When I try to function as an introvert in a world made for extroverts, I quickly find myself feeling annoyed.
I like to think of myself as laid-back, easy to be around, and easy to please. Sometimes, I am those things. I practice living in the “now” and maintaining a healthy perspective so I can peacefully and comfortably “go with the flow.”
The introvert in me, though, values routine and thinking deeply about things. So when I try to function in a world that doesn’t cater to the introvert’s nature, I can find myself not so laid-back. Instead, I get swiftly irritated and thrown off guard, I’m not easy to be around, but moody, and, at times, just plain displeased.
Being an introvert in an extrovert’s world can be challenging, especially since we tend to experience events like social gatherings quite differently than our extroverted opposites. (Honestly, we’d often rather skip the social gathering altogether and do something more low-key, like finish the book we’re reading.)
Whether it’s with my friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors, over the years, I’ve learned what’s going to set me off. Understanding myself better allows me to breathe through the irritation and remain relatively pleasant rather than subjecting others to my grumpiness or less-than-perky mood when I get overstimulated and overwhelmed.
So it might help the more extroverted among us to understand some of these behaviors that drive introverts like me crazy.
10 Things That Annoy Me as an Introvert
1. A sudden change of plans
Introverts actually love being with good friends and crave meaningful social interaction. But because it can take a lot of energy, it’s easiest when we have time to mentally prepare and come down or recharge after.
When people adjust plans at the last minute (like inviting extra guests or changing the time), it throws off the whole process. Speaking of plans…
2. Small talk versus deep conversations
Let’s say I’m at a party and my friends get a little tipsy and start talking over each other rather than listening to each other (plus, the conversations have nothing to do with getting to know one another better).
Inside, I’m feeling disappointed and a little sorry for myself. Here I am, wanting to deeply connect and converse with these people, and they’re sharing silly, loud YouTube videos on their phones.
And, because my capacity for small talk is so limited, I quickly lose the ability to participate in the conversation. As a result, I zone out and appear to be rude.
I long for quiet, meaningful conversation with friends so desperately that this is all I asked for when it came time to celebrate my 40th birthday. They came through for me, and I was in heaven.
3. Group work meetings
As an introvert, work, too, gets stressful. I’ve often failed to happily “go with the flow” when the flow means putting on an enthusiastic display — despite my inner exhaustion.
This happened often when I was a high school teacher. I’d be drained at the end of a day from interacting with students, only to be forced to sit through an English department faculty meeting and collaborate over lessons and goals.
I figured we could sort it all out much more efficiently by thinking about it on our own — which introverts usually prefer — and sending some emails back and forth. I wasn’t exactly easy to be around in those meetings, although I did my best to cooperate because I loved and respected my colleagues.
4. Being interrupted
Whether it’s my husband popping into my home office to ask a question while I’m mid-thought, or a friend butting in when I’m in the middle of an intimate conversation with another friend, I find it annoying to be interrupted.
After all, introverts value their alone time and moments to think deeply about whatever we’re working on, whether it’s a lesson plan for my students or gardening.
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5. Unplanned chats with neighbors
When I go outside to walk my dog or water the plants, that’s what I’m doing: walking my dog or watering my plants; I’m not going out for a social event. If I hear, “Howdy, neighbor” from across the street, I have to try not to cringe.
And if we do get into a conversation, I often stumble over my words since I’m just not in the headspace to socialize.
6. Being asked to smile
There is nothing wrong with being focused on a task or lost in thought and not smiling as a result — it takes physical energy to do so.
My friend recently gave me a T-shirt that’s all white with a simple phrase on the back: “Leave me alone. I’m fine.” So don’t make me prove it with a smile.
7. Returning a text or email with a phone call
While I very much enjoy long phone catch-up sessions with my friends and parents, these occur when it’s a good time for both parties.
If I text or email a friend about a plan, or a colleague about a story we’re working on, and the phone rings shortly afterwards in response, I’m just not going to answer.
A phone conversation requires a whole other kind of energy than composing a carefully worded message in my own time. Like many other introverts, I like to take my time to process things, something I can’t exactly do on the phone.
8. When the doorbell rings
The doorbell ringing is almost always a minor jolt, even if we’ve invited people over and it’s time for them to arrive, but there’s just something about it that makes me anxious.
It’s especially annoying when it’s out of the blue: Who? What? Why? What do you need from me?
9. Confusing introversion with misanthropy
When others joke that I don’t like people, I get annoyed and a little hurt since I take my love for people very seriously. When I like, let alone love, someone, I willingly slice myself wide open, exposing all the rawness and realness inside. And if the other person exposes their raw insides to me, I consider it an honor.
Developing relationships — sharing and learning from one another — is just about the most important aspect of my life. So, no, I’m not a misanthrope just because I need alone time that has nothing to do with you.
10. Sharing space with someone else
My husband and I love each other; as two sensitive (in all the ways) people, we work hard on our relationship. While we both enjoy the home we’ve built together, sharing it all the time can be annoying.
This means we have to get creative to find the places and spaces to exist without scrutiny from one another, without having to be “on,” and without worrying about hurting the other person’s feelings.
With all the above things that annoy me as an introvert, I think realizing that it’s the behaviors that are annoying, not the people doing them, is important for both parties. A little understanding can go a long way to forming deeper, happier, healthier relationships with those around us.