I was surprised by how many of my friends reposted this on Facebook this week. I have a lot of introverted friends. I guess that explains why I’m always the one planning group outings and happy hours. I’m the annoying friend always saying, “let’s hang out!”
I was a 4 out of 10 on the introvert-extravert scale (meaning I lean slightly extrovert), so I feel like I understand both sides. When my therapist looked at my analysis closer, she saw that I love being social, but I prefer small groups. That’s why I hate going to clubs, networking events and concerts. I want to hang out with my friends, not be overwhelmed by noise. I remember Caley asking me how many nights per week I’d ideally like to be around other people.
“Every night,” I replied without a pause. (What’s your answer?)
It’s an extroverted world — although it appears the percentage of introverts is debated. Somewhere between 25-50 percent of the US population. Several of the introverts in my life have told me that they feel they have to hide or work against their introvert side to please others. But I think extroverts should be aware of what it’s like.
As one friend told me, “I hate making plans in advance because I never know how I’ll feel.”
People commonly assume introverts are:
- Socially awkward or anti-social
- Rude, snobby or flakey
An introvert could, of course, have these traits, but they aren’t characteristic of introverts in general. It’s more about where you get your energy from. Are you energized by being around other people, or does that drain you of your energy?
For me, I would come home from an evening with friends and be unable to sleep. My ex, a 9 on the introvert scale, would come home from the same event and practically fall asleep on the way to the bed.
We worked with our therapist to figure out ways to make our conflicting tendencies work. (Granted we ended our relationship anyway, but not because of that).
- I needed to give him space every day after work.
- I needed to give him early notice about social events that I wanted him to attend.
- He needed to prepare in advance for said social events. For example, if we were going to a friend’s on Friday night, he’d have a low-key Thursday, and wouldn’t make Saturday morning plans.
- We avoided Friday night plans as much as possible. That was consistently his alone time.
- I learned to recognize his signs when he was done at a social engagement. When he was done, it was time to go. Sometimes I’d drive separately, if I knew I wouldn’t want to leave early.
- I needed to make plans to go to the gym alone or out with the girls or my co-workers or other friends who wouldn’t expect him to attend, so I would get the social stimulation I needed.
- I needed to be OK with giving him a pass when he really wasn’t feeling it.
- I needed to prioritize social engagements. For example when we visited my family, it was important to me that he come to my nephew’s baptism, but if he wanted to skip the zoo outing, that was cool. He could stay home.
What I learned is you have to work with your introverts, not against them.
If you want to learn more, “Quiet” is a highly recommended book on Introverts.