Introverts Reveal the Most Extreme Things They’ve Done to Avoid People

An introvert avoids people.

No, introverts aren’t antisocial. And we’re not grumps who hate all people. But we do hate the shallow interactions that inevitably accompany most gatherings — and let’s face it, socializing is exhausting! It’s understandable why we might sometimes go to extremes to avoid it.

I asked introverts to tell me the most extreme things they’ve ever done to avoid people. Here are twelve true stories. Can you relate?

What Introverts Have Done to Avoid People

1. I pretended I didn’t speak English to avoid small talk

I’m Filipina but I look like I’m from Korea or Japan. In order to save myself from a man’s attempt at small talk with me, I pretended not to understand his language (he spoke English and mistook me for a foreigner). I replied “no Engrish, no Engrish,” while shaking my head. Upon hearing that, he didn’t bother to continue.

–Dioselle

2. I hid behind the couch until the UPS guy left

I knew I was an introvert when the UPS guy showed up to deliver a package and I literally ducked below the window so I could avoid the interaction and he’d just leave it at the door. The way I was acting, you’d think he was the SWAT team!

–Sharron

3. I called in sick to work on my birthday

Once I called in sick to work on my birthday (even though I wasn’t sick) just to avoid coworkers saying “happy birthday” to me. It was enough to make my day much better.

–Ruben

4. I hid in my closet until my roommates left

Once in college, I hid in my closet with the lights off waiting for my roommates to leave for the night. They tried to find me but I succeeded in evading them. Then I spent the rest of the evening journaling and listening to whatever music I wanted. It was amazing.

–Laura

5. I’ve blocked almost everyone on my phone

My phone is set to not accept any calls or messages except for the eight contacts I’ve saved on my phone.

–Mehari

6. I got to campus four hours early every day to claim a quiet spot

When I was an undergrad, I spent weeks methodically exploring each building on campus to locate areas with the least amount of foot traffic and a comfortable table and chair (preferably a single table and chair to avoid unwanted company). I would then take the earliest possible bus to campus each morning (6:50 a.m.) — even when my first class didn’t start until 11 a.m. — to claim my secluded study spot.

But after a while, other students started using my spots, and my grades were actually impacted! I spent hours, literally, walking from one spot to another all over campus, desperate to find a quiet place. I couldn’t concentrate with the amount of noise and activity that seemed to occupy every corner of campus. So instead of studying, I was looking for places to study — and then I would become so stressed that studying became impossible!

–Jennifer

7. I made a sharp turn to avoid an acquaintance

I was out for a walk over lunch at work when I saw someone I knew coming toward me the opposite way. I panicked and immediately turned down the next street to avoid crossing paths. My detour ended up taking a lot longer to get back to the office. And she definitely saw me.

–Jenna

8. I secretly called an Uber to escape

This past weekend, I spent three hours in a bridal store with my sister, our mom, and grandma. I felt myself starting to have a panic attack and I had to get out of there. I told them I needed to get some air so I was going step outside. I stepped outside and got into the Uber I’d secretly ordered. After a while, they started calling, but I didn’t answer. I was home for two and a half hours before I realized I DROVE! My husband and I got my car the next day. Needless to say, I’m kicked out of the wedding!

–Angel

9. I made my boyfriend pretend to break up with me to avoid a wedding

I made my boyfriend pretend to have split up with me for several weeks so I could avoid going to his brother’s wedding. It was a really difficult time, as he was understandably confused and hurt by my attitude, but he went along with it and visited when he could, until a decent interval after the wedding when we could “reconcile.” I felt guilty but oh-so-very-relieved that I was spared what would have been for me the most incredible ordeal with his loud, exuberant, extroverted family and their friends. Somehow I made it through our own wedding the following year, but I was much happier when we were finally off on our honeymoon!

–Rosemary

10. I snuck cereal into my bedroom so I wouldn’t have to eat breakfast with my in-laws

I’m a stay-at-home mom and my in-laws just came to visit for two whole weeks. My kids and husband were gone most days for school and work, so I didn’t know how I was going to survive — especially because they love to constantly small-talk. I felt like I was suffocating!

After a few days of panic and despair, I decided to just unapologetically do my own thing every day. On days when they weren’t out visiting places I recommended, I said “see you later” and headed to yoga, to volunteer, anything.

One day, they were sitting at home, and I went across the street and ate lunch by myself, then spent the day laying in the sun reading. It was glorious!

Several mornings, I even snuck a bowl of cereal into my bedroom so I didn’t have to sit at the kitchen table alone with them and make small talk. Hallelujah, they left on Saturday!

–Jenny

11. I fake phone calls

At work, when walking between meetings or to get lunch, I pretend to be on a call on my cell phone, fully faking it, talking to no one, with pauses in all the right places and everything — just to avoid interacting with anyone on the way!

–Karen

12. I photoshopped pictures to cover my tracks

Every time I have plans with someone, I’m excited, but when the day gets nearer, I start thinking of an alibi. But when it came to the baptism of my friend’s daughter, I couldn’t think of a good reason not to be there, because I’m one of the godfathers. I mean, I wanted to go to support my friend, but I knew it would be boring and there would be a lot of people, so it would drain me so much.

I love my friend and didn’t want to lie to her, but my anxiety started building up. I told my friend I had to make an emergency visit to my Tita (aunt), far away (a lie), and probably couldn’t make it even if I wanted to (which was true).

My friends didn’t buy it, so I sent them pictures of me in that faraway place with my aunt edited by Photoshop — good thing my editing skills are the best! They still didn’t buy it, but at least they gave up pestering me to come (they know me so well). Needless to say, they didn’t invite me to my friend’s wedding afterwards.

Ken

What’s your most extreme story about avoiding people? Let us know in the comments. 

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Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.