Thoughts on being a deaf extrovert

March 24, 2015 – 11:48 am

It’s been a few years now since I realized I was an extrovert. This came as a surprise; my Myers-Briggs tests have always scored me as an extreme introvert, recipe and I leak energy — not just leak, ask hemorrhage – in a majority of social situations, impotent as an introvert does.

For instance, I recoil from statements such as:

  • You spend your leisure time actively socializing with a group of people, attending parties, shopping, etc.
  • The more people with whom you speak, the better you feel.

And nod vigorously when I read things like:

  • After prolonged socializing, you feel you need to get away and be alone.
  • You often prefer to read a book than go to a party.

But nope. I’m not an introvert. I’m just deaf. People energize me. But lipreading and the other things I need to do in order to communicate… they pulverize me. It’s like having to make a blood donation every time you go out to get food; you often end up spiraling onto the floor, dizzy and starving. Grumpy. And lonely. And bewildered. Or at least I was for many years — because I didn’t understand why.

I didn’t understand my reactions, didn’t understand how to recharge — didn’t understand why my recharging strategies (be alone! do things without people!) weren’t working. I thought all introverts were like me, so I’d constantly push through my own exhaustion to draw quiet friends into constant interaction, because I thought they wanted that — even if I didn’t.


A hearing introvert will tire early in a party, walk outside, and go “phew — now I can go home and recharge.” A deaf extrovert will tire early in a party, walk outside, and go “hurrah, now that the background noise is gone, I can talk to people!” It’s been a long hard haul to recognize more and more things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

The learning continues. Deaf extrovert friends are teaching me to be okay with taking internet-socializing breaks (chat, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to recharge during work hours — I get a little energy from the real-time text-based communication, but without the lipreading burnout. And I have been learning how to savor solitude, to differentiate communion from communication, and to learn the shape and heft of my great hunger for community. It’s a hunger I’ve long ignored and matted down.

I love walking into a room of people I know, and sitting and simply being in company, in silence, maybe with occasional nods and waves. Places where I don’t need to constantly reach out to prove and/or reestablish the connection, because I trust it. Being able to relax into that sharedness of understanding. This makes me happy, and I want to find and nurture spaces like this everywhere I go. Places I can recharge.

I think these are my thoughts for now. I will post them and go to lunch.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Thoughts on being a deaf extrovert”

  2. I am enjoying reading your blogs related to hearing. You have a beautiful grasp of language. I myself have scored as an introvert on many of the tests I have taking related to personality but, I wonder how valid these result are as I am considered hard of hearing. I am currently in process of being evaluated for Hybrid Cochlear Implant. One of your earlier blogs mentioned you were considering HCI. What are your thoughts now related to HCI? Are you still considering the procedure when you are ABD?

    By Kathy on Jul 2, 2015

  3. Yep. Getting the hybrid surgery on Thursday, in fact. (And still ABD. Working on this. Dissertation… whoo, learning experience.)

    By Mel on Sep 28, 2015

  4. Old post but came up top of the list when I Googled “deaf extrovert”. Just wanted to comment, never have I read a blog post I related to more. I used to consider myself an introvert and like you eventually realized I am quite the opposite! While I enjoy my own company I am energized by my (very infrequent) social interactions, even though trying to make those interactions work drains me. It’s a bit of a conundrum. I too habe found some energy being in places filled with people not necessarily talking to me like taking my computer to a coffee shop. Or sometimes it helps if everyone I am hanging out with is speaking another language (most of my friends are from other countries)… Then I can just sit back and enjoy the vibes and if I happen to understand something along the way, everyone is surprised. That can be fun.

    By Jamie on Feb 20, 2018

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