is imparted on my character. Then there is my actual name, which is relatively unique for a guy of Asian heritage. Even my appearance is strange, because of the numerous gadgets that populate my belt, courtesy of the EDC (Every Day Carry) philosophy I hold dear.
I’ve noticed that there are two types of reactions to my unflinchingly harsh values. I either earn people’s respect, or they want to drag me down to their level.
For example, my unwillingness to engage in clubbing or other raunchy debauchery only makes people want to drag me in more. The peer pressure is often intense and persistent. To the point where FOMO actually rears it’s ugly head.
Or they are keen to see me drink, as if witnessing me ingest alcohol will make them feel better.
People might question my standards, asking why I “subject” myself to such tough standards of living. I once met a guy who told he would never get along with me, simply because of my life choices.
“You’re not normal bro. You can’t loosen up.”
Which is true. I suppose I don’t really know how to loosen up the way everyone else does. I don’t drink, because to me, drinking is fundamentally running away.
You can’t find the courage to do something wild, so you need a false sense of bravado that can only come from drinking. It’s the same with drug use. Your creativity is limited, so you need something external to expand those horizons.
I don’t like running away from my mental problems. My defiance despite the mental strain, is what defines me and makes me stronger than the average person. I have confidence, wit, tenacity, will and calm because I refuse to run away from my problems.
I face them fair and square and deal with them on the spot. I don’t procrastinate, I don’t create excuses and I definitely don’t complain about my actions, if I know what the consequences are.
This is what makes me …. well …. me.
It’s why I wanted to address FOMO from a far less subjective way now. I can see now that FOMO is just a part of extroversion. After all, extroverts gather their energy from other people. To miss an opportunity, is to deprive yourself of that energy.
Which is why I am course-correcting my mental state. As a person who prides himself on being balanced and measured in many ways, I need to combat any heavy reliance on one form or the other. We’re talking about a guy who did a science and an arts degree in uni, can enjoy both indie and mainstream movies, loves military gear, whilst rocking a suit.
It’s why I have to learn to expel the emotions of FOMO out of my system. I can control who I want to see, and when I want to see them. I’m not as reliant on people like other extroverts are. Loneliness and solitude have always existed as comforting sensations in my head and I’m not going to give those up for the pleasures of seeing people every week.
I also want to remain fiercely independent. I don’t want to lose the points of differences that make me the person I am today. Rejecting the normal ways of “having fun and being loose” is a core part of what makes me unique.
Drinking, dancing and debauchery doesn’t do it for me. The moments I truly crave are those when the stakes are much higher than trying to score a girl’s number or a free drink at the bar.
Whilst a lot of people want to de-stress, unwind and hang out, I am all about the thrill. I desperately want more adrenaline, more activities that demand all my mental and physical prowess. Paintball, Karting, Urbex, Tennis, Range Days …. that is where I can really enjoy stress.
Perhaps the only true relaxing thing that I like to do, is golf, but even then, it can be mightily stressful getting a ball into a hole.
As I am going on this more extroverted journey, I need to keep reminding myself that the way I was living before, wasn’t wrong, ill-advised or boring.
I chose to live my life the way I want to, and swearing off the usual frivolities that other people engage in was a conscious decision that I made. I don’t have any regrets on doing so nor will I ever have. There are only so many places I can be at, at once and a lot of them don’t have much appeal to me.
FOMO is for folks who want to follow the trends and can’t buck conventions.
I’m never going to be one of those people.
So why should I pretend to be?