Chances are that you have run across an introvert, are an introvert, or are friends with an introvert. What exactly are these people? Luckily, I am one of those people so who else to better to explain what an introvert is than an introvert?
For example: one of my best friends got married. Recently, I spent a few of my afternoons over at her new house which I never mind doing. I like spending time with her, but after a couple of hours, I’m ready to crawl back into my bat cave and have some “me” time. I CAN spend longer amounts of time with her and other people I’m close to when I don’t feel so bogged down with work and stress. I can spend entire weekends with them! When I’m around strangers, it’s much more difficult for me to feel like socializing.
That weekend of the same week, she had her wedding dinner. She and her husband gathered me and other members of their families for dinner at a nice restaurant. I was pretty excited to try a new restaurant, a little nervous about seeing or having to talk to (gasp!) people that I didn’t know, but mostly I was happy to see her and her husband happy. So we go and eat, and I had a good time chatting with the people I knew and saying hi to the ones I kind of knew. When it was time to go, I was more than ready to go. I felt mentally tired and drained of energy. I went home and crashed out. I went NOWHERE the next day.
For introverts, socializing is energy draining. Time by themselves is like a recharge. So many people misconceive this as something much more negative though. Introverts are commonly misunderstood.
Some common introvert traits:
- Tend to express yourself better in writing than in actual conversation
- Enjoy solitary activities that allow you to focus
- Rather socialize one on one or in a small group rather than in a large group
- Dislike small talk
- Dislike talking on the phone
- Need time to think before speaking
Now do you need to fit this description to a T to be an introvert? No. In fact, I dislike small talk but I can be good at it when I need to be.
For years I didn’t know I was an introvert. I thought I was just on the anti-social side. I used to make excuses to not go to social functions, dreaded having to make speeches in front of classmates, wouldn’t go shopping alone for fear of having to talk to a stranger or communicate in any way, made excuses to not talk on the phone, and left friends’ houses after 2 or 3 hours of hanging out.
Did people take this the wrong way? Yes, even my friends. It happens. They don’t know how to deal with it. I never wanted anyone to feel like I didn’t care or didn’t want to spend time with them, but that seemed to be how it always came across.
I also would run into those people that would assume that I didn’t need to be included in anything because I was so quiet. I didn’t make many friends, but the ones I did make are amazing and I wouldn’t trade them or anything. I didn’t get invited to a lot of parties, but really? Who’s the winner here? No hang-overs for me! I got underestimated a lot, but it gave me opportunities to blow them away when it was my time to shine. I got called names and bullied and made to feel small, but I know I am more than that.
Misunderstandings about introverts:
- You’re a snob – Usually just too tired to interact or feel like it would be a waste of energy
- You’re depressed – Alone time isn’t a bad thing
- You’re a weirdo – What’s normal?
- You’re judgmental – Just listening and observing, thank you.
Things that I deal with on an almost daily basis:
- “Oh, she’s not talking; she must be shy.” No, I just don’t like small talk.
- “Hey, I’m having a party tonight. If you come, you have to stay longer than a half hour.” No, I would rather stay home than deal with more small talk and overstimulating environments.
- “You can’t be that socially awkward. Are you even trying?” Sometimes the words just don’t come out right, but give me a pen and some paper, and I’ll blow your mind.
- “You should go out more.” No thanks. I don’t really want to.
Just because I am introvert, doesn’t mean I don’t like having company or that I have nothing to say. Just respect my personal space and how reserved I can be, don’t take my silence as an insult, don’t scold me in public, and know that if I open myself up to you, you must be very, very special.
The best things you can do for an introvert are the things I stated above. Once they get to know you, they probably won’t shut up and will be the funniest and happiest people you know. Just make them comfortable enough to open up.