Everyone starts their day with a certain amount of energy. The people in my life who are extroverts are fueled by their interactions with people. Alone time saps their strength. For an introvert, a simple conversation can be exhausting. I, like most introverts, need time alone to refuel and recharge. That alone time is precious to me. It keeps me going.
Many people misunderstand introverts. We’re often accused of disliking people. While it’s true my preference is to interact with people I’m comfortable with, I enjoy things like entertaining guests in my home, public speaking, and spending time with friends. Other introverts just understand that things like talking to strangers or making chit-chat with random people at the store feels like the onset of cholera.
I’m not stuck-up. I’m not snobby. I don’t think I’m better than you. And no, I’m not even shy. I’m just an introvert, and sometimes need time by myself. It’s not you. It’s me.
Here is a list of things that other introverts will “get” and appreciate.
* As a child, if someone took me to a park and another child came along, I’d immediately want to go home. Now as a mother, if we are playing somewhere and another family comes along, we don’t leave, but I’m immediately uncomfortable, and silently pray the mother isn’t chatty.
*I absolutely love self check-out at the grocery store, because it saves me from having to make small talk with the cashier.
*Social media is a lifesaver. I can feel connected without sapping my energy, and easily find things to talk about or bring up when I interact with my friends in person. It’s sometimes frustrating when people talk about how online interaction isn’t “real” connection, because to me, it is.
*I am more likely to buy something at a department or retail store when I am not “helped” by every sales associate I pass. Being asked how I am doing or if I need something every few feet makes me want to leave the store.
*If you throw a dinner party or get-together (where most or all of the guests are people I have never met) and I show up, I must really REALLY love you.
*The “greet your neighbor” time at church really stresses me out. If I wasn’t the pastor’s wife, I’d be likely to “need the bathroom” at that time each week.
*I long for the day when I will be able to schedule all of our dental and medical appointments online – never once having to pick up a phone and talk to strangers.
*I love public speaking. I feel comfortable on a stage in front of large crowds. I’ve prepared for those situations and feel in control of them. However, if you put me in a group and ask me to mingle, I panic. I would much rather speak on a stage to 500 people than have to mingle with 5 strangers.
*If we’ve met, I apologize for the likely awkward early conversations we had, as I’m not great at (nor do I care for) small-talk. Introverts are well versed in phrases like, “So….” and “Um….” and we are masters at the head nod and uncomfortable silence.
*I’m happy to have a play date with another mom and her kids or have a couple over to our home for dinner. I like entertaining. However, I usually need to plan these events at least a week or two in advance, so I have time to mentally prepare. (And re-arrange my schedule so I can ensure I have some down-time before and after the “people” time.) Spontaneity is sometimes hard for introverts.
*Many introverts (myself included) may prefer communication via text or email. This form of communication allows us time to process our thoughts and communicate with you without depleting our emotional energy.
*When your friend, family member, or co-worker announces an engagement, a pregnancy, or the purchase of a new home, you’re happy for them and wish them the best, but worry that this means you’ll have to attend some type of shower, party, or other large social gathering.
*I love things like the mom’s group I lead and attend, but I am pretty much worthless the rest of the day. Several hours of conversation and focused interaction wipes me out.
*At parties or large social functions, finding a person or small group you can just stand next to or sit by, without having to be “on” is like finding a lost treasure. We don’t necessarily want to be alone. We just may not want to be “on.”
*Introverts may feel more at ease in social settings if they have a “safety “with them. A “safety” is a friend you feel comfortable with and know well. It helps if your “safety” is an extrovert who can help keep any conversation going.
*We are often okay to sit and observe. Nothing is wrong. We aren’t upset. We aren’t mad. It’s just who we are.
*Finding a friend who understand that sometimes it’s okay to just be together without having to talk is golden.
*I may not be the friend that hangs out with you every week or actively makes plans with you, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you, care about you, and will be fiercely loyal to you. Introverts are great friends.
For all of fellow introverts out there, I get it. I get you.