Have you ever been alone for so long that you start to feel desperate for companionship? Given the current circumstances I suspect the answer is “yes”. However, for introverts, chronic loneliness can be a lifelong challenge.
Even though we can be completely content in our solitude, there comes a point when we wish we had some company. At this point, we go through our mental rolodex of acquaintances and social activities, and it all seems like too much work.
With some people, everything is an effort. New friendships often feel this way. Sometimes, we never get past that new friend phase of politeness and pleasantries.
We never get to the “meat” of a relationship – the part where we can say the wrong thing, or the right thing, or nothing at all – and be loved and accepted nonetheless.
We don’t get to the part where the friendship actually GIVES us energy rather than depleting it.
How introverts can prevent painful loneliness
Over the years I’ve discovered that the easiest way to cultivate fulfilling relationships is to plant seeds of friendship before I feel lonely. As with planting a garden, sometimes you don’t know what seeds will sprout and flourish.
A funny thing happened to me during quarantine last spring and summer. I went into the year with a strong desire to build community and make new close friendships.
I knew that this was easier said than done considering the friendship struggles introverts face.
Luckily, I also knew from experience that if you plant quality “connection seeds” when you DO have the energy and motivation, they can continue to flourish when your instinct is to withdraw and isolate.
At the beginning of 2020 I planted seeds of connection by reaching out, making plans, and starting a writing group. Later, when we went into isolation, those seeds continued to sprout and multiply, despite the less-than-ideal conditions. People reached out, friendships deepened, my community strengthened.
This is because when you plant good quality seeds and get them off to a good start, they can withstand harsh conditions.
How do you plant quality connection seeds?
1. Be clear on what you WANT.
2. Intentionally connect with the right people.
3. Keep the door to connection open (even if just a sliver).
Intentionally connecting means focusing on activities and people that align with who you really are and what you really want.
What kinds of activities would I do with my ideal friends?
What qualities do I appreciate in a friend?
Where and how might I connect with such a person? (Make a big abundant list.)
Keeping the door to connection open involves setting up your environment to make connecting easy and automatic.
Here are some ideas:
- Sundays with the family
- Tuesday watch parties
- Friday happy hour
- Monthly book club
These ideas can all be translated into making friends online as an introvert.
Staying open to connection also means allowing in love, even when you’re stressed, low energy, or when you feel you’ve failed in some way.
Remember that it’s ok to not be “on” all the time. True friends will accept you, even when you’re in introvert mode.
Inspiration for the lonely
I know that sometimes it can feel like you’re toiling away in vain, planting connection seeds that could be washed away, or get burnt by the sun.
When bamboo seedlings are first planted, it takes them two to three years to get established.
During that time, farmers must diligently water, and tend to the seedlings without reaping any visible returns. Then suddenly, after years of waiting, the bamboo plants sprout, and shoot high into the sky.
All this is to say that there is always hope. Even if you’ve been alone for a while, it is possible for a growth spurt to occur in your relationships.
So, don’t give up. This could be the year your relationships reach new heights. 🙂
For more insights and advice on how to connect and flourish as an introvert, check out my book The Irresistible Introvert: Harness The Power of Quiet Charisma In a Loud World.
P.S. If you’re new to the blog, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Michaela Chung, author of The Irresistible Introvert and The Year of The Introvert, and creator of this amazing innie community we have here. For several years, I’ve been building up a labyrinth of introvert resources that will take you on a magical journey toward more confidence, connection, and self-love. Start with this free Introvert Connection Guide.