Have you always felt different? Were you the quiet one in school? Did people ask you, “Why don’t you talk more?” Do they still ask you that today? If so, you might be an introvert like me. Here are 21 signs from my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, that will help you find out.
(What counts as being an introvert? Check out our in-depth explanation.)
Signs You’re an Introvert
1. Your inner monologue never stops.
You have a distinct inner voice that’s always running in the back of your mind — and it’s hard to shut off. Sometimes you can’t sleep at night because your mind is still going. Thoughts from your past haunt you. “I can’t believe I said that stupid thing… five years ago!”
2. You enjoy spending plenty of time alone.
You have no problem staying home on a Saturday night. In fact, you look forward to it. To you, Netflix and chill really means watching Netflix and relaxing. Or maybe your thing is reading, playing video games, drawing, cooking, writing, knitting tiny hats for cats, or just putzing around the house. Whatever your preferred solo activity is, you do it as much as your schedule allows. You feel good when you’re alone. In your alone time, you’re free.
3. You do your best thinking alone.
Your alone time isn’t just about indulging in your favorite hobbies. It’s about giving your mind time to decompress. When you’re with other people, it might feel like your brain is too overloaded to really work the way it should. In solitude, you’re free to tune into your own inner monologue. You might be more creative and/or have deeper insights when you’re alone.
4. You often feel lonelier in a crowd than when you’re alone.
There’s something about being with a group of people that makes you feel disconnected from yourself. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to hear your inner voice when there’s so much noise around you. Whatever the reason, as an introvert, you crave intimate moments and deep connections — and those usually aren’t found in a crowd.
5. You feel like you’re faking it when you have to network.
Walking up to strangers and introducing yourself? You’d rather stick tiny needles under your fingernails. But you know there’s value in it, so you might do it anyway — except you feel like a phony the entire time. If you’re anything like me, you had to teach yourself how to do it. In the moment, you have to activate your “public persona.” You say things to yourself like, “Smile, make eye contact, and use your loud-confident voice!” Then, when you’re finished, you feel beat, and you need downtime to recharge. You wonder, do other people have to try this hard when meeting new people?
6. You have no desire to be the center of attention.
At work, you’d rather pull your boss aside after a meeting and have a one-on-one conversation (or email your ideas) than explain them to a room full of people. The exception is when you feel passionate about something. You’ll risk overstimulation when you think speaking up will truly make a difference.
7. You’re better at writing your thoughts than speaking them.
You’d rather text your friend than call her or email your coworkers than sit down for a staff meeting. Writing gives you time to reflect on what to say and how to say it. It allows you to edit your thoughts and craft your message just so. Plus there’s less pressure when you’re typing your words into your phone alone than when you’re saying them to someone in real time. You may even be drawn to writing as a career.
8. Talking on the phone does not sound like a fun way to pass the time.
One of my extroverted friends is always calling me when she’s alone in her car. She figures that although her eyes, hands, and feet are currently occupied, her mouth is not. Plus, there are no people around — how boring! So she reaches for her phone. However, this is not the case for me. When I have a few spare minutes of silence and solitude, I have no desire to fill that time with chitchat.
9. You avoid small talk whenever possible.
When a coworker is walking down the hall toward you, have you ever turned into another room in order to avoid having a “Hey, what’s up?” conversation with him? Or have you ever waited a few minutes in your apartment when you heard your neighbors in the hallway so you didn’t have to chat? If so, you might be an introvert. It’s not that introverts are afraid of making small talk, it’s just that we’d rather not do it.
10. You’ve been told you’re “too intense.”
This stems from your dislike of small talk. If it were up to you, mindless chitchat would be banished and philosophical discussions would be the norm. You’d much rather sit down with someone and discuss the meaning of life — or at the very least, exchange some real, honest thoughts. Meaningful interactions are the introvert’s antidote to social burnout.
11. You don’t go to parties to meet new people.
Sure, you party every once in a while. But when you do, you usually don’t go with the intention of making new friends. You’re content with the few close friendships you already have.
12. You shut down after too much socializing.
Recent research shows that everyone gets drained from socializing eventually, even extroverts. That’s because socializing expends energy. But introverts likely tire faster than extroverts and experience social burnout with more intensity. They may even experience something that’s been dubbed the “introvert hangover,” which is when they feel extremely fatigued and perhaps even physically unwell after lots of socializing.
13. You notice details that others miss.
Introverts (especially highly sensitive introverts) can get overwhelmed by too much stimuli. But there’s an upside to our sensitivity — we notice details that others might miss. For example, you might notice a subtle change in your friend’s demeanor that signals that she’s upset (but oddly, no one else in the room sees it). Or, you might be highly tuned into color, space, and texture, making you an incredible visual artist.
14. You can concentrate for long periods of time.
I can write for hours. I get in the zone, and I just keep going. If you’re an introvert, you likely have your own hobby or pet project that you can work on for practically forever. That’s because introverts are great at focusing alone for long periods of time.
15. You live in your head.
You might daydream so much that people tell you to “get out of your head” or “come back down to earth.” That’s because your inner world is almost as alive and vivid as the outer one.
16. You like to people watch.
Actually, you just like to observe in general, whether it’s people, nature, etc. Introverts are natural observers.
17. You’ve been told you’re a good listener.
You don’t mind giving the stage to someone else for a bit and listening. You’re not clamoring to get every thought out there, and you don’t need to “talk to think” like many extroverts do.
18. You have a small circle of friends.
You’re close with just one, two, or three people, and you consider everyone else to be an acquaintance. That’s because introverts only have so much “people” energy to spend, so we choose our relationships carefully. It’s about budgeting.
19. You don’t get “high” off your environment.
There’s a reason big parties aren’t your thing: Introverts and extroverts differ significantly in how their brains process experiences through “reward” centers. Check out the science here.
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20. You’re an old soul.
Introverts tend to observe, take in a lot of information, and think before they speak. We’re analytical and reflective, and we’re often interested in discovering the deeper meaning or underlying pattern behind events. Because of this, introverts can seem wise, even from a young age.
21. You alternate between being social and being alone.
Introverts relish being alone. In our solitude, we have the freedom to tune into our inner voice and tune out the noise of the world. But introverts don’t always want to be alone. As human beings, we’re wired to connect with others, and as introverts, we long to interact meaningfully. So introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.
You might like:
- 25 Illustrations That Perfectly Capture the Joy of Living Alone as an Introvert
- 12 Things Introverts Absolutely Need to Be Happy
- 13 ‘Rules’ for Being Friends With an Introvert
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