Turkey. Pumpkin pie. Awkwardly chatting with Great Aunt Gladys. If you live in the U.S., you’re probably getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. Inevitably, at some point, you’ll be asked to name something you’re thankful for. With that spirit in mind, here are 23 things introverts are generally thankful for — anytime of the year. What would you add to this list?
1. Coming home and finding the house unexpectedly empty. There’s nothing better than sneaking in a few hours (or even minutes) of unexpected solitude. Time to relax. Time to decompress. No obligatory, “How was your day?” Just space and freedom to be yourself. Ahhhh…
2. When your friend cancels on you at the last minute, and you kind of wanted to stay home anyway. This is just like #1: unexpected solitude.
3. Getting a Saturday afternoon to yourself. Perhaps even better than a few moments of unexpected solitude is knowing that you have hours and hours of alone time ahead of you.
4. Finding out that the party/event/meeting is ending earlier than you thought. Sure, introverts can socialize and even be leaders in the workplace. But for many of us, those things don’t come naturally. “Peopling” is a skill we’ve had to learn — kind of like learning a foreign language. And we all know how mentally exhausting it can be to speak a language you’re not entirely comfortable with. Any time spent away from the group (and in our natural inward “habitat”) is something we’re thankful for.
5. Discovering a good book that you can’t put down. Books (along with movies, music, and art) transport introverts to the place we love the most: the energizing world of ideas and imagination.
6. Having a meaningful conversation. How are you a different person today than you were five years ago? What’s on your mind lately? Do aliens exist? In our fast-paced society that values polite chitchat over substance, deep conversations don’t happen often. Yet it’s these meaningful interactions that nourish introverts and provide us with an antidote to social burnout. Something to be thankful for, indeed.
7. Meeting a fellow introvert who “gets” it. Or an extrovert who “gets” it by respecting your need for space and solitude. Feeling understood by another human being is about as magical as it gets.
8. When there’s a dog or cat at the party. Saved! (From small talk with humans, that is.)
9. Headphones. Pop on a pair when you’re in a public space — like a bus, airplane, coffee shop, or at your desk — and you signal to others that you’re not in the mood to chat. Hallelujah!
10. Arriving on your own to a party so you can leave whenever you want. For introverts, hell is being trapped somewhere surrounded by noise and people. Having an escape mechanism is key.
11. When someone says, “How are you?” and really means it. See #6.
12. When you don’t have to make awkward small talk. For some reason, people find silence awkward. So we strike up conversations about the weather with strangers in elevators. Or we erupt with a cheery, “How’s it going?” when we pass someone we barely know in the hallway at work. When introverts can get through the day with minimal chitchat, we’re thankful.
13. Waking up early or staying up late, when no one else is around. Peace. Silence. Bliss.
14. Downtime after a busy day. Socializing isn’t the only thing that drains introverts. Any kind of incoming stimulation, such as noise, time pressure, or activity, gets tiring. After a busy day, when we don’t have to do one more thing, we’re thankful.
15. A weekend with no social plans. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be doing anything. We’ll make our own plans. Introvert plans. Plans to read in bed. To binge watch our favorite show. To lounge around the house.
16. Self-checkout lanes, drive-throughs, food delivery, and online shopping. No, introverts don’t hate people. But we do try to minimize our “people” intake, because each interaction drains our limited social energy — especially the kind of surface-level interactions that usually take place in restaurants and stores.
17. Having to go to a store but unexpectedly finding it not busy. If you can’t do #16, this is the next best thing.
18. Time to think before responding. Many introverts struggle with word retrieval, because our brains may rely more on long-term memory than short-term memory (extroverts do the opposite). For this reason, we may have a hard time putting our thoughts into words, especially when we’re put on the spot in a meeting, on a first date, or when called on in class. We’re thankful for people who give us a few pressure-free moments to collect our thoughts before demanding an answer.
19. Texting. Similar to #18, introverts tend to feel more comfortable expressing themselves in writing than speaking. That’s because writing uses different pathways in the brain, which seem to flow more fluently for introverts. We’re thankful for every time we can send a text message instead of making a phone call.
20. Public spaces that are actually quiet. When parks, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, buses, and trains are chill, we’re thankful.
21. When you get to do your thing, uninterrupted. Alone time isn’t just about being alone. For many introverts, it’s a way to reconnect with our passions, hobbies, and artistic pursuits. It’s when we do deep, concentrated work. When our alone time is fragmented by other obligations (or interruptions from loved ones), introverts can get stressed. A long stretch of unbroken time to do our thing is something we’re immensely thankful for.
22. Your favorite beverage, a cozy blanket, and your favorite show. Alone.
23. “Me” time. Doing whatever relaxes you, energizes you, and brings you joy.
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Learn more: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, by Jenn Granneman
Image credit: @annie29 via Twenty20