Many of us introverts truly love connecting with others — and are actually pretty good at it due to our stellar listening skills — but find it very draining under certain circumstances. In fact, when we’re feeling particularly overstimulated, it can lead to a period of extreme introverting, an introvert bender of sorts where all we want to do is hermit and let our energy replenish in peace. During this phase of the introvert cycle, we will keep to ourselves, finding it extremely difficult to work up the energy for even the tiniest of human interactions.
Reflecting on how I feel after I’ve spent time in the company of others — whether by choice or, let’s be real, in some cases necessity — has helped me find humor and understanding in some of the quirkier aspects of being an introvert.
Here’s a breakdown of all the weird thoughts spiraling through my head after I’ve engaged socially.
Thoughts an Introvert Has After Socializing
1. Well, that was awkward.
Yikes. I’m so awkward. I’m awkward when I stand quietly in a circle of people talking. I’m even more awkward when I attempt to chime in and use my words. Where’d my words go? I thought I had something profound to say, but it didn’t come out as eloquently as it sounded in my head. Oh, phew, everyone is still talking and no one heard me anyway.
Why are you people talking so loudly? You really don’t need to stand so close. I will ask you relevant questions to keep the conversation going about what’s new with you, but I’m pretty sure you don’t know my name or anything about me. That’s okay, I don’t really want to talk about myself right now anyway. Me, small talk, not good. Is it time to go home yet?
Feeling awkward in groups is a classic introvert conundrum. For me, it occurs mostly after I’ve taken a gamble and entered a setting where there are lots of people I don’t know well. What was I thinking?
More-the-merrier gatherings are probably my least favorite kind of gathering, and the type of socializing that takes the most energy. I really have to psyche myself up to even enter the pool when I know I’m going to be wading in a sea of strangers.
I find that most of the time, I’m just not that interested in small talk. Or perhaps I’m just not that good at it. If I have a close friend or two in the mix, it isn’t so bad, but if I’m flying solo with a bunch of acquaintances, it can be hard for me to get comfortable enough to initiate conversation. Often, I express myself better one-on-one.
I’ve discovered that this is usually a sink or swim situation and my best bet is to dive in. Otherwise I’ll be wandering aimlessly on the edge all night. My strategy here is to find a like-minded individual or a small group, and exit the fray for some quieter conversation in a corner.
2. I think I just met my soulmate.
You’re so interesting. I want to know everything about you. I know these questions might be personal, but I’m just gonna go with it. Tell me about your inner child. What brought you to this exact spot, at this exact moment in time?
Wow, you’re asking me questions too and actually seem interested in what I have to say. Sure, let me tell you about my intrinsic motivators. Can we talk about personality theory? Oh, this is so rare and wonderful. Let’s talk for hours. I’m in love.
Good conversation is everything to me. The kind of conversation where the exchange becomes real, real quick. The more intense and revealing the better. I know this is not everyone’s style, and it’s not always the time or place to go deep. But that’s why, when it suddenly happens, it’s so amazing.
The key elements here are a sense of openness, comfort, and genuine interest — coming from both sides. This trifecta of conversation chemistry is hard to come by. When I stumble upon it, I enter an almost euphoric state. Words start spilling out of me. A lingering awkwardness persists, as I start talking really fast and jump from point to point. It’s a form of release, appreciated in its rarity, and a bit surreal.
Basically, I get rather carried away. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but in these moments, I do start fantasizing — briefly — that I’ve found a new best friend or the love of my life. Sure, sometimes these connections do turn into something more, but often it is just what it is — an amazing conversation. And, you know what, I’ll take it.
3. Yep, I’m definitely an introvert.
I can’t wait to get home. How much time do I have to myself before I’m required to see people again? Peopling is hard. I’m tired. I really didn’t say much, did I? Why is listening so undervalued?
I think I’ll stop and get snacks. I wonder what I should watch on Netflix, since I’m definitely going to be up a few more hours decompressing. Lots of thoughts to sift through, and me-time to soak in before sleeping.
I think what strikes me the most after a dip in social waters is just how introverted I am. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy spending time with my friends and meeting new people. I really do. Like anyone, I get lonely when I spend too much time on my own, which I have a habit of doing.
But, even after a nourishing meet-up, I’m always reminded of how imperative it is for me to go back to my own space to reflect and just be by myself. This is truly where my energy comes from. My stores replenish when I’m on my own and are then available to me when it’s time to be social. I can engage much more enthusiastically when my introvert battery is at full capacity. When it’s nearing empty, it’s difficult to enjoy myself around others. I feel cranky, out of place, and just meh.
Often all it takes is a night at home, an introvert weekend, a good yoga session, or a jaunt in nature, and I feel lighter, more alert, and open to sharing space again.
Through many years of trial and error, my introvert mantra has become clear: Seek quality over quantity, balance time alone with time shared, honor your unique needs, and everything will be fine.
Well, most of the time. Sometimes it will be awkward — and that’s okay, too.
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Image credit: @samanthavaughan via Twenty20