7 Nervous Habits Every Introvert Knows Too Well

A nervous introvert uses her phone as a distraction

Although introverts generally don’t like the phone, it comes in handy to “rescue” them when they get nervous at a social event.

There’s a common misconception that every introvert is socially anxious, and every person with social anxiety is an introvert. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a study from 2020 found that a group of individuals with moderate to high extroversion showed the greatest levels of social anxiety. Introverts have spent a long time dispelling the myth that they are all cut from the same cloth — that every introvert suffers from social anxiety or has inept social skills.

This being said, everyone gets nervous. Introverts often feel greater unease in social situations than extroverts do, as they are out of their element and expected to adhere to social guidelines that aren’t compatible with their personality. And when that social meter runs out… we introverts are out of there!

Every introvert has been in this situation before. I know that I have! In these moments, these nervous habits start showing up in even the most confident introvert! Here are some of them.

7 Nervous Habits Every Introvert Knows Too Well

1. They avoid phone calls.

As an introvert, I have to say: Phone calls are the worst. If possible, I try to avoid them at all costs. Such is the case for many introverts. Phone calls are a magnet for small talk. There’s nothing worse than those few moments after answering or placing a call where you have to make awkward chit-chat before discussing the reason for the call. 

Another reason why phone calls are so unpleasant for introverts is the lack of face-to-face contact. It’s hard to judge a person’s reactions from their voice alone. Physical communication  is just as important to introverts as verbal communication. 

There are also those times when people call you… out of the blue! Um, no thanks! I wasn’t prepared…

Unfortunately, this means a lot of introverts avoid phone calls out of discomfort. I’m super guilty of putting off phone calls, especially when it’s an important (but unpleasant) one. But — our phones sometimes come in handy…

2. They use their phone as a welcome distraction.

There’s nothing worse for an introvert than being at a function and feeling their social meter run out. Once they are running on empty, an introvert is barely able to trudge through the rest of the event. Socializing becomes almost intolerable. In these cases, many introverts resort to the first distraction available: their cell phone.

As we all know, introverts generally don’t like the phone — at least, not for calls. But cell phones provide a great buffer between an introvert and an uncomfortable social situation. Introverts are typically found mindlessly scrolling through social media in corners of parties, pretending that they’re busy — all to avoid dreaded small talk. 

I would be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes open and close my calculator app just to appear busy. Desperate times certainly call for desperate measures!

3. They avoid eye contact or don’t maintain it for too long.

Not all introverts are shy or have social anxiety, but some do. Introverts who truly feel uncomfortable in crowds often have a hard time maintaining eye contact — plus, they don’t want to encourage others to talk to them. 

Although most introverts prefer one-on-one conversations to small talk, even the former may be tough for anxious introverts, as it requires quite a bit of prolonged eye contact. And even introverts who have no problem with eye contact may find themselves drifting off or zoning out when they’d rather retreat to their safe space — i.e., home.

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4. They have a hard time contributing to conversations.

Introverts are highly thoughtful and analytic individuals. They often prefer to observe than participate in social situations. So when it comes time to talk, introverts can have a hard time speaking their mind, not to mention speaking up at all. This is especially true when engaging in conversations with extroverts, who are more talkative, unreserved, and — let’s face it — intimidating.

When they are ready to contribute, introverts often aren’t sure how to assert themselves in a conversation. As a result, they might actually choose to stay quiet, even when they’re bursting at the seams to say something.

This may be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. Introverts are often very focused and introspective and consider their words carefully before speaking. The words “think before you speak” have become an unofficial literal mantra for introverts.

5. They bite their nails (or have some other kind of nervous tic).

I feel that nail-biting is a common nervous habit among introverts, shy people, and individuals with social anxiety. (Or maybe it’s just me.) For some, it manifests as a nervous reaction to socializing. But while we tend to associate nail-biting with anxiety, it isn’t always so. 

When getting lost in their expansive web of thoughts, introverts can fall victim to nail-biting… or fidgeting… or some other kind of tic or body language that indicates they’re uncomfortable. While they may love to let their head float up into the clouds, they may not love their subconscious nervous tics on display for all to see.

6. They daydream… a lot

This leads us to another nervous habit among introverts: Daydreaming.

Sure, daydreaming isn’t always associated with nervousness. It can be a purely harmless or even unintentional activity — and often is. Introverts are known for getting lost in thought, especially more so than their extroverted counterparts. But, sometimes, daydreaming might be a welcome distraction used to dissociate from social situations that an introvert is seeking an escape from.

I know that for myself, daydreaming is my favorite tool for dipping out of conversations when my social meter expires. It’s easy to drift away to far-off thoughts and places to seek comfort in uncomfortable moments. 

7. They stand on the sidelines.

Ah, the dreaded social gathering. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an introvert at a social gathering will do whatever they can to steer clear of the spotlight. This often means drifting away from bigger groups or anything that calls attention to them. 

Usually, you’ll find particularly overwhelmed introverts gravitating to the physical or metaphorical sidelines — dark corners of the room, quiet conversations away from the crowd, or anywhere else they can hide.

Unfortunately, this habit means that introverts are sometimes excluded from the “room where it happens.” Hiding can put introverts at ease, but it also leaves them out of these big conversations where decisions get made. Networking can also be difficult when introverts are dying to stay out of the limelight. (Thankfully, this is easier to do online these days, but still.)

Fellow introverts, do you relate to any of these habits? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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