The signs were all there. I never had a large group of friends. You name the year, and I can tell you who was my go-to friend. Friend — not plural. I am a one-friend at a time kind of woman. Parties literally made me squeamish. Of course, none of this dawned on me until I became a mother.
It started with mom groups and revved up from there. Like a slow roller coaster building momentum, I was thrown into a world of birthday parties, play dates, and idle chitchat.
Why was I so exhausted after a birthday party? Why did I pick the empty seat three seats away from the boisterous mothers at the park? Was something wrong with me? Was I insecure?
No, I was just an introvert in denial. Apparently I had been in denial my entire life. It took me ten years and three children to make this discovery. A discovery that led me from self-loathing to self-understanding.
Misperceptions About Being an Introverted Mom
Here are some misperceptions I felt that perhaps you have experienced, too, at some point in your life:
I must be insecure because I don’t seek out friendships with others.
I am shy.
People don’t enjoy talking to me because conversations and relationships don’t usually continue.
Everyone has tons of friends but me.
I’m holding my child back because I don’t want to talk to other moms.
The Real Truth of Who I Am
Here are some real truths:
I am confident. I believe in myself and I like who I am.
I am NOT shy. I have no problem talking to people — if I choose to do so.
People do like talking to me, but I don’t like small talk, so I’m quick to end the conversation.
I am not alone. Lots of people do not have large groups of friends.
I am not holding my children back. I do not have to socialize for them to be social. I accept them for who they are and there should be acceptance for who I am.
The Truth Changed Me
Realizing the truth of who I am as an introverted mom changed me. My energy was not zapped (as much) when I was around other people. I stopped beating myself up for who I am. I stopped wanting to change my nature — and instead embraced my strengths.
I like people. I like hearing their stories and sharing mine. Despite the common misconception about introverts, I’m not anti-social. I simply prefer quality over quantity when it comes to relationships. And often, my husband is enough to fill me to the brim.
I’m not closed off to new friendships — I’m just selective. Like a battery that has a low charge, I need to be picky about where I spend my energy.
How to Be an Effective Introverted Mom
I have found some life-saving ways to save my social energy and be an effective mom:
- Texting is the greatest invention known to man (or this woman).
- Email comes in as a close second.
- Social media can be an invaluable resource for motherhood support. You determine the level of engagement and just click off when you’ve had enough.
- Play dates are about your child — they don’t have to be about you.
- Birthday parties are a temporary annoyance, because when they get older, you will see two beautiful words written on invitations: Drop off. Can I get an amen!
So fret not my fellow introverted mama. Put down the whip and give yourself a break. You are not alone. Well, okay, maybe you are right now (we introverts love spending time alone). But metaphorically, you are not alone. Your fellow sisters are right here with you — albeit in their own home!
It’s time for introverted mothers to stop shaming themselves into being something they’re not and accept themselves for who they are: insightful, thoughtful, caring people who have a finite amount of energy to put into authentic, real friendships.
Are you a kid, teen, or adult who struggles with social anxiety? Check out my online course on how to crush social anxiety.
This article was originally published on my blog, AnxiousToddlers.com.