Introverts don’t always avoid groups, especially when that group is a bunch of close friends they feel comfortable with.
“Dance like nobody’s watching!” exclaims a six-year-old boy as he challenges one of my friends to a dance battle. For context, the six-year-old is the son of my closest college friend. He can be shy at first, but once he’s comfortable, his superhero persona comes out, ready to fight bad guys and save the day. Every hero has to have a nemesis, so this dance battle was worth winning. For five minutes straight, they broke out their best moves like a scene straight out of an early 2000s drama, which was not an unusual thing to happen at the annual summer gatherings I have with my small group of closest friends.
Unlike the six-year-old, I wasn’t the type of kid to participate in dance battles growing up. As an introvert, I wouldn’t be psyched to be in one now either, even in my 30s. Don’t get me wrong, as a kid, I always had a companion to explore my neighborhood with, but I was one of those kids who grew up without a true best friend. I would find myself calling a close friend a “best friend” — only to have that relationship dismantled as we got older. I found it difficult to relate with others, as I spent most of my time alone listening to music or making art — hobbies that have stuck with me well into adulthood.
However, I was never bothered by the lack of socializing because, like a true introvert, I love my alone time. Far be it from me to deny the need for friendship and healthy conversation, but who would’ve thought my favorite memories all stem from a group of individuals I met during my studies at a private university located in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. I may not have a best friend, but I have something better: I have a best friend group. For an introvert like me, this group of friends has become important to my well-being.
For Introverts, Some Friendships Never Die
I met my first friend from this group at a work-study program. Our friendship started over our shared disinterest in bothering people on behalf of the alumni association. We were tasked with making phone calls during the day — as though we worked in a call center — to raise donations for the college we attended. Like any introvert, I dreaded talking on the phone, but making calls with my friend in the next room made it easier. We would swap stories about the conversations we had and use funny accents to see if we could make the other person mess up the script we had to read from. Over time, our boring job became entertaining, and a lot of inside jokes were born from our college’s alumni department.
As I got to know this one friend, I became familiar with all of the people who were also her friends. Every friend she had was unique with different personalities, preferences, quirks, and introversion at varying levels. The more I spent time with them individually, the more comfortable I became around them as a group. Being introverted doesn’t mean I dislike the company of other people. Rather, I’m selectively social and am more social when I’m around people who share the same interests and values as I do. Outside of attending the same college, my friends studied or appreciated art to some degree. Craft store errands became routine for us because we genuinely didn’t care about partying every night of our college lives. We liked deep conversations, pizza dinners, and weekly movie nights with a small handful of cool people.
Time, Distance, and Silence Are the Keys to Our Friendship
My friend group is made up of mostly introverts, so we “get” each other and understand that silence doesn’t equal disinterest. We aren’t the types of people to regularly group text or do video conferences or even really keep tabs on one another, because we feel like we don’t have to. We give each other space to live and grow as human beings, which makes our in-person reunions that much more pleasant. I could continue writing about past stories of funny pranks, crazy alcohol-fueled nights, and that one hospital visit that served as a wake-up call. But I’d rather write about how lucky I am to have friends who have witnessed different stages of my life and still make the effort to be around for the next adventure.
It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy from me to be social, which partially explains why my close friends and I only meet once a year. There are days I wish I could call one of them, grab a coffee, and browse art supplies like in the old days, but I remind myself that whatever I’m doing, they are with me in spirit. I’m thankful for the friend group I have as an introvert — despite the distance — because I can send a silly message just to let them know I’m thinking of them.
Our friend group knows it’s the little things that matter. We don’t have to be super involved in each other’s personal lives. Instead, a gentle reminder is enough to keep the friendships alive, because deep down we know we’ll always be there for one another. I would be lying if I said that our once-a-year tradition was enough, but I’m content with the balance we struck as a friend group. Being that I am introverted, I love that my friends understand that I need a balance between personal reflection and socialization. And most of them also seek the same harmony.
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Our Annual Best Friend Group Tradition
Ever since we graduated, my friends and I made a pact to enjoy each other’s company at least once a year. Our annual reunion varies every year. Sometimes we act like our former college selves (which almost always backfires the next morning) and other times we kick back and laugh at the memories we’ve created together. There is no judgment or pettiness when we reconnect as a friend group. We just catch up on the current events of each other’s lives and express nothing but support for each other’s growth. It’s both cathartic and improvised at the same time.
I’ve tried to explain the annual college reunion to coworkers and acquaintances. While it seems inconvenient for a group of people to travel for hours only to meet up over a few short days, every second we spend together as a friend group is worth it. (Plus, I can recharge the rest of the year!) The past two reunions evolved into what I like to call “adult summer camp.” We stayed in a cabin in the middle of the woods, secluded from the disturbance of other people, another bonus for the introverts among us. The cabin is so hidden, we still laugh about how difficult it would be to order a pizza for delivery because we would have to meet the driver on the far-off main road like some sort of weird drug deal.
The cabin is like a luxury to an introvert like me, even though it isn’t modern or glamorous. My friends and I chip in for food and drinks, and we clean up after ourselves. We also set up lounge chairs and badminton nets before we start having fun. There are three four-wheel ATVs to explore off-road trails, a stream of water to catch crayfish in, a firepit for s’mores, and tons of natural rock pits to go crystal hunting in. Unlike most friendships, we don’t celebrate the holidays together or remember each other’s birthdays on time, but our yearly reunion is, in a sense, our holiday, which makes it all the more special.
The more time I spend with each college friend, the more I’m reminded of the important things in life that I value most as an introvert. My friends remind me to keep a childlike wonder and pursue my passions, despite financial and personal hardships. They remind me to always be kind, even when the world isn’t kind. They remind me to keep an open mind and go with the flow. And they remind me to be empathetic, even when my friends may not agree with one another’s life choices.
My friend group is perfect for an introvert like me. I don’t have to keep up appearances or feel guilty about the lack of social interaction because our friendships are deeper than that. We’re like a family. Whether we’re together or apart, we know we’ll always be there for one another. We’ll play board games, roast marshmallows, and sing loud and off-key. And we’ll dance like nobody’s watching.