Throughout my 26 years of living on this earth, I’ve faced many different obstacles and put up with way more than I could handle as an introvert. I’ve grown so much as a person, but to this day, there are still bumps along the road. Thankfully, what I’ve learned from the past has helped prepare me for any new problems that occur.
We all have a story — or multiple stories — to tell, and we all have reactions to experiences that help make us who we are. Obviously, people you meet for the first time are not going to understand why you’re the quietest one in your friend group, why you decline to go out on a Saturday night, or why you only feel comfortable texting one or two people out of the 20+ that you know.
Even people you have known for a long time may not understand the “why” behind these habits; introverts are not usually open books, and personally, I follow the “don’t ask, don’t tell” motto. But if I could open myself up — like my own personal autobiography — for just one moment to someone I’ve never met, and give them insights into the things I struggle with as an introvert, I’d tell them the following. Can you relate?
9 Introvert Struggles I’m Working On
1. Checking up on people
My friends and family, to be exact. I swear it’s not because I don’t care. As an introverted empath, I’m constantly feeling what those close to me feel, and I want to be able to check on you and know you’re okay. I’m just afraid of smothering you and I don’t want to annoy you or put you in a position you may not want to be in, like having to respond to me when you don’t feel like it. I’m always here if you need me, though.
This is one of the hardest things I’ve tried to overcome. I think way too hard about some things. Well, actually, I think too hard about almost everything. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m overthinking until I catch myself contemplating, for nearly 10 minutes, exactly how to respond to a comment on my Facebook post or how to fold the cloth behind the button on my jeans to make my belly less noticeable. Overthinking is a tough one, and I ask that my family and friends have patience with me when I go down the rabbit hole of my own brain.
3. Stepping out of my comfort zone
I’m in my mid-20s, and I haven’t had my first “real” relationship yet. I haven’t experienced true love or met someone who I’ve felt deserved my whole heart. I haven’t traveled far, or really at all, even before COVID-19. Financial issues are the main cause, but it’s also because familiarity is comforting to me as an introvert, and sometimes my social anxiety can be crippling. If I feel comfortable around you, I’d definitely consider going somewhere new with you.
I don’t always win the battle, but I never go down without a fight. My insecurities revolve mostly around my physical appearance, but I’m quite socially anxious as well. Combine those with being an introvert, and sometimes I just want to hide from everyone. I’ve been dealing with self-consciousness for a very, very long time, but I’m working hard to love myself more everyday. While it stems from a painful past of bullying, teasing, and general negativity toward my appearance, I’m getting better little by little.
5. Not telling you how I feel
Trust me, I truly want you to know how I feel, but as an introvert, it’s not easy to express the millions of thoughts always swarming my brain. That’s why my favorite thing to do is write, because it’s an outlet for me to say the things I’m having trouble talking about. Sometimes it really is easier for me to say, “I’m all right” rather than, “My job is stressing me out, and I nearly had an anxiety attack at work, but I was able to get over it before it became noticeable.” And I hate complaining, I hate feeling like I’m burdening other people with my problems, so I’d rather be silent about them now and journal about them later.
While I appreciate occasionally hanging out with friends and family, I spend most of my time alone. Like many introverts, I enjoy my own company, and I have a lot of solo hobbies I love. I moved out of my hometown after high school, so I don’t have many friends who I feel close to. It may be my fault due to my lack of reaching out to people, but like I said, I’m afraid of being too clingy. What’s an appropriate number of times to ask someone to hang out? Once a day? A week, two weeks? I don’t have to think about that when I hang out with myself.
I don’t like to fail, I don’t like being considered “not good enough,” so I tend to default to “introvert mode” and attempt to blend in with the background. Hiding is easier than having to face my fears head on, which loom large in my overthinking mind. For example, the idea of a blind date is absolutely horrifying to me. Imagine meeting up with someone and knowing they’re not interested just from the way they look at you. I know not all introverts struggle with rejection, but for me, it’s another tough battle, and like everything else on this list, I’m working on it to the best of my ability.
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8. Absorbing every little thing
You probably thought I didn’t hear what you whispered about me or saw the judgemental expression on your face, but I did. Like many introverts, I notice a lot more than people realize — every facial expression, every gesture, every change in a person’s tone of voice. I could be a human lie detector, I kid you not. While this is mentally draining when I’m trying to figure out if someone likes me or not, it also means I remember almost everything people tell me about themselves. If I care about someone, I want to store every piece of information — good and bad — so I can remember the good things for a potential future gift or the bad things for a trigger not to mention.
Not all introverts are shy, but I am, and sometimes my introversion and shyness magnify one another. Especially when you first meet me, I’m afraid of being awkward or saying the wrong thing. Also, I prefer listening to talking, because I like understanding people better and learning about different perspectives. When people tell me about themselves, it takes a bit to process it because my brain is meshing all these complex (unnecessary) thoughts together, and I’m trying to separate what’s important and what’s not. The closer I get to you and the more comfortable I feel, the more my shyness fades — but it never truly goes away. I used to loathe it, but now I’ve learned to embrace it. Better to admit who I am than pretend to be something I’m not.
This list reflects the things I’m both currently embracing and working on getting better at. I’ve come to terms with myself in a much better way than I ever have, but I still have some way to go. So please be patient with me during the tough times. I really am just trying to be the best version of my introverted self.