For some reason, you said yes to the big party. Maybe it was guilt, maybe you got caught off guard. Either way, it seemed like a decent idea at the time. Now you’re here, surrounded by people you barely know, and you tell yourself you should be having fun like everyone else — but instead you feel lonely. More lonely than if you were at home alone. Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, explains that big-party socializing just doesn’t feel meaningful to the introvert:
An introvert may feel asocial when pressured to go to a party that doesn’t interest her. But for her, the event does not promise meaningful interaction. In fact, she knows that the party will leave her feeling more alone and alienated. Her social preference may be to stay home and reflect on a conversation with a friend, call that friend, and come to an understanding that is meaningful to her. Or she might indulge in the words of a favorite author, feeling a deep connection with a person she has never met. From the perspective of a partygoer, this introvert may appear to be asocial, when, in fact, the introvert is interacting in a much different way.
What is meaningful for introverts? One-on-one interactions with people we care about and time between conversations to reflect:
Because the introvert is oriented to the inner world, she ‘takes to heart’ something a good friend says and needs time to reflect before responding. This can happen during a relaxed talk, but, for the introvert, the understanding deepens during the time between conversations. If we think of each person as having a finite amount of interpersonal space, an extrovert is more like a hotel — able to accommodate a large number of interactions that come and go. Note that I said interactions, not people. Extroverts are often able to accommodate more people as well, but because extroverts wrap up interactions in the interaction, even a close friend may check in and check out as needed. An introvert may have the same square footage, but each meaningful interaction is reserved in its own luxury suite, awaiting the follow-up interaction. Bookings are more limited.
Sometimes we can’t avoid the big party, especially during the holidays, when doing so would make us seem like a social Grinch. But this holiday season, let’s remember to make time for the type of meaningful socializing that actually energizes us.
Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.
Read more quotes