8 Confessions of an Extreme Introvert

An introvert makes some heartfelt confessions.

If I come across as rude, it’s not that I don’t like you. As a very introverted person, I’m probably just uncomfortable.

It’s difficult being an introvert in a world that only works smoothly if you’re an extrovert. You’re expected to perform well in large groups, socialize often, speak up loudly, and be outgoing. As a highly introverted person, I get mentally and physically fatigued doing all of those things on a daily basis.

Here are eight things I wish people knew about me as an extreme introvert who also experiences social anxiety. Fellow “quiet ones,” can you relate?

Confessions of an Extreme Introvert

1. If I come across as rude, it’s not that I don’t like you. I’m probably just uncomfortable.

Some assume that I don’t like people because I don’t talk or smile much when I first meet them. It’s never my intention to be rude or cold, it’s just that there are a thousand things running through my head at the moment: “What should I say?” “What do you think of me?” and “Do I look like a hot mess right now?” And so on.

I’m quiet around the people I don’t know well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like them. As an extreme introvert, I’m just uncomfortable when meeting new people. Honestly, sometimes just being around new people overwhelms me and I freeze up.

It’s easy for my extroverted friends to chat with strangers and make new friends at practically a moment’s notice. But for me, it’s like I need a month in advance to mentally prepare! And even if I did get that advanced notice, when the day arrived, I probably still would not feel ready.

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2. I love being alone but I hate the loneliness.

As an introvert, I enjoy doing things by myself. I go shopping on my own. I go to coffee shops on my own. I go to the movies on my own — and I absolutely love it. I don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable being alone in public. Honestly, it’s my preferred state. I love watching everything going on around me and being alone with my own thoughts.

However, as much as I relish being alone, there are times when I crave the love, company, and affection of other human beings. Although I say that I don’t mind doing things alone, sometimes I wish I had someone to do those things with me.

You know, doing what friends do.

You see, no one likes being lonely, even if they’re extremely introverted. We “quiet ones” need close relationships and strong connections in our life, too.

3. Small talk makes me nervous.

I despise small talk because I don’t know how to act around small talk. Usually, when people engage me in chitchat, I give short answers like “oh” and “yeah.” As a result, I think I unintentionally come across as aloof or rude.

Little by little, I’m getting better at making conversation, because it can be a joy to talk with someone who “gets” me. But to be completely honest, I still get nervous chatting about the weather or my weekend plans. It makes my heart beat fast, and later, I think about how I acted in the conversation. Sometimes I beat myself up for not knowing what to say or do. I know not every introvert experiences social anxiety, but it’s my reality every day.

I actually prefer deep conversations straight away.

Ask me what I think of the latest news. Ask me what I think of Freud. Ask me what I think about global warming. Oddly, I can answer those questions without feeling the least bit awkward.

4. I wish I had more close friends.

I have a small group of good friends. They are people who I feel comfortable being around, so I almost always hang out exclusively with them. But if I’m being honest, I wish I had more people that I could hang out with. Yet this goes back to #1 — I feel uncomfortable meeting new people.

Honestly, there are times when I wish people would approach me instead of me having to approach them. That may seem like a strange thing for an extreme introvert to say, but it’s easier for me when other people take the lead in social situations.

Because of this challenge, I finished four years of college with hardly any friends. I may say that, as an extreme introvert, I’m fine with it, but I actually regret not making more of an effort to meet people. Again, it’s a skill I’m working to improve, but like any new skill, it takes time.

5. Even though I love him, dealing with my extroverted boyfriend can be stressful.

I love my extroverted boyfriend but sometimes it drains me to be with him.

He often wants to do things that I would not do in a million years, and he struggles to understand why I’d rather stay home than go out and “explore,” as he calls it. He wants me to meet his friends and family, but I get extremely anxious just thinking about doing that. Sometimes he tells me about social plans last minute, which gives me little time to mentally prepare.

One time, I hyperventilated so hard at the thought of meeting his family that I couldn’t breathe.

But in the end, I did meet his family, and they were amazing. Actually, everything went fine. As an extreme introvert, I tend to overthink and over-analyze things. I’m learning that they don’t turn out as bad as I imagined they would.

6. I stay home to avoid the sensory overload.

People overwhelm me, especially a large crowd of them at a restaurant, bar, or mall. So I often stay home to avoid them. Even when there’s nothing for me to do at home, I still might not go out because I cannot deal with the sensory overload from stepping outside my house. It’s not that I hate all those people, it’s the noise and the flurry of activity that I hate.

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.

7. I perform poorly when I have people’s full attention on me.

I took German as a foreign language when I was in college, and the final assessment was to give a presentation about a topic in German. I would say that my German-language skills are strong, but when it came to the presentation, it suddenly felt like I had never encountered that language in my life.

I screwed up, stuttered, and completely forgot what I wanted to say, even though I had practiced for hours. My heart beat so fast that I swear the only thing I could hear was my own heart beating.

Not only in German class, but also in my other modules that required an in-class presentation, I struggled.

Taking tests, absorbing lectures, and writing essays came easily to me. And I often found myself thinking about the class material long after class was over. But as an extreme introvert who experiences social anxiety, I don’t do well when people’s full attention is on me. I hate people looking at me like that — all that attention simply overstimulates me. It makes me feel naked and vulnerable.

8. I’m an emotional person but sometimes I struggle to show it.

I have a lot of strong emotions. I love my friends and family deeply, and life can be very moving and meaningful to me. But sometimes I don’t know how to express my feelings. As an extreme introvert, I keep a lot of my thoughts and feelings to myself, even when I wish I could find a way to share them with others.

When it comes to anger and stress, sometimes my feelings come out in strange or awkward ways. When I get upset, I might shut everyone out and cry on and off. When I’m angry, I might take it out on some innocent person who happens to be within my reach.

Learning to control my own emotions and not let them control me, as well as taking meditation classes, is helping me immensely. It’s a process, but I’m getting there.

It isn’t easy being an introvert living in a world geared toward extroverts. But as I learn more about my introversion — and give myself permission to be myself — I’m finding ways to navigate this loud world nevertheless. And you can too, dear introvert.

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