An Open Letter to Highly Sensitive Introverts, From a Highly Sensitive Extrovert

IntrovertDear.com highly sensitive introvert letter from extrovert

Dear highly sensitive introverts,

As an extrovert, I’ve known quite a few introverts in my time. I actually used to think I was an introvert myself (turns out I just had really bad social anxiety). However, despite being an extrovert, I usually relate to and connect with introverts better than I do with other extroverts. This is because I’m an ENFP personality type, which is known as the most “introverted” extrovert. Also, like a lot of introverts, I’m a highly sensitive person (30 percent of HSPs are actually extroverts).

My passions, my worldview, and the fact that I occasionally need some days just to myself make me feel more like an introvert at times, despite clearly being extroverted. In other words, what I’m trying to say is, I get it. I may not feel or behave exactly as an introvert, but I’m similar enough that I can relate to your temperament — as well as admire it.

So, coming to you as a kindred spirit, here are five things I think could improve your lives. I’m not going to tell you to turn yourself into an extrovert — in case you think that’s where this is going. Anyone who thinks that everyone should be an extrovert either doesn’t know what introversion and extroversion are, or they are full of themselves. What I’m saying is we can learn from each other. It’s all about balance, right?

1. Stop and actually smell the roses

You see those roses over there? They’re beautiful, aren’t they? You want to admire them, memorize their patterns and scents, and write about them. Well, every now and then, it might be time to put the pen and paper away. Your world may be internal, but the world we all live in is purely external. It’s a beautiful anomaly, but it’s not always something that needs to be dissected or deeply understood. Really, it’s a marvel to be alive. So, at least once every day, take some time to appreciate your surroundings, and simply live. Sometimes the deepest and wisest thing isn’t to turn the fading rose into a metaphor for your coming of age, but instead to just admire it. That memory will still be there when you leave, and there will be other roses just as beautiful to write about later on. But this moment — this moment — only exists in the present.

2. Mr. Gorbachev

That is to say: Take down your walls! I know, introverts tend to be private people. They have a lot of thoughts and emotions, and if they spilled them out constantly, that wouldn’t do any good for anyone. It’s good to have a few walls surrounding your heart, and most people need a few. But I’ve had some introverted friends who have built up more walls than they needed. So, my advice to you is this: Remember that it’s okay to vent sometimes. I understand if you have your reservations about that. People can and will use what you say and do against you, but don’t worry, those people are in the minority. People may be more understanding and compassionate than you think, because they have problems of their own. You don’t have to constantly be spouting a poetic elaboration of your feelings and #deepthoughts either. You want to be taken seriously, I know, but indulging in some surface level things and loosening up a bit won’t harm your credibility. Trust me. I’m an absolute goof. But despite being silly sometimes, people will still hear what you have to say, and they’ll listen, despite the fact that you might not outwardly give the impression of someone who should be listened to.


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3. Your feelings seem overwhelming

And that’s because they are. You don’t have trouble dealing with your emotions because you’re weak; you have trouble dealing with them because your emotions are so damn strong. As a highly sensitive introvert, you feel very deeply, and what you feel often defines you. It’s how you build your worldview and know right from wrong. Your emotions drive you, but they also pain you. Unfortunately, humans weren’t made right; we’re irreversibly dysfunctional. That is to say: There is no perfect human, and we all have parts of ourselves that don’t work ideally. You may wish you didn’t feel so much — that you could be one of those strong thinkers that let their cold logic determine their emotions. But who would you be without your values? Without your ideals? Your personal aspirations? Sadly, all of those wonderful, beautiful things come at a cost, and that is pain.

As a highly sensitive introvert, you have an amazing ability to dig deeper into things than most people can and to touch people in ways that many can’t. You often know exactly what others need to heal, and that’s purely because you’ve been there, and it hurt so much. Yes, you have your scars, scars from a pain that seemed far too overwhelming when it was still an open wound. But here’s the bright side: Your scars match somebody else’s open wounds. You have a great ability to heal, and that is simply because you know how painful it is to feel like you can’t be healed.

4. You aren’t always right

Introverts tend to have very strong values, and that’s great. But sometimes it isn’t so great, because many introverts base their values too heavily on themselves. You can decide what’s right or wrong for yourself, but you don’t get to decide what is right or wrong for everyone else. Remember: Your world is not the world. What you feel is a good basis for your values and beliefs, but you should be able back up your opinions with reason and fact. You can’t get mad at people for not taking you seriously when you can’t justify anything beyond, “I feel like it’s true.”

For example, I once had an introverted friend who had the stubborn belief that it was irresponsible and immoral to keep a child from an unplanned pregnancy if you didn’t have your life figured out. No matter what anyone said, she couldn’t be convinced to even consider another perspective. Well, sophomore year of college, she got pregnant, and she ended up keeping the child. Her viewpoint changed so drastically and immediately that she couldn’t deny it was based on anything other than blind faith.

Introverts, I know it can hurt to be wrong, but sometimes you have to be willing to be wrong. Being wrong on your moral judgment may feel immoral, but it’s not. Refusing to give up an immoral belief out of self-preservation is.

5. I love you

I know I said some tough stuff, so can I just say now that introverts are amazing? From an extrovert to an introvert, thank you for existing. Introverts have this natural calm, controlled energy that most extroverts lack. Introverts tend to give the best advice and the best hugs, and you’re always there for me when I want to be alone with someone else in the room. We don’t need to talk so much. Being in the same room is usually enough, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

Your extroverted friend,

Torin

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Read this: 16 Small Difficult Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Introvert


  • Xerosnake90 .

    Wow, this is my first introduction to this website and I want to thank you for the words you said. I relate to being highly sensitive and an introvert. The terms are relatively new to me but they are helping explain why I am the way I am. I’m not sure if I’m an extrovert with social anxiety or just introverted all together. Maybe a mix, who knows. I love to socialize with people I’m “close” to and feel comfortable with. I CAN socialize with strangers about anything. I just prefer to be left alone most of the time. I read constantly or watch some type of media. I like to sing and play guitar, but doing either in front of people is excruciating. Sometimes I go out of my comfort zone and it can be rewarding, most parties I want to leave from unless I’m quite drunk and talking to a woman lol. I feel like unless I’m “in my zone” that I’m not fully confident in wanting to interact with things and people.

    Anyway, very well written and very kind. Thank you for your words.

  • Natalie Muller (Feejeemermaid

    I’m not sure how much of this advice actually covers introverts, rather it seems more aimed at specific functions that can be poorly developed in both introverts and extroverts.

    The first point seems an encouragement to choose Se over Ni, which seems fine “get out of your head a little”, the problem is that my lowest function is Se which means that it gets overwhelmed very easily, to the point that I actively try to reduce outside stimulation if I am exposed to too much stimuli. This doesn’t mean that I don’t notice things the problem is that I notice too much and have to block some of it out. Meanwhile my introverted functions are Ni and Ti, which means I need lots of alone time to process what I have experienced, without that I get very stressed.

    My Ni and Ti processes do mean that my internal world is far more logical and cold even than Fi users, as an Fe I actually have to think about how I feel before I can tell you, usually I don’t even notice until it becomes derailed by stress or external conflict. This difference is best explained in the way I and my ENFP partner respond to new music, He feels the music and determines if he like it, I as an INFJ have to understand the music and how it works before I can determine if I like it or not.

    As for being always right, or thinking oneself so, that is certainly a Si trait, because Si’s use their past and tradition to determine what will happen in the future as a result they have a very conservative mindset. However, while INFJ,and INTJ, will both have strong opinions and judgements on things, but rather than rely on feelings to justify their world view they will argue you into the ground with logic to prove it, e.g. Martin Luther King or Lenin. Though sometimes our thought processed are not explained well and we give the impression that we just called you stupid for not understanding that we made an intuitive leap and discarded information that you would see as necessary to get to the same conclusion.

    Sorry this is so long, but you did encourage letting down of walls, but sometimes those walls are no there to protect us, but to protect you. What might seem an impregnable fortress to you, is to us, the cage we keep the dragon in.

  • Making Lemonade

    Thanks for this Torin. I’m an infj and hsp, and I needed to hear some of these. I’d like to get your advice on asking for and accepting criticism.

  • CC

    gee, how unusual, an Extrovert telling Introverts how they could improve.

    • Joey B.

      I don’t see the need for an us vs them attitude. All of us, regardless of our dominant cognitive function, have something to bring to the table. 🙂

    • Sherry

      Yeaa I agree… why can’t each just understand that we are all different individuals whether intervert or extrovert …. it isn’t that being an intervert needs improvement or learning social skills… it is just plainly simply means we are different and experience the world and things and people around us differently…. and that’s ok!!!! We don’t need to be fixed….or improved… Why can’t we just be who we are with understanding of this? It’s ok to be who we are!!!

  • Karilisa

    Thank you Torin for this. I am an INFJ and my sister is an ENFP who understands me best of anyone in the world. Your words remind me of the permission she is always offering to me to relax into who I am. I do struggle with appreciating the here and now sometimes (but with awareness that is getting better) because my mind is always planning for the future. And, my walls, yes, they are strong and not easily breached. I sometimes wish I could let them down but it is rare that I feel safe enough to do so completely. That is probably due to my emotions which you helpfully state can be overwhelming for anyone. True, I often believe I am right, but an ENFP can usually help me see other perspectives. I admire the ability of an ENFP to connect with and draw out all types of people. I love quiet time with others but if I am in a social situation it is great to have an ENFP by my side.