Introverts are often expected to conform to the extrovert “norm,” like socializing, vs. attending to their own needs, like having alone time.
As an introvert, I sometimes find it difficult to navigate a world that seems specifically designed for extroverts — even though that shouldn’t be the norm. Because the extrovert ideal is often praised, it can sometimes lead to introverts “faking it” as extroverts. However, doing so works against an introvert’s natural abilities and can cause a variety of issues for them in society.
I’ve spent years trying to adjust, in order to fit extroverted expectations, as well as find acceptance and validation. But all it did was lead me to exhaustion, anxiety, and depression.
When I find people who are unconditionally accepting of us introverts, I feel a sense of peace that wasn’t often present during my formative years. But, sadly, not everyone understands “quiet ones” like me. In essence, I wish society would be more cognizant of introverts and our basic needs, like the following.
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5 Wishes From an Introvert Living in an Extroverted World
1. I wish that interviews were optional — it’s hard to think up responses on the spot.
Meeting people for the first time can be incredibly stress-inducing for any introvert. We spend a significant amount of time alone, and in our heads, so we’re not always in-tune with other people’s expectations of us.
I’ve seen my extroverted husband become a chameleon around new people, adjusting his conversation topics to fit their responses. Yet I struggle to do the same because my brain doesn’t work that way. Interviews can increase these stakes, which adds to the anxiety of interacting with someone new.
In an interview setting, introverts are usually expected to perform and behave as if they’re extroverts. I personally think many people who work as hiring managers lean toward extroversion since the job entails having frequent interactions with new people and assessing their fit in the company. What many extroverts don’t often realize is that introverts aren’t inherently weird or standoffish. But they might appear that way during an initial meeting because the social rules haven’t been clearly established yet. Plus, hiring managers are not in our inner circle of those who “get” us, those we feel most comfortable talking with.
I think extroverts feel interviews are easy and necessary, because they quickly bond with a variety of people and find a common bond with fellow extroverts. My husband has had amazing interview experiences and consistently receives great feedback on his communication skills. Sometimes he’ll go into an interview and derail the person’s questions successfully because he knows how to talk to people. For me, I’ll be shaking and sweaty and say awkward things. I usually have horrible interview experiences — the interviewer will label me as being “off” in some way. Little do they realize I would behave very differently in a more comforting, and open, environment, which interviews inherently cannot provide.
And let’s not even get into when a job requires multiple interviews. (I have anxiety just thinking about it!) Requiring heavy screening processes like this can be nerve-wracking for us introverts more than the initial interview. In the second and third round of interviews, we’re expected to interpret social situations and decode what the interviewer expects us to say and do. Our usual social process might be to stay quiet so we can absorb information and contemplate proper responses. However, interviews don’t nurture that type of interaction. As a result, we “quiet ones” run the risk of being overlooked for a charming extrovert.
2. I wish everyone preferred online communication vs. in-person interactions.
When online dating first became popular, there was a stigma against it since it was seen as not real or genuine because the two people didn’t initially have in-person contact. Over time, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic with more and more people working (and socializing) from home — many of us have used online communication to correspond with others. I’m guessing I’m not the only introvert who’s loved this.
Suffice it to say, as more people go back to work and meet up in person, it’s becoming the “norm” once again. I wish more people enjoyed alternative communication more so than just in-person meetings and get-togethers. Over the years, I’ve realized that communicating online — or through a text message — is often easier for me. Plus, I can have multiple conversation threads going at the same time with various people throughout the day without any issues.
But hanging out in person, one-on-one with someone, can zap all my energy in just a few hours. And this can make it difficult to make new friends or maintain old friendships if they’re not willing to meet me halfway and explore alternate ways to spend time together. I’ve had a few extroverted friends who have refused to communicate over messaging or phone calls, which only leaves meeting up in person as the only option. This often makes the expectations for the friendship too high. After work, chores, and basic worldly demands, I often don’t have the energy to socialize in person. Their inability to be flexible quickly sabotages the friendship since my options are to either completely ignore my wants and needs to meet theirs — or just not ever spend time together. It’s hard to set boundaries, but necessary in order to preserve and protect my introvert energy.
Plus, I’m sure my fellow introverts would agree that talking on the phone is the worst — it’s often much more stimulating than texting (where we can think up thoughts in advance). However, phone calls are still preferable to meeting in person, as they require less energy since I don’t have to leave the house or host someone in my home.
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3. I wish more people liked to read for enjoyment.
Most people tend to enjoy going out or watching TV, which doesn’t always vibe with us introverts. There are plenty of us who love television, but if we have downtime, we may prefer to read instead. Introverts need their quiet time to recharge after interacting in the world, and books can often serve as a wonderful resting, and meditative, space that many people don’t explore.
The reason I wish more people liked to read for pure enjoyment is that I love reading and enjoy discussing books. Reading fiction is one of my favorite activities, but I sometimes find it hard to connect with others when they don’t read at all. Some extroverts I know have even proudly proclaimed they’ve never read a book, which perpetuates the stereotype that reading is boring. I wish more people liked it, because there would be more support for the industry and more spaces to discuss the hobby.
Being a reader also comes with a certain connotation. People make judgments about “avid readers,” but they also judge the types of books people read, too. People who do enjoy reading — but don’t often do it — may lean on classic literature or social commentary pieces, which can be difficult to discuss casually. Those who read for fun, because they enjoy fiction and storytelling, can consume books more quickly; therefore, they have more to discuss and bond over.
4. I wish “team bonding” wasn’t required in work situations.
As many introverts have experienced, workplace relationships can often be difficult to navigate, especially if most of their teammates are extroverted and have little understanding of introversion. I’ve had many coworkers or supervisors ask me why I’m not more friendly or sociable — to them, I probably come off as “rude.” I feel they think I should prioritize socializing with them over my own wants and needs, even outside of work hours. But by that point, I have such little energy left, all I want to do is go home.
This expectation can often create toxic work environments and cause introverts to grow resentful toward their coworkers. In general, team bonding is exhausting, and often a nightmare, for an introvert. It means we have to speak publicly and listen to others talk… or interact with them for hours on end. Expecting to excel at this high-level of socialization — and meet our daily work output — can prove impossible for us.
Team bonding should be optional, and sitting out activities shouldn’t be seen as a slight or an insult. Even compromising might work, like including introverts in an activity, but not forcing (or expecting) them to speak or take action in front of others. These events are often much more anxiety-inducing and tiring for introverts than for extroverts, and that reality should be put into serious consideration. After all, we introverts are just as important as extroverts — we just have different energy levels.
5. I wish people were more accepting of those who need space.
In our extroverted world, introverts are often expected to ignore their need for quiet and alone time; instead, we’re expected to adhere to an extrovert’s need for stimulation. It isn’t fair for us to ignore the signals our minds and bodies send us that we need a break from others — just to satisfy extroverted expectations. I wish that was more easily understood by extroverts.
Boundaries often become crucial for introverts because their need for space isn’t often respected. If more people were accepting of that fact, then introverts wouldn’t feel judged so harshly for needing their coveted alone time. In the past, when I’ve ignored my body and mind’s responses to external stimulation, I’ve had it backfire in a multitude of ways, often significantly impacting my health. Ignoring that to make others happy isn’t realistic — or healthy.
Introverts can’t simply ignore their needs and fake extroversion to fit in, especially for long periods of time. If the world was more considerate and understanding of introverts in everyday society, there would be a higher consideration for mental health in general. Everyone needs alone time to process, even extroverts, but that need is often ignored. Checking in with ourselves and engaging in self-care is important, and an introvert-friendly world might prioritize those needs. I know I do — and will continue to do so.
You might like:
- 10 Secrets of an Introvert Living in an Extroverted World
- The Extrovert Ideal Isn’t the Only Way of Existing
- 7 ‘Rules’ for Sensitive Introverts to Protect Their Energy
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