In my last post in this series, we discussed being an introvert in the classroom and gaining the confidence to succeed in our educational endeavors while embracing who we naturally are. In this post, I want to talk about the time we spend outside of the classroom. From college parties to walking in the park to standing in line at Starbucks, somehow our introversion always catches up to us! If we let it, it can become a burdening weight that we drag around, or something beautiful that we embrace. It’s all up to you!
Like many of our struggles, it is not only the internal difficulties we have within ourselves but the external ones as well. People can be less than nice sometimes, am I right? So let’s go through common situations we find ourselves in and how we can deal with them.
“You’re so quiet!”
Imagine going up to someone and saying, “You talk so much!”
Because being an introvert is such a mystery to some (especially to the people saying this), I like to keep my response to this as simple as possible by saying, “this is just how I am.” It usually throws people off who expect a much more elaborate answer, but I find that normalizing my response gets the message across best.
If they continue to ask about your quietness, feel free to inform them that you would rather observe and listen than talk sometimes. I’ll be honest, nobody I have said that to immediately understands the in’s and out’s of introversion but we shouldn’t have to overly explain ourselves. We never make talkative people explain why they never stop talking, right?
“You’re so serious.”
Introverts are not the type of people to stroke someone’s ego and laugh at unfunny jokes, especially if those jokes are offensive. However, this does not mean that we don’t have a funny bone! It may take us some time to open up, depending on the energy we are receiving and we may never open up at all. It’s a case-by-case basis. But, many people would be surprised to know that introverts can be just as funny too.
The best way to respond to this statement? Laugh!
“Isn’t it awkward to sit alone?”
No, it’s actually glorious! I have eaten many meals alone in restaurants or at the dining hall in school. I can enjoy my food and get lost in my thoughts. Often times, I don’t even find myself thinking about the fact that I am alone!
Most people wish they could sit alone comfortably but find themselves getting paranoid that other people are judging them. Think about it, are we really supposed to be surrounded by other human beings at all times? Take a break, grab a coffee, sit down, and enjoy your alone time!
People often ask this question not because they are judging you, but because they are envious! Embracing your confidence by sitting alone may inspire other people to do the same.
“Why do you never go out?”
This one usually comes from the guys I date. After a certain amount of time my “introvert underpants” start to show and they begin to uncover more of my personality. And this is usually the first question they go with. As a young person, it can be hard to explain to people that I just enjoy being home most of the time. It is even harder to explain that I *almost* despise parties and clubs!
It is understandable that people may have questions about our lifestyle, but we shouldn’t get into the habit of feeling obligated to explain everything we do. We are different, yes, but we are not aliens from another planet. We must live our lives unapologetically and confidently. So, get in your favorite PJ’s and stay home as long as you want!
“You’ll grow out of it.”
I find this one to be especially funny. Being an introvert isn’t something you’ll grow out of. Just like the color of our skin or our height, it is embedded in our DNA. It is who we are naturally inclined to be.
A common response to that argument is someone saying, “Well I was super shy as a kid and now I am not, so that’s proof.”
But, shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Shyness is a fear of social interaction that many children often face. As they grow older, they build more confidence in themselves and they “grow out of it.” Introversion is a matter of introspective thinking and harnessing energy through isolation rather than social interaction.
We introverts must embrace who we are and understand that there is nothing wrong with us and nothing to “grow out of.” Our shells are comfortable, empowering, and a lot of sparkly fun – who would want to come out of that?
“You wouldn’t want to do X.” / “You wouldn’t like it.”
I see introversion and extroversion as a spectrum – nobody is completely one or the other. For example, I am mostly introverted but I have no problem interacting with complete strangers or performing on stage. These are things that are considered to be more “extroverted” qualities, which may make other introverts shake in their boots. On the other hand, there are extroverted people that would never sing in front of an audience, or may have trouble talking on the phone. My point is: people cannot be grouped into one category or the other and be expected to all act the same.
To respond to this situation, explain to the person that you are a human being, not a hermit crab, and enjoy doing fun things just like everyone else. Now if the person is right about you not wanting to do something, then they must know you pretty well!