Back in 2014, I covered What being an introvert ACTUALLY means when A Geeky Gal was still coming into her own. It was originally ported over from my very first attempt at blogging before I decided to rebrand and become what is now A Geeky Gal. It was honestly quite a nostalgic trip to go back and re-read that 5+ year old blog post. You may be wondering why in the world I’m choosing to revisit it now. Well, Angie of Backlog Crusader kindly requested a special Mental Health in the Geek Community segment on being an introvert, and I am more than happy to oblige on a subject like this!
You’ll also notice some featured quotes from fellow introverts scattered throughout this post. I asked Twitter for negative quotes or phrases that they have heard pertaining to being an introvert themselves. These are real quotes from real people. Thank you to all of you who helped contribute to this post with your own unique points of view and experiences. It really helped shape this post into an honest look at what it actually means to be an introvert.
Throughout this post I will be covering several subjects about introversion! I will be sharing some common introvert traits, some introvert myths, introvert problems, as well as how to be a better friend to introverts. The goal of this post is to highlight the struggles of being an introvert while also bringing awareness to mental health and how anyone can better understand what it actually means to be an introvert. I will be calling upon my own experiences as well as other’s to better explain what we go through on a daily basis as introverts. I will also be quoting back to my original article while expanding upon my life now as an introvert and things I have learned along the way.
So what is an introvert exactly?
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? — A Geeky Gal
An introvert is defined as a shy person who does not reveal one’s thoughts or feelings readily. Introverts usually prefer calm, minimally stimulating environments. They typically feel drained after prolonged socialization and recharge by spending time alone. However, no introvert is the same. Some may find they need very little time to recharge and can handle long periods of time in social situations. Others may feel drained very quickly and need even longer periods of alone time in order to recharge their energy. All introverts share the commonality of feeling completely drained after too much time around people in a social setting or having had too much stimulation in a short period of time.
Some Common Introvert Traits:
- Tend to express themselves better in writing than in actual conversation.
- Enjoy solitary activities that allow them to focus (reading, writing, etc.).
- May spend a lot of time dreaming and creating their inner world.
- Rather socialize one-on-one or in a small group.
- Typically dislike talking on the phone.
- Need time to think before speaking.
- Prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
- Typically dislike small talk.
These are just a few traits of introverts but as I said before, being an introvert can look much different than this little list. For introverts, socializing is energy draining. Time by themselves is like a recharge. The time introverts can socialize and the time they need to recharge varies greatly by person. Some may need a little time to recharge while others need a greater amount of time. Some have a higher tolerance for socializing and stimulation while others may not. Most introverts fall somewhere in the middle. It’s important to remember introversion (and extroversion) fall on a spectrum, and there is no “all or nothing” when it comes to being an introvert.
Our life experiences can also greatly affect our place on the introversion spectrum. While some of us were encouraged by authoritative figures like our parents and teachers for our quiet thoughtfulness, other introverts were bullied and teased for our introverted nature. Due to such circumstances, introverts can develop social anxiety or even have learned to fake being an extrovert in order to please others around us and “fit in.” No one should have to pretend to be someone they’re not.
For years, I didn’t know I was an introvert. I thought I was just on the anti-social side [due to the misconceptions about introverts]. 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. — A Geeky Gal
Some Common Introvert Myths:
- They are a snob. – Usually we are too tired to interact or feel like it would be a waste of energy which can be perceived as “being too good” to socialize.
- They are shy. – Shyness is being nervous and self-conscious in social situations which can be a trait for both introverts and extroverts.
- They are socially awkward. – While some introverts can be socially awkward, it’s not a common trait among us.
- They are a shut-in. – Socializing is draining, therefore we are choosy with how we spend our energy.
- They are depressed. – Alone time isn’t a bad thing, and doesn’t mean we are depressed.
- Being an introvert is not okay. – It is totally and completely normal to be an introvert.
- They are a weirdo. – Let’s stop with the name calling shall we?
- They are judgmental. – We are just listening and observing.
Despite the internet shedding a new positive light onto introversion, introverts are still commonly misunderstood. There’s a huge lack of understanding when it comes to being an introvert. In fact, there’s several myths that surround introverts. Many times, people equate introversion to anxiety and depression. If we want alone time, we are labeled as anti-social or rude. If we are quiet, we are labeled as a snob or shy. These myths couldn’t be further from the truth.
Introverts enjoy social interaction as much as the next person; we just enjoy it a bit differently and for a different amount of time. If we are already drained from too much stimuli, we may be quiet. If we decline an invitation to hang out, we may be using that time to recharge. If we are quiet during normal conversations, we may be just listening and observing.
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. — A Geeky Gal
- Two words: Group. Projects.
- Feeling drained after “every day” activities.
- Your thoughtful look translates to resting bitch face.
- Feeling hungover from too much stimuli and socialization.
- People stop inviting you to places, because you always say no.
- Being pressured to be more social… whether you like it or not.
- Trying not to roll your eyes when you get asked “Are you okay?” for the millionth time.
- Trying to come up with an excuse that extroverts will understand to leave social situations.
Thanks to social media, introverts have become more united and are sharing their experiences. The internet has made us feel less alone and more normal. The biggest thing uniting us? #IntrovertProblems. We have shared our daily interactions, things said to us, things said about us, and the struggles we face as we navigate a world catered to extroverts. We have united under the hashtags pertaining to our introvert troubles with GIFs and stories of our own. It’s brought more awareness to what it means to be an introvert.
However, introverts still struggle in our day to day lives with social interactions and constructs. It’s not just strangers who struggle to understand our introversion, but our own coworkers, friends, and family, too. Angie from Backlog Crusader recalled a time at work when she was just trying to take her break in peace: “I’d say my issues are more behavior than words. Like people sitting down and talking at me over lunch when I clearly have earbuds in and am sitting alone in a corner of the room happily reading. Lol[.]“
Did people take this [my introversion] 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. — A Geeky Gal
How Can You Be A Better Friend To Introverts?
- Don’t underestimate us.
- If you can, don’t call us — text!
- Skip the big groups, and invite us out one-on-one.
- Give us time and space to recharge and wind down.
- Give us time to think of a response in a conversation.
- Find comfort in the silence; we promise it’s a good thing.
- Instead of small talk, engage with us in deeper conversations.
- Always invites us; we like having the option to socialize when we’re able.
Making friends can be hard and is one of the biggest struggles for introverts. Finding people to fill our inner circle who understand our introversion is an incredibly daunting task. Meagan from Quibbles and Scribbles thought back to her time in college when she was trying to make friends: “There were also some times in college people didn’t want to hang out with me cause I preferred to stay in. They would ditch me in public places [‘]cause I said I’m not into parties.”
Despite our need for solitude, introverts still want friends! If you ever find yourself in a situation to be friends with an introvert, you may find a best friend for life. We enjoy deep, soul-searching conversations. We can be extremely loyal, especially when we find someone who is understanding of our introverted needs. We can really surprise you with our shining personalities if given the chance.
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 for anything. I didn’t get invited to a lot of parties, but really, who’s the winner here? I got underestimated a lot, but it gave me opportunities to blow them away when it was my time to shine. — A Geeky Gal
Introverts are widely misunderstood and are often given pesky labels that reflect negatively on mental health. I’ve covered a few common traits among us that can help you identify if you or someone you know is an introvert. I’ve discussed some of the myths that surround introverts and why they are simply misunderstandings due to the catering of extroverts in social settings. I even went over how we are finally seeing introverts in a more positive light now that we are being brought together through the internet to chat about our #IntrovertProblems.
Throughout this post, you’ve read several quotes from fellow introverts who have shared some of the hurtful things said to them when they were just being themselves. How can we continue to combat this negative stigma surrounding introverts? By being a better friend to them, of course. Having a better understanding of why and how introverts see the world can help you bring awareness to your own life — in the work place, in your friend group, within you family, and even just simple social interactions with strangers you meet.
Once they get to know you, they [introverts] probably won’t shut up and will be the funniest and happiest people you know. Just make them comfortable enough to open up. — A Geeky Gal
If you are currently struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a friend/family member and check out these resources:
- Hotline Numbers
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – by State List
- Mental Health America (MHA) – by State List
- Top 25 HelpLine Resources
Are you an introvert or do you have introvert tendencies? What do you wish more people knew about being an introvert? Let me know in the comments!
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