Are you a social introvert? Maybe you enjoy going to parties, but you get tired midway through and fantasize about your bed and a good book. Or, perhaps, you have terrific social skills in certain contexts, like at a dinner party with friends and acquaintances, but feel awkward and inhibited around strangers. These aren’t the only challenges you face as a social introvert.
People think you’re an extrovert
As a social introvert, you face struggles most extroverts just don’t get. In fact, one of the biggest conundrums you encounter is that people assume you are an extrovert. When you tell them you’re a card-carrying introvert, they say, “no way, you’re so friendly and sociable.”
You want to tell them that not all introverts are anti-social hermits, and introversion has more to do with where you get your energy than how much you like people….
But they’ve already hopped along to a new topic, which brings me to my next point.
Talking to extroverts gives you a headache
Although you may blend in with the extroverts, you still have the brain wiring of an introvert. This means that you tend to process information more deeply and slowly. You prefer slower paced conversations on interesting topics. Socializing with fast-talking extroverts can be a real headache—literally.
When I spend too much time with people who rush through superficial conversation topics without ever truly listening, my brain begins to protest. It warns: INFORMATION OVERLOAD. ENTERING BATTERY SAVING MODE. And that’s when I start to shut down and tune out what the person is saying.
After all, no matter how social an introvert may be, we still have our limits. And conversing with loudmouths who don’t listen is a surefire way to deplete ourselves FAST.
You push yourself until you crash
We social introverts wonder how to find a balance between our need to connect with others and our need for sweet solitude. It’s all too easy to push ourselves so hard that we crash. And you can’t blame us.
Our social side is the aspect of our personality that people encourage the most. When we are at our social peak, mixing and mingling and putting a friendly face forward, they cheer us on. But when we start to withdraw, they chastise us.
They assume the sudden change in our vibe is due to anger, depression, or possibly constipation. It’s hard for them to accept that we can be social much of the time, but also need our space. So they pressure us to keep putting on a jovial front long after our social batteries have expired. Guess what.
This is a recipe for burnout and depression. Social introverts need to honour our innie needs, too.
That’s why I’ve put together 3 ways to stay sane and happy as a social introvert:
1. Know your limits.
Until I started writing about introversion five years ago, I never took the time to examine my social limits. When I got tired and irritable after several hours of socializing I took it as a sign of my own inadequacy. It made me feel really bad about myself.
Nowadays, I just accept that I have limited social batteries. When I start to feel the warning signs that I’m pressing up against my social limits —irritability, zoning out, difficulty concentrating, a general malaise—I give myself permission to make a B-line for the exit.
2. Practice the fine art of saying no.
A lot of introverts, especially social introverts, have great difficulty saying no. We don’t want to be mean, or disappoint others. So we say yes, yes, and yes, with a side of yes, even though it’s killing us inside. Little do we know that a simple one syllable word can offer us quick salvation.
Saying no to an invitation or request for help can mean the difference between spiralling into a pit of anxiety and exhaustion, versus actually enjoying life. The trick is to get clear on your boundaries ahead of time, so that you don’t waiver and second guess yourself.
3. Choose the right activities.
Not all social activities are created equally. Some will sap every drop of your energy at alarming speed (think crowded conferences, drinks at a loud bar with even louder extroverts, going on group tours while on vacation).
But other activities have the power to energize you. Or at least deplete you at a far slower rate. For example, I always feel rejuvenated and happy when I have my best friends over for dinner. I can spend hours on end with my besties and never feel drained. Meanwhile, spending time with strangers exhausts me.
Over the years, I’ve created a lot of resources to help introverts stay sane while socializing and actually make meaningful connections:
- The Introvert Party Survival Guide
- The Introvert Connection Guide
- The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World
- The Introvert Charisma Assessment
I also have a brand NEW book called The Year of The Introvert: A Journal of Daily Inspiration for the Inwardly Inclined. It contains nuggets of innie wisdom for every day of the year. It officially comes out May 15th and it’s now available for pre-order most places books are sold.
Are you a social introvert?
What about you, dear? Do you consider yourself a social introvert? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!