What exactly is introversion?
According to Psychology Today, “Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits.” This is a huge defining attribute for myself and even though it may seem like there aren’t many out there, surely I can’t be the only person that can fully relate with that quote.
How did I know I was an introvert? I always knew, but never put a word to it until later on in life. One of my earliest and fondest memory is thinking of creative stories of imagining how to navigate space as an astronaut by myself in my room, while Mom was cooking lunch. When I look back, I was perfectly fine being left alone. In fact, I felt my absolute best when I was doing solitary activities. My brain feels lazer sharp when I do. In school, I absolutely loved English class, especially when we were given time to just write. Whenever there was an assignment for a creative writing essay, my heart lept. I was hyper focused to write the best story in my room. The process of gathering information and envisioning how the story was going to play out was thrilling. When I read books, I would stay in my room hours end and my other home was my local library. The library is my dream environment to be in. Quiet and filled with stacks of books about every topic I could ever be curious about.
Of course, as life goes on, I started realizing that not everyone finds their energy alone. In fact, the opposite of Introverts are Extroverts and these are people who are energized by social encounters and settings.
Growing up as an introvert posed many challenges. For one, when it came to classroom participation, my classmates shouted and thought out loud a million miles per minute. I preferred to quietly reflect on the question the teacher posed and formed my own opinion afterwards. Socially when it came to hanging out, friends would want to hang out everyday, while the prospect of that overwhelmed me. I felt helpless sometimes because I felt like I was living in an extrovert world.
But as time passed on, I learned a few things to adjust accordingly and set my own boundaries as an introvert. And the following has allowed me to thrive:
1. Plan ahead
I find this my number one tactic when I try to navigate my everyday tasks while satisfying my introvert needs. For example, when a friend wants to hang out in a big group setting, I give myself an appropriate time to accept the hangout so I can prepare my schedule to focus on the big social event. This way, I can satisfy the desire of hanging out with my friend and also giving myself a limit of when I can step out of the big social event.
2. Act it out
I was terrible at networking for jobs. Simply put, I suck at small talk when I don’t feel inclined or interested in the topic. The prospect of networking in my college’s gym filled with hundreds of recruiters shook me. But, I prepped myself by envisioning myself in being the most outgoing person I could be. In fact, I would pretend I was playing a sociable character and it helped so much in communicating with other people. Obviously, I had my real intentions, but I just presented myself 50x more talkative and open to meeting a lot of people. It’s a fun challenge to bring to yourself because you know if you flub in a social situation, you can not be so hard on yourself because in the end you were playing out your most “social character”.
3. One on ones
I’m personally a fan of one on one hangouts because I can direct my total focus on spending time with that one person. Often times, this is when I can let my true personality shine and that creates more genuine friendships, which my friends have learned to love. If you have a great friend, they will often understand or adapt to a hangout that the both of you can enjoy.
3. Be Kind
I find that whenever I feel anxious about my introvert tendencies, I try to be really respectful about declining a social invite or situation. This is more of an internal check with myself that everything will be okay because kindness goes so far. I usually thank the person for inviting me or thinking to invite me, and let them know gently. I find that when you do let a person know of your situation kindly, they often won’t berate you about it.
4. Create time to pursue your solitary activity
When I find that I’m not feeling like myself or drained from a social activity, I carve some alone time to do whatever I want. Whether that is reading a book, writing, or watching a YouTube video. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed at work from all the noise and side conversations at my table, I take a mini break whether it be walking outside or going to the bathroom alone to collect my thoughts and take deep breaths. Just temporarily stepping away from all the noise helps in recharging my energy.
5. Surround yourself with other introverts!
Yay, power to the introverts! It’s always encouraging to be with other people who behave in the same way as you, because it creates a normalcy within that group. And there’s never an awkward silence but rather a comforting peace.
I hope this post helps other like minded introverts out there. Know that feeling and being your ultimate best truly matters.