Someone once told me that I am the most extroverted introvert they have ever met. For a while, I was so confused by this, but now I can totally see where that person was coming from. You see, I am pretty outgoing and I can connect with people rather easily (when I’m in the right setting, of course). When I do go out, I vibe, and often times, when I put my mind to it, I can be the life of the party. I’ve always had jobs where being social was a requirement – you know, like retail (in a mall and at Walt Disney World) and teaching (2nd grade – 6th grade). However, most days, being around a lot of people sucks the energy right out of me, and I just feel the need to go into my little introvert corner and put a “Do not Disturb” sign across my forehead.
What comes to mind when you hear the word introvert?
Most people seem to think that being an introvert means A) being terrified of social interaction, or B) introversion and shyness go hand-in-hand. Fact: I’m not shy whatsoever – I just enjoy my “me time” (a whole lot), my comfort zones, and long periods of silence. I’m more of a listener than a talker. I’m reflective and reserved, and a bit mysterious. I don’t mind being social (in limited doses), I just don’t do well in environments with a whole lot of stimulation – I get overwhelmed easily. I’d also much rather watch from the sidelines than be in the spotlight.
Other common misconceptions out there about our dear introvert friends is that we hate people or that we are socially awkward. Not true! We have friends, but we like to keep our tribe small. We actually don’t mind being around people, (even though we mostly prefer our own company), but after a certain point we reach our threshold and need some alone time. Obviously, excessive social time can burn anyone out, but introverts tend to get worn out by socializing much faster than their extrovert counterparts. While extroverts turn to others to get energized and tend to thrive off interpersonal interactions, an introvert’s energy comes from being alone, not from others.
What about the word extrovert?
Do you associate it with being a social butterfly? Well, I’m definitely not anti-social, but I just like to socialize on my own introverted terms. And when I do get out, I prefer quieter, less chaotic environments. Because in addition to having some extroverted tendencies, I should mention that I have many characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) – all five of my senses are quite amplified, for starters. I also feel very deeply. Through my research for this piece, I learned that 70% of HSPs are introverts… so does that mean I am an introvert or just a highly sensitive extrovert? 🤔
A lot of people believe that you have to be either all introvert or all extrovert. Wrong! Like I mentioned, I’m a little bit of both. (It sure is an exhilarating, interesting, yet exhausting combo.) The fact is we all fall into different places on the introvert/extrovert spectrum – everyone has a different way of going about things in this thing we call life. So who are we to judge or to put everyone into one box? Maybe it’s the Only Child Syndrome I’ve suffered from since birth paired with my zodiac sign (Gemini) that makes it incredibly hard for me to fully commit to being one. And that’s OK, because after 30 some odd years, I am totally fine being me, thank you very much.
Well, enough about me…
Here are 14 signs that you might just be an introvert and didn’t even realize it. You may be able to relate to these signs on so many levels, and if you do, don’t worry, you’re not alone (even though that’s your thing). Whatever you are, just be a good one.
1. You like to keep to yourself and prefer not to leave your safe space and comfort zone
Your personal space is your sanctuary. You prefer to keep the doors closed at all times because you can’t stand when people intrude into your space unexpectedly. You have a certain way of doing things, and you like to keep it that way.
2. You’re a notorious homebody
You relish in your own company and are rarely bored. You’re more than happy to spend your downtime wearing a face mask curled up with a good book, writing, coloring in your adult coloring book, or playing a solitary game. This is your idea of a party on a Saturday night – a nice, quiet evening in, free of distractions, without giving a damn about what anyone else is doing. This is your way of unwinding, decompressing, and re-energizing after a long week of “peopling”.
3. When someone cancels plans, you feel an enormous sense of relief
Even though you can handle some social interaction, the thought of having to be “on” the whole time puts you on edge. So, once you get that notification that you’re off the hook, you can’t help but to do the happy dance. More alone time for the win!
4. But when you do have to socialize…
You can’t stop thinking about how many other things you could be doing at the moment. At home. By yourself.
5. You’re more comfortable writing your thoughts than speaking them
Sometimes it takes you a long time to process and sort out information, so writing allows you to avoid having to draw a blank when under pressure. It also gives you time to edit your thoughts and feelings before crafting your message to your liking. I am guilty of writing something, reading it over and over again to myself, then deleting it. Thank goodness for the backspace key!
6. You purposely let your phone go to voicemail in order to avoid speaking to people
You really don’t like talking on the phone and will avoid it at all costs, unless of course, you’ve had ample time to rehearse the conversation in your head beforehand.
7. You prefer meaningful conversation with substance because engaging in small talk makes you queasy
You find mindless chitchat rather tedious, inauthentic, and frankly, kind of shallow. It makes you feel pretty awkward and like a phony the entire time. So, you strive to avoid conversations that just scratch the surface by keeping your headphones on or burying your head in your phone.
8. You don’t like for the focus to be on you at any time, so you do whatever you can to sit back and let others take center stage
You just don’t need all the extra attention. In fact, you actually loathe having the spotlight on you. (Never throw a surprise party for an introvert.) When you do have to chat with someone, you tend to steer the conversation back to the other person by asking them questions in order to avoid having to talk about yourself. You end up leaving the conversation feeling mentally drained because you felt the need to make the other person feel comfortable the whole entire time.
9. Interruptions, sounds, and other distractions frustrate the crap out of you, especially when you’re deeply focused on your work
You prefer not to talk or interact with people on the job because it tears your mind away from whatever it is you’re working on. I am guilty of this even during my lunch break – I have no desire to fill that time with idle chitchat. My colleagues used to think I was rude or stuck up. But after getting to know me, they understand that I get in my zone and just prefer to maximize my time while on the clock. We can chat at Happy Hour, how about that?
10. You live in your head
You are a deep thinker. Your mind is always filled with some type of inner monologue and you’re constantly pondering up concepts and theories in your head. (Which can be both a blessing and a curse.) All these hours spent in deep thought allow you to seek meaning in everything and time to contemplate your place in the world. Introverts are actually pretty self-aware since they’re always evaluating their thoughts and feelings, which actually makes them pretty spectacular people.
11. You much prefer one-on-one or small groups over larger social interactions
Crowds are definitely not your favorite place to be. You may enjoy a good party or concert now and then, but being around a ton of people and a lot of noise is just not your thing. Before any big hoopla, you have to mentally prepare yourself, and once you’re there, you need to escape away for a bit in order to avoid being overstimulated.
12. You’re very mindful of your surroundings and pay attention to every detail
Like I said, you prefer staying outside of the crowd, simply watching and observing everything. Introverts have a tendency of being aware of things that others miss due to the time they spend absorbing the information around them, instead of talking and expressing. This actually allows them to have a good judge of character.
13. You’re an over-analyzer
You have a habit of over-analyzing situations that don’t even need to be analyzed at all. You fret about things that haven’t happened yet, and agonize over every little detail of plans several days in advance. Well, you do spend a lot of quality time by yourself, right?
14. All of that over-analyzing exhausts your mental battery, hence why you require so much alone time to recharge
Everyone needs some time to themselves, but introverts can spend days without any other human interaction and be completely fine. Introverts are often alone, but hardly lonely.
Well that’s that!
Now, please kindly go away – I’m introverting. 😉