What It's Like to Be a Social Introvert
I'll be really honest with you guys, this is one topic that gets me so excited and I could probably talk your ear off about it if you'd let me.
The reason why is because so many people mislabel social introverts as extroverts. It took me almost two years into college to realize that I can be an introvert and still be chatty and like people.
It's so fascinating how people think being introverted vs being extroverted works. So let's define them, shall we? It actually has to do with how your brain is stimulated. An introvert is someone who gained energy from being alone whereas an extrovert is someone who gains energy from social interactions with other people.
It does not say, "All introverts are shy and quiet" or "All extroverts talk all the time and are super outgoing."
So. If we go by the description above, you can be an extrovert who doesn't talk a lot or isn't super outgoing or commanding and you can be an introvert who does all of those things. Why? Because your personality isn't determined by whether you gain energy from being around people or not.
Today though, I'm going to focus on being a social introverts because that's what I am and that's what I know. I'll be sharing some of my personal experiences and what it's like in general to be a social introvert and who knows? Maybe you'll realize you're a social introvert too.
People Constantly Think You're an Extrovert
I talk a lot. I love having conversations with people because I think people and their lives as a general whole are so interesting. Because of this, back in high school and the first couple years of college, everyone told me I was an extrovert. "You talk so much, you're definitely an extrovert." I believed it because I didn't know any better and spent so much of that time just being completely exhausted because I didn't know how to take care of myself. I didn't start taking care of myself and taking rest time until after I took the Myers-Briggs test and got INFJ.
I'm not saying I'm an introvert to sound cool. I'm saying that because I am and if I don't acknowledge it, I will be useless to the world around me as a functioning adult.
Being social and chatty doesn't mean you're an extrovert. It just means that you enjoy meaningful conversations and meeting new people even if you know it will exhaust you.
You Get Torn Between Going Out and Staying Home
If someone invites me to go out to a bar or to a party, I take a lot time to figure out whether or not I want to go. On one hand, I want to go, I miss my friends, it'll be fun. etc. On the other, I know that if I go, I'm going to be tired afterwards and useless for other social events for the next couple of days.
You Cancel a Lot of Plans Last Minute
In my experience, most introverts typically wait for the other person to cancel as to not hurt feelings, whereas social introverts have no shame in texting you the morning of and being like, "Actually, I'm too tired. Can we do this later?"
Sometimes, as a social introvert, I'll overcommit and make a bunch of social plans all in the same week and will run out of energy before making it to some of them. I would rather cancel the morning of, then you get a tired, energy-less version of myself. If I can't be fully present and excited to be there, it's not happening that day.
This really only applies to things like friend hang outs or parties or going out on the town. I don't mean if it's something like a big event (wedding, funeral, baby shower, etc.) or someone who's moving or I haven't seen in forever. I will find energy or tap into emergency energy for those.
Small Talk is My Number One Enemy
I HATE small talk. It's exhausting. I would rather hear about your entire life from the time you were born to now instead of that shallow bullshit. I don't care about the weather, I don't care about what you ate for lunch, I want to know the deep intimate stuff. Tell me about your relationship, tell me about your business or funny stories from work, tell me about how you hate your cousin's partner, tell me the good stuff, I WANT THE TEA.
I Thrive in One on One or Small Group Situations
You put me in a room full of people and I will burn out in about an hour or two, especially if I don't know some of them. You put me at a table with two or three of my friends? Now we're talking! One of my best friends came over last week and we literally talked about seven hours and I was completely fine. You let me hang out with my husband Ryan and I will be 1000% fine for like four days until I need a break (we learned this during quarantine lol).
People Get Concerned When I Stop Talking
Whenever I get tired from socializing, I tend to get really quiet, calm, and more reserved. This, for some reason, freaks people out. Let me clarify this now, just because I stopped talking and am trying to take a minute for myself doesn't mean I'm mad, upset, etc. It just means my social meter is empty and I probably need to go home, eat a snack, and take a nap.
I've Learned My Social Energy Needs
Different people take different amounts of social energy. Different social gatherings take different amounts of social energy. Going to work take a different amount (and kind) of social energy. Part of being a social introvert means that I've gotten used to stretching out using the amount of energy needed to get through something without getting tired in the middle of it.
I know how to disperse my social energy at a wedding without the tired hitting me until I'm in the car going home. I know how much energy I need to have before I hang out a friend that might require more energy from me. I've learned how to charge up my social meter before a ten hour shift at the bar so that I can be energetic and engaging with my customers.
As a social introvert, you learn these things because if you don't, you will get too excited and use too much energy too quickly and wear yourself out before things even get started.
Recovery Days are Extremely Vital and I Love Them
We get tired too, and recovery days are crucial for us, probably even more so then your stereotypical introvert. Here's why I say that. Social introverts talk a lot, go out of their way to have a conversations with people, and are constantly agreeing to hang out and do stuff because we love socializing. That's a LOT socially, so even if you know how to disperse your energy well, you're still going to be tired at the end of it.
I love rest days. I love being home by myself or just me, my husband, and the cats. Now I don't like being idle, I have this terrible need to always feel productive, but having that solitary time to just do me things is phenomenal. Aside from messing with my health, this quarantine has been great. I've had four months of just me. I miss socializing and hanging out with people, but I've got FaceTime and Zoom, etc.
In conclusion, introverts are a wonderfully diverse group of people whose personalities can range from chatty to not, from outgoing to shy, comfortable in large groups to not, and anything else you can think of.
The next time someone who talks a lot and is super outgoing tells you that they're an introvert and they need some alone time and rest, don't invalidate that just because on the outside, it looks like a different story. People are usually really good about identifying their own needs.
Take a shot for all the people who told me I was extroverted and toast to learning how to take care of your brain needs.