I didn't realize that I was an introvert until my therapist pointed it out to me a year and a half ago. Introvert, me? I love meeting new people and hosting parties!
But then I thought about it. Yes, I do like being with people, but it is very draining for me. I'm not the type that can go directly from work to a social gathering -- I want to go home first and just be by myself for a while to recharge.
It also explains why I never did well sharing a room or apartment with other people. It would go great in the beginning, but sooner or later I would spend more and more time in my room and a rift would happen. Now I understand that it's because I have this need to decompress with no people around, no matter how nice and fun they are. Imagine if I could have explained that to them (or myself!).
It's actually really important to know "what" you are. With the knowledge I have about myself now I can take better care of myself and also plan things according to my nature! I am definitely a very social introvert, but I still need downtime to recharge.
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If you aren't sure if you are an introvert or not, here are some tell-tale signs:
1. Socializing wears you out
Have you ever been at a social function, and suddenly you wonder if you can just go into the bathroom and hide for a while?
Socializing takes a toll on everyone, but especially on introverts. There's talking, listening, processing, and reacting to all the stimuli around you. It might not seem like a lot to deal with, but if you're thinking "I totally get it," this list is for you!
2. You're good at reading people
Introverts generally pay more attention to details than extroverts, so you are probably more tuned in to body language and non-verbal cues as well. Since you spend so much time studying people you are also quite intuitive about people you meet, which can be a great skill to help you avoid bad people and situations!
Hopefully you don't have to use it for that, though; you can use it to tune in to your friend who is trying to hide that she's sad and be there for her. Introvert to the rescue!
Photo by Esteban Lopez
3. You prefer writing to talking
I think it's difficult to talk about things face to face. I enjoy it, especially late-night talks, but I get uncomfortable when the person is looking right at me. I don't have time to think things through, and of course I realize what I would have said differently hours later.
So emailing or texting is my jam! I have time to really think about what I want to say, I can find just the right way to express myself, and honestly I process things better when I read them compared to hearing them.
If you'd rather spend ten minutes typing out a text than talking to someone directly, then yeah -- you might be an introvert.
4. When you do talk, you want it to be meaningful
That's not to say that you can't talk to people. You just want it to be real, and not meaningless small talk. Have you ever avoided the hallway or kept your eyes on your phone, just so you don't have to exchange the "Hey, how are you?" and "Beautiful weather we're having"?
When I've decided that this is going to be a new friend, and I feel comfortable with them, I like to delve right into it. I want to know their relationship with their parents, what they're passionate about, and what was a defining moment for them. The sooner we can get over the "So what do you do?" the better.
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5. You need (and enjoy!) time alone
Probably the best known introvert trait -- you like being alone.
(I mean hey, I'm awesome. I'm all the company I need.)
It's not about not liking other people; you just need time to think, decompress, read, journal, and just be. Even though I go a bit stir-crazy if I don't have someone to hang out with for a while, I really need to just spend time by myself on a regular basis (so working at home is an excellent fit for me). Taking a slow walk in the forest with the dogs, reading on the patio, or just watching a light comedy while working on my decade-long needlepoint project.
(Yes, it's eleven years since I started it. But I'm getting close! Although I say that every year . . .) Update: I finished it spring of 2020 during the first pandemic lockdown! It took 13 years lol
6. You can focus on a project for a long time
On that note, introverts are really good at concentrating on things. Not to say that extroverts can't, but they are often more for multi-tasking and juggling fifteen different projects at a time.
It's not like I have worked eleven years non-stop on my needlepoint, god no! I get really into it for a few months, and then I don't touch it for half a year. But when I get going, boy oh boy. It's ALL I do. I put on movies and shows I have seen before and listen to them while working, and I'm happy as a clam.
The good thing with this kind of mindset is that you can accomplish so much work when you get in the zone. When I start writing a blog post I lose track of time and usually write the whole thing in one go. So we introverts make excellent workers, as long as no one disturbs us. ;-)
Photo by Andrew Neel
7. You're rarely bored
Being an introvert, you almost never utter the words "I'm bored." You actually enjoy your alone-time and fill it with reading, working on projects, and improving your living space.
Introverts are often very creative and like to improve their lives and themselves. That's why journaling is so common for us, since it's the optimal way to articulate our thoughts and do some introspection.
Along with our inner monologue, that runs in our heads basically 24/7, how could we possibly get bored?
8. You're a great listener (for real)
You don't just let people talk to be polite -- you genuinely enjoy listening to them.
Of course people like to talk about themselves, and I do too. But if you actually give someone the space to articulate their feeling and thoughts instead of cutting in with your own stories you'd be surprised what you can learn. Well, if you're still reading this list you're probably an introvert, and you already know that, haha.
In 9th grade the whole class went on a three-day hiking trip in the mountains, and the "cool" kids sat by the fire for hours talking. I sat there too, completely quiet (as a shy non-popular person I was not the one to raise my voice and partake in the discussion), listening. It was quite interesting.
At some point someone said to me that I must really like fire. Apparently, to them, I was just there staring into the flames all night, when really I was listening to quite intimate details being shared over roasted marshmallows.
Now, should I use my superpower of being practically invisible for evil, or for good?
Photo by Ethan Hu
So you're an introvert -- what now?
Well, the answer is simple: You accept it.
You might have to say no to some parties to spend the evening recharging your batteries or leave early if there's just too much going on and you're feeling fried. But that's okay! You've got to take care of yourself and your needs. It can be hard for extroverts to understand, but make sure to explain it to them so they don't feel like you're blowing them off if you're declining an invitation too many.
When I learned how introverts function, I could stop feeling inferior for not feeling up to impromptu get-togethers after a long workday or needing to go home and rest between events. It's just how I am, and even though I sometimes want to invite everyone I know for a big party I usually prefer having just 2-3 people over for an intimate game night where we can actually talk, catch up, and hang out just us.
Find out what you need to feel good, what friends make you feel comfortable, and surround yourself with those things and people. Just because you don't go to nightclubs every weekend or befriend every stranger on a park bench doesn't mean that you're not living life to the fullest. You're doing what's best for you and your mental health and that, my friend, is all that matters.
Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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