Even big cities have hidden, quiet areas, and seeking them out is a great way for introverts to recharge.
A city as bustling, aggressive, loud, extroverted, and overly stimulating — like New York City — might seem like a mismatch for an introvert. In many ways it is. It’s a city of hustlers, loud noises, bright lights, concrete, and bad weather. Nature can be sparse, and the crowds of Times Square are just a headache for anyone who actually lives in the city.
Even if you live in another big city, you can probably relate.
Adapting to all of these “extroverted” things as an introvert can be a struggle, and it can take some time to adjust. Once you know how to navigate the city, what to avoid, and how to stand up for your needs, I have to confess — city life can be quite magical for us introverts. This may elicit a massive side eye from my fellow quiet souls, but hear me out.
8 Revelations of an Introvert Living in a Big City
1. Being a wanderer in the city is a great way to recharge.
It’s no secret that we introverts need time to recharge. When I get out of the house, I find that wandering around the city alone is a great way to get my energy back.
I’m not a native New Yorker, so there was a period of time when I was doing a lot of wandering in an effort to explore all that the city had to offer. These solo trips have led me to Brighton Beach, Smorgasburg in Brooklyn (an open-air food market!), and discovering a whole freaking film studio in Astoria that I never knew existed — all just by walking around and being curious.
The need for escapism lives in my spirit as an introvert living in a big city, and taking on this spirit of wander distracts me from its madness. There are hidden corners of each borough, and seeking them out has been a great way to observe, recharge, and be active all at the same time. Overall, I’m able to protect and manage my energy, stay true to my nature, and feel like I am a part of the city without getting swept up in anything too overstimulating.
Now, don’t walk around the city like an oblivious fool being unaware of your surroundings — that’s not a good look, and that’s not what I’m saying. Be smart, stay in crowded areas, and don’t wander into places you shouldn’t be in. Just have fun (while staying safe).
2. Artist lofts can be hidden gems of peace and solitude.
As introverts, our living spaces are sacred havens to us, and with a loft, you can create a space for yourself that makes you forget you are even living in the city.
Artists in NYC have this amazing ability to cultivate their own spaces in the city. There are many lofts in NYC where artists of all backgrounds live together. They are typically large spaces with big ceilings, open windows, and natural light. You don’t have to even be an artist to live in, or appreciate, these spaces, as lofts are very transformative and can be what you want them to be.
Some of these spaces aren’t necessarily… um, listed — but I mention them because sometimes they are located in more secluded parts of the boroughs, which means they are quiet. You have your solitude outside of the bustling and loud parts of the city, and you can really enjoy a sense of “slow living” with these large, inspirational spaces.
I remember living in a loft that was in a sequestered part of Brooklyn. I went to sleep and woke up in complete silence every day: no horns honking and no loud noises or people screaming. The natural light from my windows gave me so much inspiration, and the large living space made up for the claustrophobic feeling that can often come with city life. It was a dream.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the $6 million lofts in SOHO. The lofts I’m speaking about tend to be more unorthodox spaces for creative souls and those looking for an alternative space to live. This is not for everyone, it’s an acquired taste for sure, but it can be an opportunity for us introverts to meet our needs in spaces that tend to be a bit more spacious, quiet, and secluded.
3. My anonymity is protected.
NYC is built for anonymity. There are so im many people that you are always a stranger to someone. Even famous people become invisible because they are just one of thousands trying to get where they need to go (or are just in a rush to get home). Often, people barely look up and make eye contact, and literally no one sees you.
That’s freedom for an introvert, since you don’t have to conform to any one way of being. No one is paying any attention to you, and they’re probably looking past you. This isn’t to say you aren’t special, but with the number of people who live in NYC, anonymity can be a real asset. It allows you to exist without the pressure to comply, and to reinvent yourself when you want to.
4. It’s nice not to have to smile or socialize with strangers.
There is something liberating about being able to roll your eyes at a complete stranger who isn’t walking fast enough. In a city where it’s socially acceptable to tell someone to get the hell out of the way, it can be nice to take part in that attitude when needed. That’s not a side of myself that I typically get to express, so it can be refreshing, I’m not going to lie.
You also don’t have to worry about smiling! Forget smiling! In fact, it’s better if you don’t because you don’t want to be bothered most of the time when you’re in the city or on the subway. As we introverts know, a smile can be an invitation to make small talk — no thanks!
In big-city life, there is no pressure to be nice or approachable to every person you come across, which is such a relief.
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5. I feel like I fit in.
In NYC, I’ve met people who live their lives and think in ways that I could have never imagined. It has opened my eyes and made me realize I know less than I thought I did. As open-minded as I think I am, my opinions, perceptions, and ideas have often been shattered.
In New York — and other big cities, I imagine — your quirky introversion is not weird. I mean, there are people who walk down the street in their underwear for a living. Your needs or temperament as an introvert are far from the craziest thing people have ever heard of.
People may still not fully understand your need to be alone, but “your people” — those who “get” you — exist somewhere in the city. You may have to do your due diligence to find them, but you are not as alone as you think.
6. I am brilliant at networking in NYC… sort of.
Many come to NYC to build their network, as it is easier to be in close proximity to influential people. This makes networking as an introvert easier than you think. Before you stop reading, hear me out: With this type of accessibility, you can be “quietly visible.” Merely showing up to places consistently or hanging out in areas that people in your industry hang out in can get you seen and connected to the right people.
For my introverted soul, this is perfect for me. I have collected business cards, exchanged information, and connected with people who I’m excited to establish relationships with. None of this requires me to burst into a room with a thousand business cards or to beg people to follow me on social media. It definitely doesn’t require me to be the loudest person in the room (thank God). It just requires me to be my quiet, observant, and introverted self.
7. City life taught me how to stand up for myself.
This might seem cliché, as people often say that living in NYC can make you tough, but there is truth to it. I found that New York City can take a lot out of you, and it is necessary for your survival to stand up for yourself.
I’m not suggesting introverts cannot stand up for themselves, though many do struggle with it. A city as aggressive and fast-paced as NYC truly taught me how to stand up for my needs and unapologetically demand things to maintain my peace and self-respect.
I mention this because I never intended to go to NYC to learn this about myself, but I surprised myself many times when I found myself sticking up for myself in small ways and finding a strength in me that I didn’t know was there. These moments have left me feeling empowered and continue to inspire me in moments of difficulty.
8. At any time, you can leave the big city for a quieter one.
When the city gets too overwhelming, you can leave. You are a hop, skip, and a jump away from other states, land, trees, and nature (an elixir for introverts). A cozy Airbnb in Connecticut, a bus ride to Massachusetts, or a hiking adventure right outside the city are at your disposal.
I’m aware some of these things come with a certain amount of privilege and money. “Getting out of the city” could also mean spending a day at other introvert-friendly places: a beach in Brooklyn, or a museum, library, or trendy coffee shop.
The Key to City Life Is Finding Things That Suit Your Introverted Nature
For some introverts, living in NYC — or any big city — will go against your nature and just won’t be a good fit. I managed to find things that made me happy, suited my temperament, and catered to my needs. Yes, you have to put in a bit of work to make all this happen and find your flow, but it is possible.
Lastly, as an introvert living in the city, be intentional. Make city living work for you; otherwise, you are just wasting your energy, and we introverts just can’t have that.
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