I’m an introvert. I like staying in by myself, reading books, and doing general everyday activities by myself. So when my friends ask me something like “Do you want to come shopping with me?”, it throws my whole equilibrium out of whack. I can’t imagine anything worse than being dragged around a supermarket (a place I generally avoid- too much social interaction) with someone expecting conversation from me.
I’m convinced that a supermarket is a place all introverts come to die. Not only are you forced to interact with the person you’re with, but with the people around you. And yes, I get that it’s good to be polite – I’m British, it’s in our DNA. But sometimes, I just want to sit in a silent room and be alone with my thoughts.
It’s difficult when a lot of your friends and family are extroverted.
They enjoy attention and socializing. They don’t really understand if that I find it difficult to go out and be social. I need time to gain energy or I’ll get cranky and be generally unpleasant, or just sit in silence doing a very good impression of a log.
Have some time in my own head before interacting with people
I’ve had 18 years to try and find a balance, and I don’t think I’m there yet. But I think I’ve gotten better at still maintaining a social life and not draining myself at the same time. Generally, when I was at school, lunchtime was my quiet time. I would sit with my friends but not really contribute to the conversation. Some of that came from my own internal anxieties that were happening at the time. But a lot of it was me needing time to just gather my thoughts and have some time in my own head before I could interact with people.
Gently explain to them that you need to tap out.
Obviously, sitting silently at a lunch table does get people to ask if you’re okay. But I was lucky that my friends knew I was quiet. They didn’t question me too much. If you have to be around people when you’re re-charging, gently explain to them that you’re not being ignorant. You’ve just had a full-on day and need some time to tap out. If they’re good people, they should understand. If not, maybe find a quiet space you can just chill and catch your breath before you have anywhere you need to be.
Don’t be afraid to say “NO”
Another technique I use to be social and not turn into a cranky mess is to spread my social events out and don’t be afraid to say no to things. For example, I wouldn’t plan a day out shopping and then a meal on the night. I know I’d be terrible company come evening and it wouldn’t be fun for anyone involved. So if you get invited somewhere and you know it’s happening on the same day as another event, don’t be scared to decline the offer. Like I stated earlier, if they’re you’re friends, they’ll understand. You can just make plans with them another time.
You could also go to social events, but don’t stay for the whole time. So, if you wanted to go shopping for a day and a meal out later in the night, maybe go shopping with your friends or family in the morning and tap out around lunchtime. That gives you some time to regroup, recharge, and then go out later for dinner after you’ve got more energy. Mostly, it’s just about managing your time as you would for any other task in your day.
Make sure you’re not overdoing it.
The most important thing when trying to navigate social occasions whilst being an introvert is to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Factoring 20-30 minutes of your day in-between socializing where it’s just you and your thoughts can make your day run a lot smoother. Obviously, it’s not feasible all the time. But if you’ve got a few minutes free, really take advantage of the stillness.
How do you cope with social occasions as an introvert? Leave a comment below!
Edited by Viveca Shearin