Picture this: There’s an event you’re looking forward to. (Go ahead and fill in the blank, it’s you that holds interest in it after all.) For illustrative purposes, I’ll call it the “Sport Party Dance Game.”
You’ve known about the Sport Party Dance Game for a while and your excitement is building. You’ll get to see all of your friends and have some fun. Now, picture that you’re ready to go in the appropriate attire and about to walk out the door. What are you doing?
Well, if you are truly introverted, you’re desperately trying to convince yourself not to bail and stay home. And, if you’re truly honest, you’re hoping that the stay home side of the debate wins. Hi, welcome to Social-Interfering Introversion. I’m Ben, and I’ll be your guide.
I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve experienced this sequence of events. It even got to a point where I began offering to host such events so I was forced to be there. I’ve been a textbook introvert all of my life. I function best in small/micro-groups. I am stimulated by solitude, drained by inter-personal interaction. I become physically uncomfortable in crowds, and a fun day out means I just want to sleep for the next 24 hours.
For a while I felt like I was the only introvert in the world, and likely all of the others have felt the same. But in the last few years it’s almost become vogue to be an introvert. Using my own experience, I think the disconnection and possible anonymity the internet in general has allowed the introvert voice to grow in the last decade. It went from okay to a thing.
I hear people call themselves introverts because once they decided to stay home instead of go to a concert. I’ll tell you right now, if you thrive on social activity and meeting new people, you aren’t an introvert. But that’s ok. You are who you are, how you are.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I have something I want to tell us introverts: It’s not your fault.
It’s common to want to have a large, healthy social circle. It’s common for your very nature to fight against it. This has held true for every introvert I’ve discussed this with. It can make us feel an underlying sense of social failure. But it’s not your fault. You were created as an introvert for a purpose. Embrace it and find how it empowers you.
If you went deep into my mental programming and flipped the switch from “introvert” to “extrovert,” I know, with confidence, I’d be a terrible writer. My best articles are the result of long periods of introspection and solitude. I’m not saying that extroverts don’t have capability to do the same, but for me personally, without introspection being my natural mode, my writing would come across the same way most of my social life does: forced. Accept your traits and find your best way to leverage them; don’t try to swim against your own current.
So, it’s not your fault…but it’s not your excuse either. This is something I’m still learning. For a while, I played the introvert card whenever I wanted to cop out of something. I let good, quality friendships decay for no reason other than they seemed like too much work. I detached from groups I worked well in because of my introversion. I let it become an excuse. Don’t.
Remember less than a hundred words ago when I mentioned leveraging your introversion? Here is what it looks like for me right now: planning.
I’ve spent time learning myself (and relearning as I grow and change), and I make sure I have time throughout the week dedicating to recharging. Now that I have made sure I’m not burning myself out (which takes me right back to square one), I set aside some nights to be social—leaving the house, interacting with people, or both. I aim for three days a week where I try to have something that takes me out of the house. Saturday is open, and it’s intended for me to go and be social. Sunday mornings (and any following socializing) is a given. The third floats somewhere in the middle of the week to provide flexibility, something that my rigid self needs.
The key to all of this is using my introversion the best I can to let me step out of my introversion. I’m less a hermit today than I was a month ago. I was less a hermit a month ago than I was a year ago. This indicates growth. Find how you grow. No excuses.
Will encourage one of your introverted friends by emailing them this post?
Photo credit: Didriks