Sure, we may smile as we greet you, but honestly, we’re not feeling happy — we’re anxious!
To introverts, too much socializing is draining and feels like a chore. It’s one thing when we’re in comfortable environments — such as when we’re around our closest family and friends — and a different thing altogether when we’re conversing with everyone else. Having to engage in conversations we may not want to engage in is the equivalent of being a fish out of water: It puts us in a state of shock and we may find it very difficult to come up with things to talk about. As a result, we become in desperate need of an escape to reach equilibrium again.
Essentially, big social events (like work parties, networking events, or family reunions with distant relatives) stretch introverts thin. To put this into perspective, let’s discuss what introverts might think during — and after — socializing.
All the Weird Thoughts Introverts Have Before and After Socializing
1. Another social gathering? Really?!
It doesn’t matter if the last one was a week ago or five years ago — an introvert’s thought process is still the same. There’s probably a 90 percent chance we don’t want to go in the first place! We’ll make sure that our best friend — of course, I mean our cell phone — is fully charged, because that phone is going to get us through the event.
We introverts will (usually begrudgingly) attend the event, saying “Hi” to the numerous faces we see, secretly hoping people don’t notice the “Oh my gosh, there’s so many people here” vibe we’re giving off. The “Hi, nice to see you” exchange we give is our version of acknowledging everyone, but if you’re like me, you can’t help but feel you’re sounding fake in the process. Sure, we may smile as we greet you, but honestly, we’re not feeling happy — we’re anxious!
When it comes down to it, we slowly engage with only a few of those people beyond the “Hi” conversation level, because that is as much as our social battery can tolerate. Personally, my mind is so focused on how uncomfortable I am — and where I would rather be, and what I would rather be doing — that I often don’t have much energy left to initiate a lasting conversation.
We may feel guilty and awful at this point, because it’s been some time since we last saw this person, so we should be able to find things to talk about… but we just can’t. Either we don’t want to share personal information — or even if we tried to share something, the words may not come out as eloquently as we’d imagined in our head.
So… this is where our phones come in handy: We can check emails, read the news, respond to a text or two… But, eventually, we may feel silly. After all, we can only spend so much time on our phone without appearing rude. Plus, it can only entertain us for so long. (Shout-out to my fellow introverts right now who are experiencing any muscle tightness upon reading this!)
2. Thank goodness for distractions, like food. (Can’t talk — I’m busy eating!)
At social events, introverts appreciate any distractions they can get. When the food is ready, I sigh with relief because I no longer feel as pressured to maintain a conversation. Now that it’s time to eat, I can focus on the taste of the food, the moments of silence that chewing and swallowing bring, and my eating etiquette instead of having to stare into someone’s eyes and fumble over my words.
My fellow introverts know to avoid eye contact as much as possible, as eye contact pretty much guarantees conversation. And conversations can get awkward after everyone’s done with their food, so we might combat this by eating slowly. Who wants to talk to us now when we have a mouthful of food?! And when we’re done with our food, we’re most likely thinking: Well, we stayed a good amount of time and should probably get going soon.
The moment we see another guest doing the same, we may follow suit, because the attention won’t just be on us leaving, but clearly guests can see multiple people are leaving at once. It’s almost easier for introverts to say their goodbyes — because the thought of leaving is instant gratification.
However, the moment anyone tries to prolong our visit, the more silent daggers we’ll send them, and the more antsy we’ll become. It isn’t until we can escape and we’re walking toward our car that we feel an immense weight has been lifted off our shoulders.
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3. Did I talk enough? Was I boring? Or awkward?
When the party is finally over, it’s not entirely over for us introverts because the conversations that took place replay in our heads for several minutes, hours… and sometimes even days! Personally, I tend to burden myself with overthinking and overanalyzing how the party went (and perhaps even lamenting how bad my social skills were!).
In particular, we introverts may criticize ourselves for not saying this or that, which would’ve made a great comeback or would’ve painted a good picture of what we’ve been up to lately. Or we may assume that certain people labeled us as socially awkward, boring, or not very bright since we barely spoke and didn’t say anything exciting.
When I’m put on the spot, I find that my words are jumbled and/or I lose my train of thought mid-sentence. Or, all of a sudden, I can’t think of the name of the word or thing I’m trying to describe. It’s embarrassing, especially because this happens most often with social encounters. Then, I may spiral, and the thought that every social encounter is just as embarrassing as the previous one can feel defeating.
To quiet my rambling thoughts — and to alleviate any muscle tightness, headaches, or irritability also known as the introvert hangover — I reward myself by indulging in my favorite sweets, movie, project, or dance moves… ALONE, of course! Any social interaction, even texting, can wait. Like all introverts, I use my “me time” to recharge and get grounded again… at least until the next social invite comes my way and I do it all over again!
Fellow introverts, what weird thoughts would you add to the list? Feel free to add them in the comments below.
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You might like:
- 11 Ways to Survive a Social Event as an Introvert
- Why Is Socializing Exhausting for Introverts? Here’s the Science
- 9 Signs You Need Some Alone Time as an Introvert