A lot of people will never understand what it feels like to be an introvert. They have some ideas about what it feels like, but they won’t truly get it.
Maybe they think being an introvert feels like sadness, loneliness or fear. They think introversion is the same as shyness (it’s not!), so they believe that all introverts must feel nervous, and afraid. They’ll never know the truth.
They won’t understand that we introverts feel something an extrovert may never experience. This feeling is difficult to explain, but I’ll try my best.
A crushing feeling
The other day, my boyfriend told me about a frightening recurring dream he used to have when he was little. He dreamt that he was walking down a city street and the buildings began falling on him, crushing his tiny body.
He said it was a horrible feeling. These big towering structures were coming down on him and there was nothing he could do about it. Being an introvert in an extrovert’s world feels kind of like this.
We are small building people in a big building world. We just want to go for a walk without worrying about being crushed by overstimulation. Instead, we often feel overwhelmed by our environment.
The “buildings” that threaten to bring us down are everyday things like group activities, loud music and crowds. Our culture’s obsession with busyness can also have a crushing effect on introverts.
Some people will never understand how it feels to be so exhausted by a big social event that you need days to recover. Or so frazzled by noise pollution that you can’t think. Or so drained by a conversation that you want to run and hide.
The overwhelm that introverts can feel on a daily basis is just an abstract concept to most people. Maybe they’ve heard about it, but that doesn’t mean they know how it feels. I can know everything there is to know about peanut butter, right down to it’s organic components. But until I experience that rich, creamy texture on my own tongue, I won’t really get it.
No matter how many times an extrovert hears about “introvert overwhelm”, they won’t truly understand it because they have never experienced it for themselves. Likewise, there are a lot of things about extroverts that introverts will never fully understand.
Of course, overwhelm isn’t the only thing we introverts feel. There is a surprising upside to being an introvert in an extrovert biased world.
The secret joys of introversion
When we are in our element, introverts have access to a secret world of wisdom and beauty. It’s like we have one of those gold member cards that gets you into the swankest lounges at airports. We innately understand what it takes extroverts years to wrap their mind around. Some poor souls will never experience the treasures we introverts have enjoyed since childhood.
They will never understand the joy that occurs when alone feels like home. They just won’t get how amazing it feels to spend hours in our own company and never get bored. Or the absolute exhilaration of committing all our focus and mental energy to one task. Single-minded obsession is more thrilling than any roller coaster I’ve been on.
It’s true that a lot of people will never understand what it feels like to be an introvert. Our tendency toward overwhelm simply won’t make sense to them. They will probably never understand the joys of our secret world either.
That’s okay because gold member cards aren’t for everyone. That’s what makes them special. 😉
Over to you?
What does being an introvert feel like for YOU? Please do share in the comments below.
First of all, great article Michaela, and an interesting question. 🙂 Like you mentioned, the answer is not simple, but like yourself, I will try to give one. 🙂
Sometimes it’s a feeling of an immense pressure coming down on my shoulders. Like a feeling that I am carrying a enormous weight, a bag full of heavy rocks, that only I know it’s there. Your boyfriend gave an perfect example, of buildings that threaten to tear down on us. Not many people experience this, and only introverts can understand it.
However, there is also that good feeling. 🙂 Feeling of liberation, freedom. An sense of realization! Feeling that, no matter how heavy is the pressure we are carrying, we have the power to take the bag of our shoulders, and run toward our dreams. It’s that feeling of genuine goodness that comes from discovering our beautiful introvert nature. 🙂
For me, the greatest feeling is that inner victory, that heroic moment when our heart says, whispers to us: “You are now who you are meant to be”. 🙂 In my humble opinion, there is no greater honor than that. 🙂
Great analogy Marko! 🙂
I lost my job today because of resting bitch face. I thought I was smiling. I thought I was being nice by trying to engage in small talk but it was really awkward and uncomfortable for me. So I came home and started doing research to find out what’s”wrong” with me. I was told I could have my job back if I smile but I don’t know what to do because I thought I was smiling. It was really bringing down my self-esteem by hearing that I’m rude and mean from my boss all the time.
Was your boss a woman? And did she resent your because you were (1) brighter, (2) smarter, (3) better looking and (4) more efficient, or all of the above? Just wondering. For all the feminist talk about the power of sisterhood, women — especially in the workplace — can sometimes be very catty.
I love working security for that. My resting bitch face is almost encouraged.
I’m really sorry to hear you lost your job though. It’s a really stupid reason to be fired. I hope you find a better one soon. They obviously didn’t deserve you.
That’s messed up, BTW, the literature on RBF says that it’s most similar to a look of disgust. So people literally think you’re disgusted by them. I don’t have a solution to offer except to explain the facts to them and hope they step up to morality.
Hi there pretty lady, I think you hit the nail on the head, except for feeling like being crushed by buildings, I get what you are saying but it feels more like to me that I am being drained by vampires, (ok, what a picture) and it’s so true, extroverts will never completely understand what we are feeling, they still insist on saying we are shy, slow (dumb) and not socially inclined because of these things, but on the positives you bought out they just don’t get it, when I say, I can entertain myself very well being by myself, I love your post.
We’re good company to ourselves and unafraid of introspection. This is an intellectual and emotional benefit IMO.
Well said once again, lovely lady!
Being my authentic introverted self and taking care within my tolerances brings me peace. I’m at the time in my life where I don’t feel I have to explain myself to anyone. As an introvert it’s important to have clarity and confidence so you can follow your own unique path.
Sounds like you’re in a great place in life, Diane. Thanks for sharing your innie wisdom. 😉 xo
Michaela, I love your writings, they resonate so deeply. Yesterday I went to the hospital and it was environmental and the people I was around. I had extreme chest pains and I was exhausted. They did all this testing and blood work and I was fine, just low on iron. As I was at the hospital, it was peaceful and quiet in my room, no yelling, no loud tv’s no one constantly wanting to talk to me. No noise, no mess. My symptoms quickly subsided when I had caring nurses and doctors around me. I also realize that I need caring people in my life. People who are not always trying to take from me, and bother me. I had to move and I thought staying with a friend was going to be ok for a few days, now the anxiety is building up again. On the weekends, it’s loud, I’m awoken, I normally meditate and work out in the morning, I don’t start my mornings off loud. I like it to be quiet on the weekends and everyday but other people not so much so. I’m relocating from the east coast to the west coast and it’s a move that I can’t push off until next year. I feel like if I don’t leave, I’m going to have a heart attack. I’m tired of arguing with people because of my introversion and because I like it to be quiet. I’m such a homebody and I’m in my head a lot that, that I can’t take noise especially when I write. I like to eat in peace, I don’t go out to eat. I’m a homebody. And I feel like it’s not being respected. Noise disturbed me and I’m just looking forward to getting away from everyone and everything that is causing me to get sick. When you can, check out my blog :). This is my only outlet to express myself.
Thanks for sharing that Morena. It’s great to hear that you are aware of your needs and you plan to take steps to have them met. I need quiet mornings, too, and feel totally frazzled when the day starts out too frantically. Hope you find peace soon. xo
I’m so glad I came across your post.
I was starting to think I’m I alone.
I most feel like me when I just allow myself to be me, and don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anyone – which I don’t! “…his great genius is declared in his doing nothing particular to prove it.” (Moby Dick by Herman Melville).
I agree, Mike! I spent to many years trying to prove myself to people who didn’t understand me. So much happier just being me. 🙂 xo
Me too – I find myself trying too hard and come across as unauthentic. That alone is draining enough. It feels awful and is a hard habit to shake, but so worth it. 🙂
an outsider, always trying to justify why we look sad or in a bad mood , when we arent were just tired , that sees everything and feels everything but cant expess is it words
Well said, Rebeca! I’m sure many other innies can relate to what you said. 🙂
That’s the crux of it… Seeing everything and feeling everything and not able to put it in words! Very frustrating!
Hello to you and I must say that I really enjoyed reading your article. For me being an introvert feels like comfort. Most of my life I didn’t know I was introverted. I thought I was just different and born in the wrong era. But then I started doing what I do best, I started to read. I don’t know how I came upon the word “introvert” but boy am I glad I did. It has answered so many questions and finally I feel like a have a place in this LOUD world. I no longer feel displaced. I feel normal and what I have to offer the world is needed in some way. So I now feel at peace with myself and I now respect myself because I know my personality is introverted. Isn’t it funny how that one word “introvert” can answer so many questions. If I could change from being an introvert to an extrovert, I WOULD NEVER DO IT. I love me just the way that I am. People don’t understand how/why I enjoy my own company so much and at times are upset with me because I don’t want to get out and do more. A day of bliss to me is grabbing a good book, heading to a cafe and picking up some lunch and coffee. Staying there for an hour or so and then heading back home to relax. I love to be quiet. It feels just fine to me but I also love to talk to people who aren’t overbearing. Being introverted has allowed me to create my own happy place. I don’t need others to do that for me. I’m single at this time in my life and let me tell you, I’ve never been happier in my life. I’m able to take a chill pill and just be me.
What a wonderful website you have here. Keep up the great work!
I know exactly what you mean, Kemi! Discovering the word “introvert” changed my life for the better most definitely. 🙂
Oh! This…I’m living by myself outside of my homecountry. I have friends of course but during the weekends I feel like those days are mine to hide in my little apartment and ‘introvert’ to my heart’s willing. A lot of people always ask me, ‘oh don’t you like to go out?’, or the very popular ‘I have a friend that is a foreigner too, maybe you guys can go out together!’…as if I’m incomplete or I need help because I have no choice but to stay home. But they don’t know I stay home enjoying myself or I go out, enjoy the city in my own unique way. Silly people lol.
I treasure my solitude.
What a comfort it was to read this Michaela, thank you so much. Like the readers above I am proud to be an introvert. I spent years feeling like an outsider who was weird because she was too quiet and preferred her own company. Now after reading books and blogs dealing with introversion I know how lucky us innies are to be able to feel comfortable alone. I get overstimulated very easily, hate noise and love silence and reading, thinking, observing nature. I love to see family and a few close friends but also value time in silence. I cannot deal with nervous people and crowds. If I need to leave a social event early people think I am sad and depressed. On the contrary I am sad when I am not at home with a hot chocolate and a good book on my pj’s! Thanks again for your website Michaela.
Phone calls from my grown children scare me. I’m always afraid that it will be bad news. The fact that our cell phones automatically show the caller helps keep me from stressing out.
My good feeling about being an introvert is the coziness and control that I feel in my home. I feel completely protected and enjoy my reading, gardening, blogging and photography.
I really enjoy your blog and the feedback from fellow innies.
We innies habit a different world. That’s the best way to describe our constant need to withdraw and evaluate what happened whenever we socialize with outties.
I agree, Dave. It can be a really lovely world at that – like a secret garden. 🙂
For me, being an introvert in a crowded room full of people feels like putting on one of those antique diving helmets, for lack of a better metaphor. Due to complete sensory overload, I can barely hear the sound of my own voice, let alone anybody else’s attempt to speak to me. When I get home, the diving helmet finally comes off.
Great post Michaela! 🙂
Yes! I love the metaphor, Phillip! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Being an extreme introvert, I am my own best company. It’s a rare day that I’m bored because my brain is always spinning with excitement over some subject that interests me. Small talk, I find, is so boring and tedious that I have to suppress my rage and move on. I know it can be rude to not want to engage people in chewing the fat but I do so tire of pretending to be enjoying something that I hate. Books, introspection and smooth jazz move my soul!
Looking forward to lunch alone, walking alone and seeing a movie alone; then going home and reading a book uninterrupted for hours. A perfect day.
“They will never understand the joy that occurs when alone feels like home. They just won’t get how amazing it feels to spend hours in our own company and never get bored. Or the absolute exhilaration of committing all our focus and mental energy to one task. Single-minded obsession is more thrilling than any roller coaster I’ve been on.”
That is just brilliant and exactly how I feel. Married twice, 2 grown kids now I was never alone and always busy. Now that I am single and the kids are gone I feel as so I have finally come home; Home to myself and.
It took 1.5 yrs of solitude in the Rocky Mountains I am finally physically, emotionally and spiritually restored and have never felt better. You know where you can find me 😉
Olga jn May 17, 2016 I am from anouther continent, but I am impressed by thought about identical feeling and all spesifics of introvert’s life. I hope: all introverts will not thing that they can to get comfort only alone. This kind of people has been good friends for any one, becouse they mind are different and thats why intraverts can to see so much good ideas inside any problams. When this people will stop afraid of anything of this world. I now a joke: a child-introvert was being at stable and there are was so many manure. This child for few hours clean out this place and then said: “Where we have so mane manues, there must be little pony!”. I would like to thanks for you, Michaela, for new understanding of me. This informations made me stronger!
It just feels great to be an introvert. 3 years back I wasn’t even aware of this terminology until I attended my Psychology classes and find out a name for, what others prescribe to as, loneliness. Though I knew something was very different about me, something special perhaps (excluding grammar and punctuation). And now, since I have been reading all about my personality and the relating traits, things have started to make sense.
As for that question, well I must say I am more interesting myself than the rest of the world out there. This introversion enables me to project myself into the life of others. In short over-thinking could be referred as, ‘the gift and the curse’. Gift as in, nothing’s new or surprising, I have simulated every single possibility in my mind, and curse it is, when something negative sticks into the mind compromising the creativity one possess.
And the cure to that is again over-thinking, just much deeper, as to channel that fatigue into crisis management, enabling myself to overcome that negativity. And since I am an introvert, this would keep on going as we love to explain ourselves to those who are interested, exploring our layers of cognition.
The only thing that I do not know about any of my kind is that, I do not like people trying to understand my thought process, I feel it makes me predictable, and eventually vulnerable. I just love to surprise people with all the wits and the wises out there.
Does posting that I am an Introvert makes me an Extrovert ? 😛
Loved your article I am a big fan of your work and sometimes it feels as is someone is bringing down the words from my mind.
Thanks Sameer! Nope, you’re still an introvert. 😉
So I know I just commented on another article of yours, but I simply love your writing, and I just have to let you know how good it feels to now I’m not alone, because for me, that’s what introversion feels like…sometimes. In a world full of extroverts, I feel like most people don’t *get* us…I hate to sound pretentious, but all of my extroverted friends at one point or another have tried to “help” me by “getting me out” when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. They of course have the best intentions, but it gets lonely when you feel like people don’t truly understand you. This is not to say I’m ashamed to be an introvert though – quite the opposite. Sometimes I envy extroverts for how easy it is for them to make new friends and meet women. But at the same time, extroverts will never know the immense joy of simply LOSING yourself in a good book, or how amazing it feels to have some peace and quiet in your own home after a long day of work.
Comment as much as you like! I enjoyed reading your perspective, Aaron. 🙂 xo
I feel pressured, exhausted, cornered, drained and guilt in this world. Your bf described all this in his dream perfectly for me. The towering buildings are people and I just want to push them over the other way.
The guilt however is from pushing family a step back so I can breathe.
I was so upset and desperately googled ‘Why do I hate people’ and I eventually came across the word Introvert. Now I know Its not that I hate them its just the way Introverts feel around people so now I understand whats going on with me.
Thankyou so much for all this Michaela you saved me! Can’t wait to read your other Introvert articles
I am struggling so bad with guilt…I am new to this introvert thing, but it fits me to a T. I just can’t answer my phone when my parents call, I can’t go to large family holiday functions and I am being told that I’m a horrible daughter ugh.
Is this normal for an introvert? Why can’t I even talk to them on the phone??? Why do I run from them??? **Sigh**
Hi Shelli! Welcome to the innie community. A lot of introverts have the same struggles you share. You’re not alone! It’s hard when your family doesn’t understand your need for alone time.
To me, being overwhelmed by extroversion energies of world and other people: feels like I’m being erased, drowned, and re-written by a million different narratives, illusions, unproductive attachments and at times, lies.
In silence and stillness, the truth of self is felt, all complexity falls away, and the BS of the world that thinks itself true, collapses into effortless knowing of what is true.
What does it feel like to be an introvert? Like I’m my greatest friend and my worst enemy. I finally accept myself after fighting this for over 5 decades. I LOVE standing at a drafting table, thinking through something I’ve never seen or heard of before, knowing that my introvert wife is in the living room enjoying her alone time. I love putting headphones on and losing myself in praise music.
And I accept that when I go out the door, I need to spine up and not let the information overload dictate my attitude or responses. I love people, I just wish I knew less about them, what they’re feeling, what they’re thinking… People genuinely like me being around because I’ve developed my sense of humor into a coping mechanism that can’t be tracked as such.
But I need my alone time, my prayer time, my “decompression” time, where I sort through another day’s worth of information that I can’t help but accrue. I AM the sensor dish on the Enterprise, but no one’s listening except me. Thank God my wife knows my struggle…
And I know hers.
I am living with an introvert and it’s not always easy.
Can you please advice me in his I can better understand and support him?
He doesn’t like to talk much and that makes me to think he keeps secrets. He is often very silent and distant, then I think it has to do with me. Can you help so we can have a better understanding?
Hi, people! I am very glad that I came across this blog. It has been helpful to me since I lost my job and had very rough time over the previous months. I am 28 years old, I have been an introvert as long as I can remember. Being an introvert in my country is considered as being different in not a good way. It is very hard to be an introvert in a community centered around extroverts. I don’t have many friends or people who understand me, so I always visit this blog to feel more secure. I worked as a school teacher, and people said that I was doing a great job, and also that I should socialize more with my colleagues. It has become very difficult for me to explain to people why I am so shy, quiet, why I don’t have a girlfriend, why am I different from others. I am very sad because my family does not understand my personality and I am at the same time glad I have some people to talk to without being judged or labelled. Sometimes, I hate myself for being an introvert, I wish I were more outgoing, but in the end, I am who I am. It is not easy, but I will continue fighting. Michaela, thank you very much for all your articles and newsletters that kept me mentally alive during the past weeks!
For me, it’s that “punch in the gut” feeling along with feeling my heart beat out of my chest. At the same time, it’s an emptyness…as if you drew a person with absolutely nothing inside…a big hole in the middle of their chest. I don’t know if that makes any sense but that’s what it has always felt like to me. I am slowly learning to love me the way I am and not wish to be an extrovert or wish to be someone else.
i am an introvert.but ppl dont understand.they think im boring.does being introvert means being boring?at some occasion ppl will be dancing,singing but i sit on couch and watch them have fun..but personally i dont want to be a part of it..so they think im boring..i so hurts..
After losing my son through lies and deciept and a 7 year long hard battle with several suicide attempts, I am finding myself again. I can’t socialize unless I’m on social media. I won’t bring myself to make new friends because every single person I have ever loved has detrimentally betrayed me, not just through my perception. I had to accept this as I went back trying to mend the broken relationships. I am just learning of this and know this is what’s happening, I have an intense sense of what peoples intentions are. I notice everything. Through this past stagnant situation I can’t keep to myself. I have to call people out and make sure they know that I know and will not tolerate ANY deception in my life. I don’t want friend because they always end up lying or betraying. Prior to this I was predicted to be dead at 17 and a ward of the state because my parents didn’t want to deal with me. With no degree I overcame adversity and became a rock star job performer excelling at every job I had. My boss was jealous of me and lied and I lost my job and haven’t been able to hold a job longer than 9 Mo since. Its been 10 years. My situation is much more than I could put here. Believe it or not this is the short version. I need help but don’t have insurance and won’t take pills. So thank you for your info as it is one of the tools I use to just get out of bed everyday. I haven’t gone a whole week for 7 years with out feeling devastated and broken. Spirts of overcoming but nothing lasting.
I am an introvert as well. My problem is trying to figure out a way to meet women. Small talk bores me. Social events scare me. I’ve never married or have had children. Meeting new people is very awkward. Rarely do I meet someone where it just clicks. I do have a great apartment and for the most part I enjoy my life, but I’m missing a romantic relationship. I’m college educated, smart, have a good sense of humor, but can’t get out of my own head. Has anyone else had these difficulties finding meaningful relationships?
Wow!! To hear the kind of nightmares that your boyfriend had is just incredible to me. I grew up with these kinds of crushing dreams. I would literally run around my house frantically trying to escape whatever was trying to crush me. They were not buildings per se but I was definitely minute and I felt this incredible pressure surrounding me! I have never heard anyone describe this type of dream. I am now 47 and I no longer have that nightmare. Thank goodness!! It is beyond amazing to my mind and soul to finally know that I am not alone in this overly extroverted world!!
Hi All, and hi Michaela. I am so glad i stumbled across this site. I wonder if anyone has experienced the following: I find conversing with people (both work collegues, extended family and strangers) extremely difficult and quite excruciating. I can never think of anything to talk about so conversations always end abrubtly and never more than 1 to 2 minutes, and that conversation usually consists of me asking awkawrd questions like, what do you do, where do you live etc. In social settings i am always looking at my watch or using my phone as an escape. I would rather sit in my car alone, than be in a social setting. Being alone is my happy place. I avoid putting myself in situations where i might get invited to something, but then i will get a bit jealous because i am not invited to things. Does anyone else feel like that??
I want to cry. Thank you so much. Its so nice to feel understood. I go to the internet for help because 95% of the time in my real life im not understand. But ive come to this point that im so damn exhausted of explaining myself that i dont care to anymore. Im done explaining & im here to accept myself. Even if few see it as a gift im so thankful deep down to be who i am. I live in a secret world full of meaning. I dont any longer need them to see it or understand it. Im my favorite company. Thank you so much
I being introverted is sometimes misunderstood I am not a shy person but being alone may me more comfortable than engaging in stupid conversation with people who think that they are right every time and want me to partake in. I rather to be reclusive.
Nice post michaela…
Truly extroverts will never understand how it feels to be an introvert….
To myself i seriously feel safe when alone.
My friends would always feel they’re kinda the boss whenever we’re in class and it hurts though but still i think being independent and alone makes one matured and also being realistic…
Just as your boyfriend said, i won’t say he’s wrong cause it’s the same with all introverts….it’s like being surronded by savages, drained with so much feelings that seems to bring you a hope of giving up on them….
I wish i could explain these feelings to the world but….
The songs so depressive it just hurts whenever those thoughts came flashing back in my head….
I loved your post Michaela you just made my day I thought it was just me for a second lol but the difference with me is that when I go to work or maybe just a walk in the Park I feel like my energy is being drained when I’m around people. It’s like walking into a lake full of leeches sucking out all your blood. I always wondered why people never really wanted to sit next to me on the train but maybe it’s because I have a resting bitch face and I’m a guy lol. I don’t smile too much but when I’m by myself I feel happier than a teenager winning a million dollar lottery ticket. There is no place better than to be by yourself PERIOD lol it’s like your home.
I just want weekend for myself. No team parties, no phone calls. Just me, my laptop, junk food and list of movies. On weekdays I wish there is no group activity of any kind whether related to work or other.