If you’re a sensitive person you may have experienced many people assuming that you’re also introverted.
As a highly sensitive person myself I know that many people have misunderstandings about me and often presume I prefer time alone and solitude: the truth is I’m a highly sensitive extrovert, not an introvert.
I get my energy from being part of a team and being around others, not from being alone.
Of course, I like my time to myself now and then – and it all depends who I’m out with or working with – but I’m not truly an introvert.
What I mean is that I don’t primarily get my energy and inspiration from solitude: I get my energy from teamwork, friendship, and solidarity.
What is an HSP?
Before getting into the situation of being an extroverted Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) it’s best to define what that HSP even means in the first place.
It’s actually a term coined for about 15% of the population who experience intensified perceptions, emotions, and sensory stimuli and often need more time and energy to process and reflect on common life occurrences.
HSPs tend to be deeply impacted by trauma and euphoric during positive experiences, leading them to frequently experience higher highs and lower lows than non-HSPs.
Being an HSP extrovert …
It is true that most HSP individuals are introverted, however around 30% – including people like me – are HSP extroverts.
The thing about being an HSP extrovert is that you are faced with a bit of a dilemma: a busy, active environment can be overwhelming and ordinary disappointments and frustrations can drive you to the brink, but dynamic and crowded situations are also what drive and inspire you.
This creates a situation of walking on a wire in which you must avoid being overwhelmed by full-on social situations but also desire them at the same time.
With the vast majority of other people being non-HSP or HSP introverts, being an HSP extrovert can often lead you to feel misunderstood, drained, and trapped in Twilight Zone where people don’t really get what you’re about.
You may have had numerous suggestions to take the Meyers-Brigg test given to you and many people struggle to wrap their head around the fact that yes you are highly sensitive but yes you also greatly enjoy socializing and group situations.
The positives of being an extroverted HSP are considerable as well. There is a lot you can do when you thrive on a team but also notice more than the average person and have special, remarkable insights and strong emotional responses.
With that said, here’s a list of 25 big signs you’re a highly sensitive extrovert.
1) Situations always seems to be too much or too little
I can’t count how many times this has been the case in my life as an extroverted HSP.
I’m either feeling overwhelmed and confused by large gatherings and social groups or else desperately alone and bored being by myself.
The problem is that it’s caused me to turn down many invitations which – in retrospect – I can see likely would have actually been a ton of fun and chances to meet new people, connect and unwind.
The experience of being an HSP extrovert is often a case of feeling paradoxically drawn to social situations where you know you’ve often done great and had amazing times in the past but also feeling resistant because you’ve had experiences where you felt out of place or found people weren’t “your crowd.”
This tension can become debilitating.
2) You’re witty, observant and highly self-aware in group scenarios
Not to pat myself on the back too much here, but I am pretty witty (and good at rhyming) and I’m also self-aware and observant.
I’d make a good private detective or anthropologist.
Many HSP extroverts are like this, too. They pick up on little things that can often be very funny and help those around them feel included and welcomed.
They’ll remember what you’re passionate about and quirks of your personality or compliment you on something that you thought nobody would ever notice.
HSP extroverts aren’t always saints – guilty as charged – but they can be remarkably good with timing and social situations in bringing people together.
I know that in my case it took me years to realize that my qualities for bringing a group together and even being a leader had been submerged by so much social expectation and assumptions that I was a reserved, solitary type of person.
In fact, I’d just often blocked my extroverted, leader-tendency side from emerging for fear it would make me vulnerable or wasn’t what I was “supposed” to be like according to my own and others’ preconceptions.
3) You’re full of questions about whether you’re introverted or extroverted
This has definitely been the case for me. To be honest, before hearing about the possibility of being an HSP extrovert I had reached the conclusion that I was an introvert-extrovert combo of some kind.
The definitions people kept telling me just didn’t seem to fit.
Yes, I liked some time alone and found large groups and situations overwhelming sometimes, but I also found too much time alone and solo projects kind of draining and loved teamwork and collaboration.
This is common: HSP extroverts often get confused about whether they’re actually introverted or extroverted, and no wonder!
They get energy and enjoyment from social and external events but they also get easily overloaded by them and need a time out.
4) Teamwork brings out the best in you if it’s done right
As an extroverted HSP individual, you may find yourself absolutely loving the experience of working on a team.
I know that for me I’d often gone on the assumption that as a sensitive and creative guy I was best off in jobs where I could shack up behind my desk and start cranking out results.
But this left me drained, depressed, and pissed off. I didn’t feel like part of a team or valued, I felt left behind and irrelevant – disconnected.
It wasn’t until everything fell apart and I ended up trying a new career in journalism by volunteering at a local cable access channel that I realized I didn’t excel alone.
I excelled in a team.
Helping on a TV crew to shoot baseball games all hooked up by headphones gave me a feeling of well-being that had completely been missing in my solo jobs. I loved being on a team and completing a mission.
The downside of this is that if you find yourself on a team where your observations, feelings and contributions are dismissed or downplayed it may affect you more intensely than other team members and lead to conflicts and eventually wanting to leave the team.
5) You have a tight circle of friends
The extroverted HSP generally finds it easy to socialize and make friends on the surface level, but may have a harder go of it at forging deep friendships.
In the end this is usually all for the best, however, since this tight circle of friends are deep friendships that last. They are often connections built on shared interests, projects, passions and affinities.
Even if an HSP extrovert has many friends and people they’re on a friendly basis with, you will generally notice them gravitating towards a few individuals who get what they’re all about and enjoy their unique blend of super sensitive but also witty and outgoing.
It’s also simply a matter of scale, since an HSP extrovert loves to be around people but can also get overloaded, they tend to prioritize and be a bit choosy about what friends end up getting a lot of their attention and energy.
These will often be friends who are easygoing, low-maintenance, unique and understanding.
6) Too much reflection and solitude brings you down
For a lot of my adolescence and early 20s, I went in a downward spiral of reflection and solitude. And when I expressed feelings of isolation or social frustration I was constantly told to look further within.
That’s all well and good, but things didn’t actually start to turn around for me until I came to acceptance and clarity about my desire and need for extroverted activities, group projects and more of an outer-facing life.
To put it simply: I was already too interior and sensitive. I needed to get active and out of my head, but taking the advice of strangers and people who didn’t get me let me believe that the answer was to go further into my head.
I’d become so focused on myself and inner positivity that I became more negative about not being positive. It’s quite the loop to get into.
Too much time in my own little world made me start to over-analyze everything. Demanding that I be more “positive” or full of peace increased the simmering anger inside me and feelings of exclusion.
As someone who was highly sensitive I always just assumed the outside world was too much: how ironic to find it was actually the inside world which was a bit much if consumed in too high of a dosage for too long.
7) You’re ready for a brave new world
As someone who has found entering into random new social situations, jobs and places overwhelming at times, I’ve also noticed the ongoing common trait of HSP extroverts: I get bored by too much time of the same old.
As much as I have anxiety and issues with new things, I sort of need them in order to spur, motivate, and energize me into the future.
It took a long time to realize that it’s possible to be fearful and resistant to change but also to simultaneously need it in order to be a well-functioning and empowered individual.
It’s just the way an extroverted HSP is built: they find change and new experiences scary and sometimes overwhelming, but without them, they can also sink into a real depression and rut where their potential rusts away.
8) Painful memories where others let you down leave the biggest mark
All of us share common experiences of heartbreak, loss, and disappointment.
But each person gets hit a little differently by different let-downs.
For HSP extroverts the most painful memories that still linger after decades are usually those where someone else let you down or betrayed you in some way.
They hurt the most for an HSP extrovert because as this kind of person we rely on and get our energy from others but we’re also uniquely vulnerable to being hurt by them because of our sensitive impressions and intense experiences.
It’s easy to think that getting a “thicker skin” is the solution to all of this, but the truth is that only acceptance is going to get you anywhere as a person reclaiming their power from the stories of society and culture.
If you’re an HSP extrovert there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just a good idea to keep in mind that personal letdowns may leave a scar.
9) The best times you remember often involve others
On the flip side, as an HSP extrovert, you’ll often remember things involving others when you replay the highlight reel of life.
Whereas some may think back to the day they graduated or got a promotion at work or overcame an injury and proved all the naysayers wrong, an HSP extrovert will tend to think back to the times involving others.
The family, their partner, old friends, work colleagues.
Those good and bad times that forged unbreakable ties will stick in the HSP extrovert’s mind.
That’s because even though memories are often intense – for better or worse – those social and group bonding times stand out the strongest as those most meaningful and profound of memories.
As a highly sensitive extrovert, you’ll also tend to see situations that might have seemed tough or sad at one time in a bit of a golden light retrospectively. This is because your adaptive, sensitive mind wants to get the good out of everything and will often help you pick out the best parts of memories to treasure them.
10) You’re energized and amped up by collaboration
If you’re a highly sensitive extrovert then collaboration is what makes your motor hum.
When you have others who are on the same page as you and working on a project or endeavor together – whether it’s playing in a band or designing a new marketing campaign – you are amped up and fully on.
The only necessary conditions are that you be working together with those who value you and understand at least some of what you’re saying.
You will work as hard as you can for success and helping everything come to fruition when you are an HSP extrovert, but you will tap out and head for the exit if you feel unappreciated, misunderstood, or mocked.
You can be the biggest asset that a job or friend group has ever had, but you can also become that “weird guy” or “strange girl” who stops wanting to hang out after they hurt you in some way.
Welcome to being a highly sensitive extrovert.
11) Tackling crises and challenges as a group motivates and inspires you
This recently happened to me. I’ve been traveling in Brazil and was on a bus in the north of the country from Porto Velho to Manaus. The trip takes about 25 hours (or 35 if it rains, the driver joked with us before leaving Porto Velho).
Things were going fine and I chatted with two passengers who spoke a bit of English (my Portuguese is rusty) at a warehouse-type store and restaurant in a small town in the Amazon as dusk fell.
The muggy air gave way to air conditioning as we got back in the bus but before long the road turned to mud and the bus was stuck. All of us guys were told to get out and we helped push, then went to gather rocks to put under the bus wheels and help get traction.
Eventually, after about three hours of pushing, the bus nearly flipping twice, and losing liters of sweat we got the bus back on the road and were off.
The inside of the bus was caked with mud and we were exhausted. I also felt calmer and more invigorated than I had in months. Facing the crisis – and succeeding – as a group had made me more pumped up and happy than I’d been in a long time.
12) Loyalty means everything to the highly sensitive extrovert
I know it’s true for me and many others – HSP or not – but as a highly sensitive extrovert you’re going to prize loyalty as one of the top traits of friends, lovers, and everyone you come across.
Because you can get burned so badly when you open yourself up, you’re going to see loyalty almost like a gold star of approval on someone.
This means even the most attractive, funny, or friendly person will tend to be someone who rubs you deeply the wrong way if you get the impression you just can’t trust them.
Loyalty is the currency of an HSP extrovert.
Without loyalty and trust, everything else pales in comparison and won’t be accepted.
The upside is the HSP extrovert will be careful who he or she trusts and gets close to; the downside is that if an HSP extrovert gets burned they can often hold long grudges and form negative views of large swathes of people in order to try to not get hurt again.
13) You’re either fully switched on or disconnected and adrift
Being a highly sensitive extrovert can often be a study in contrasts. Extreme mood swings can be common. Taking steps to achieve inner peace is an especially good idea if you’re an HSP extrovert.
It’s often a matter of being all into something social or being totally not into it.
That in-between “neutral” disposition is often nowhere to be found.
As a highly sensitive person, your sensory input is off the charts and you notice details and absorb emotions that pass harmlessly by many of those around you. This makes socializing and extroverted situations tiring for you, and even though you crave them and need them the times when you need to recuperate from them can stretch into days at a time.
And these recovery times are like a bear in his den: you’re better off leaving the HSP extrovert their alone time to recharge.
14) People trust you and are drawn to tell you their story
This was a big part of how I embraced my calling as a writer is that people used to – and still do – frequently come up to me and tell me their story.
From a random old man who looked like Johnny Cash on a bus stop in Nashville to a friend I met a few months ago here in Brazil – I’m often lucky enough to hear the ups and downs of someone’s life in deep and personal ways they sometimes haven’t even shared with someone before.
I always respect someone’s desire to tell me something in confidence, but I’ve noticed that as a highly sensitive extrovert I am able to show the kind of compassion and listening ability that helps people open up.
Sometimes even those who’ve been closed off for years.
Plus – I haven’t “made it” yet myself. I still struggle, I still get lost in instinctive and self-sabotaging reactions to life.
This creates a sense of solidarity and connection. All of us are in this together, and the sensitivity of an HSP extrovert can often draw others to them to share and connect.
15) You’re either the life of the party or making an excuse to leave
Nobody parties quite like a highly sensitive extrovert.
And nobody bails out quite like them, either.
As a highly sensitive extrovert, you can count on being either the life of the party or that lame person trying to duck out the door before you walk in.
You’re either switched on like a glowing neon sign or you’re stuck in off mode, and unless a few drinks or friendly non-HSP folks coax you out of that – which can sometimes make for the best of times – it can often intensify and worsen.
The upside, of course, is that a highly sensitive extrovert can be a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with.
The downside is that they can become quite self-absorbed in what they want to do, rather than those around them, and also become resentful if others try to nudge them into party mode when they’re not feeling it.
16) You often give up on solo projects and endeavors
How many books have I started and then abandoned …
It’s getting up there. Something about working on large solo projects just seems to lead to them not getting finished.
Well … one of these days.
But until then, I’ve noticed that the best work I do is usually in groups or when working with colleagues and friends.
Highly sensitive extroverts are finely-tuned folks, but they aren’t necessarily the best at working in a bubble, and they will generally do much better work – and feel much better – while collaborating.
17) Loneliness really gets to you at times
As a highly sensitive extrovert, loneliness may hit you harder than many people at times.
While you need some time alone and to process your dynamic, busy life, you also feel the weight of being alone or excluded even more deeply than most.
As a highly conscious person, you may even build up a story about why you’re different, misunderstood, or not adequately appreciated that explains your loneliness.
I know that I did that for years.
But it doesn’t help.
If you’re an HSP extrovert feeling the sting of extended loneliness there are steps you can take right away to get out of your head and avoid the trap of narcissism and mental masturbation.
18) Feeling you don’t belong hits you at your core
This is related to the last point, but as an HSP extrovert, you will tend to be the kind of person who prizes belonging, loyalty, and a sense of identification.
You will crave the kind of feedback and support that a group and tribe brings.
You will feel drawn to join the tribe, but often hang back because as a highly observant and sensitive person you’re unable to lie to yourself or fake belonging when you aren’t really into it fully.
As an HSP extrovert, you may often have the feeling of being “in but not of,” whether it’s a sports team, interest group, club, or group of work friends.
Maybe it’s time to consider joining a tribe where you can be a fully authentic individual and reclaim your personal power.
19) You love to help others discover themselves
Highly sensitive extroverts understand how complicated our inner experience can be.
And even though that might sound a bit wishy-washy, it’s really not. The journeys that many of us go through – of all personality types – can be very profound and dynamic.
HSP extroverts understand intuitively from their own experience how to help others, including by giving them the space to live out the experience, struggles, and triumphs that will help them become themselves.
Highly sensitive extroverts like to discuss deep subjects and form strong bonds that stand the test of time.
20) Seeing what the day or night will bring brings you joy
Like I was saying, a highly sensitive extrovert often shies away from going out or being spontaneous, but when they do go for it they will – more often than not – have a great time.
Because everything can be an adventure for an HSP extrovert, even the most mundane of experiences with friends and colleagues can turn into something interesting.
Even going out alone and just chatting to strangers at a bar can result in some memorable interactions.
HSP extroverts are easily overwhelmed, but they also tend to be endlessly curious and always learning – especially from other people.
21) Making new friends comes easily to you
Highly sensitive extroverts are intuitively adept at connecting with others and making new friends.
They can sense what’s important to others and will naturally focus on the locus of interaction or connection.
This results in many new friendships and others who may “see themselves” in the HSP and feel they’ve met a kindred spirit by chance.
And who’s to say they haven’t?
22) Arguments and social tension are common issues
The downside of being an HSP extrovert is that if you’re in a bad mood or sensitive state then arguments and feelings of social tension can be common.
If the “vibe” of a group or events rubs you the wrong way you can bristle like a porcupine and even sometimes pick a fight or self-sabotage the situation.
In a way, this is usually because it’s become overwhelming and you are subconsciously looking for a way out of the interaction.
23) You take time to adjust to new surroundings
Even though making new friends and striking up conversations can often come easily to an HSP extrovert, it isn’t always the case that new situations are easy to adjust to.
You may find yourself taking time to adjust to new surroundings and “get the feel” of it.
The same can happen with people who speak very rapidly or have high energy: the HSP extrovert may smile and laugh along with the conversation but it can often exhaust them since they are still adjusting to the overall situation and environment.
24) You take insults to your friends personally
Highly sensitive extroverts prize loyalty and belonging, and as such, they tend to take insults and offenses to their friends personally.
It can be hard to let something go when somebody has intentionally or unintentionally offended or hurt your friend.
As an empathetic HSP extrovert, you feel the pain that’s been caused to your friends and can sometimes carry it on their behalf.
While this can be valuable in terms of solidarity and standing up for those you care about, it can also go too far if you hold on to an issue once it’s already past time to let it go and your friend doesn’t want to hear about it anymore.
25) People often tell you they thought you were shy until they got to know you more
This has definitely happened to me many times.
I meet someone new and I come across as a bit shy, reserved, or withdrawn.
But after getting to know me and a few deeper conversations the person’s whole impression tends to change.
“Hey, you’re not actually shy at all!”
This is a common experience for HSP extroverts, who take a bit to warm up but can also connect deeply with people from all walks of life.
26) You have a deep inner desire for tribe, spirituality and faith
As I mentioned, the HSP extrovert has a desire for tribe, but is also unable to compromise their individuality, perceptions, and commitment to truth.
This can result in a paradox where you feel very drawn to a religious or spiritual path but also uncomfortable with signing on to “all” of its beliefs or practices.
But that yearning for belonging and truth doesn’t go away.
The result is often an individual with deep hunger for truth and authenticity who seeks the same in others and is very open about those on all sorts of paths because as an HSP extrovert you understand the value in many traditional and non-traditional ways to seek the truth and healing.
27) You’re all over the place
Part of being a dynamic and highly sensitive extrovert is that you’re sometimes going to be all over the place.
Should I stay or should I go …
When you get too caught up in your mind and self-monitoring you may well feel like the world is just one giant ball of confusion yarn.
You don’t even know yourself what you want and it seems to change every five minutes.
This is where it’s the perfect time to take a moment and breathe. Those who are very sensitive but also outgoing are some of the highest risks for shallow breathing and being tensed up inside themselves.
Let it go and find your power. Everything is going to be alright and sometimes the only answer to the confusion, indecision, and swirling emotions is to say:
“You do your thing
And I’ll do mine.”
Here’s the bottom line …
The bottom line is that being a highly sensitive extrovert presents certain unique challenges and gifts.
It can make you feel like the luckiest person in the world who can weave your way between the life of the solitary individual and the life of the party …
Or this identity can leave you feeling like you don’t belong in either world …
The bottom line is to remember your value and keep honing all the gifts and capacities you can bring to the world and to yourself.
And keep being a highly sensitive, complicated, paradoxical, extroverted superstar.