I think every introvert has had this painful experience. You find yourself in a social situation where you feel totally out of your element. Maybe you’re in a noisy bar with people who are only interested in shallow drunken conversations.

Or, perhaps, you feel like the odd one out because most of the people there know each other and you are the new guy who doesn’t get all the inside jokes.

It’s really tough being in these kinds of situations as an introvert because we tend to internalize. When we feel awkward, we retract into our shell even more. And then we feel judged for being ‘snobby’ or ‘boring’.

It’s a vicious and painful cycle that can really kill your confidence.

I know the feeling because I used to find myself in these uncomfortable situations all the time. I’d always feel like it was my fault. I was the broken one who needed to be fixed.

But then I had a few key realizations that turned things around.

3 Realizations that changed everything

1) The people I was with did not share my values. I didn’t even like or respect them. So, why was I wasting my time with them in the first place?

2) The environments where I felt the most uncomfortable were practically designed to torture an introvert: loud music, big groups, no opportunities for one-on-one connection, no interesting activities to share. We all have places in which we naturally shine. There’s no need to feel bad that a crowded room of strangers isn’t one of them.

3) There are people and places that DO make me feel like I can be myself. I wasted so many years trying to shine in circumstances that didn’t even deserve my light. Once I turned my energy toward interactions that feel good to me it all got easier.

I hope you’ll remember what I’ve shared when you’re feeling inadequate and judged. Forgive yourself and practice self-compassion. See the pain as feedback.

Ask yourself…

Do I even like these people and this environment?

Is there another place where I would feel more in my element and could actually enjoy myself?

What characteristics do I value in a friend and where am I most likely to meet such people?

If you like these innie insights and nuggets of inspiration, check out my new book, The Year of The Introvert.