Overwhelmed introverts may gravitate toward the physical or metaphorical sidelines — the dark corners of the room or anywhere else they can “hide.”
There’s a common misconception that every introvert is socially anxious, and every person with social anxiety is an introvert. 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 may start showing up in even the most confident introvert.
7 Nervous Habits That Introverts Know All Too Well
1. They put off phone calls, even important ones.
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 can be 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 guilty of putting off phone calls, especially when it’s an important (but unpleasant) one. But, our phones sometimes come in handy…
Join the introvert revolution. Subscribe to our emails. One email at a time, we’re empowering introverts and sensitive people to embrace their strengths — and to start seeing their nature as a good thing. You’ll get one email every Friday. No spam. Click here to subscribe.
2. They mindlessly scroll social media to appear busy.
There’s nothing worse for an introvert than being at a social 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 may be 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 call for desperate measures!
3. They avoid eye contact or don’t maintain it for 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 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.
4. They stay quiet, even when they’re bursting at the seams to say something.
Introverts tend to be highly thoughtful and analytical 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 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” are an unofficial mantra for introverts.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
5. They bite their nails (or have some other kind of nervous tic).
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, 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!
You might like:
- 4 Tips for Introverts Who Feel Awkward in Social Situations
- 10 ‘Weird’ Things I’ve Done as a Socially Anxious Introvert
- 4 Meditation Tips for Introverts Who Struggle to Focus
This article contains affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.