The word ‘introvert’ has a lot of negative connotations today, particularly when we look at the Western culture that deifies extroversion as the social norm. In every aspects of our lives, the idea of being a hugely social, lively, chatty person who feeds off the energies of others and spends huge amounts of their free time and energy socialising.
Obviously this isn’t the case for everyone but there seems to be a bit stigma around introverts, moving from childhood ‘shyness’ into the adult moniker of being a ‘loner’ and all the connotations that come with it of being friendless, hating people, being the buzzkills of the party… and on and on it goes.
However, being an introvert is just the flipside to being an extrovert and while the modern world might not be built around us, we’ve got plenty to offer. Here are the key five things you need to know about introverts and being friends with them.
1. Silence around an introvert is okay.
When an introvert is being silent, this is totally alright. We’re not upset, we’re not distressed, believe or not we’re kind of processing everything. Kind of like when a laptop is doing a virus and systems check, we might dip out of proceedings for a while, but then we’re fine again.
Point in fact, when we’re alone, we’re pretty silent anyway, so believe us when we say that it isn’t you. Introverts will dip into the conversation as and when we like but if you try pushing us, you’e just going to make us uncomfortable.
2. The ‘grumpy resting face’ isn’t a bad thing.
The famous resting face which makes people think you’re not having fun. “What’s wrong?” is the most common example of the reaction to an introvert’s expression. Believe it or not, nothing’s actually wrong, it’s just the way our faces are hanging.
It sounds really silly, but chances are if you know a friend is a bit of an introvert, then they’re going to listen more and take in more than they put out. Therefore, while they’re dealing with processing everything, we really are listening and we’re not upset. Being quiet and having a bit of a moody expression – or if not moody, then just sort of expressionless in itself – doesn’t mean we want to be left alone or hate the party. We’re just taking it all in in our own way.
3. Introverts do not hate people.
We don’t hate people. Simple as that. Theres this common misconception portrayed by a lot of the media that if you’re not out every night with a new date on your arm or a drink in your hand, that somehow you hate people and hate socialising and all that jazz. Rubbish. Introverts do enjoy having fun with people and we do like actually going out to places.
The only difference is that we like to be in control of what’s going on. Going to the cinema? Give me at least a few hours notice so that I can mentally schedule some relaxation time with the TV in when I get home. I love people, I really do, as I suspect do most people, but the idea that introverts are these big misanthropes is a bit of a negative cloud that affects the perceptions of introverts.
4. Taking a break is sometimes needed in social situations.
If an introvert is at a party or a social gathering or whatever, chances are that we’ll need to take a break every so often just so all of our social mojo doesn’t get drained througout the evening. We’re not talking a big fifteen-minute excursion away from the party but even five minutes outside can be enough to get us already to get going back into the swing of things.
Why do we need this, you might ask? Well, it ensures that us introverts don’t get so overwhelmed that we stop having fun, because we do enjoy having fun at parties. We just need a little break every so often just for a breath of fresh air, both physically and mentally, and if it gets us back on the dancefloor quickly, then surely that’s no bad thing?
5. Introverts are all about the recharging.
The key thing you need to remember about introverts and extroverts is this: we just recharge in different ways. Think about two different types of battery: a solar-powered battery and a regular phone battery.
The solar-powered battery thrives from being out in the sun all day and being out doing things. It builds up its energy and keeps it going all night. The phone battery gets slowly drained out and about on a daily basis and so needs charging when you get home and you leave it alone.
Extroverts recharge their energy by being around other people and social interactions while being alone drains them. Introverts are simply the opposite. Social interactions, however fun and awesome which they are, drain our battery limit and so we need alone time or relaxation time to charge ourselves up again.
In short: introverts love people and parties and going out just as much as extroverts do. We just need some alone time to recharge ourselves back up to full and optimum working order. That way, we can be right alongside you when the party’s in full good-time-mood and that’s the way I like it.