3 Words You’ve Never Heard Before That Validate the Introvert Life

These words validate the thoughts and feelings that introverts may think aren’t real or worth having.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you’re feeling a certain way, but don’t know how to describe it? Or you look up how you’re feeling online, only to discover a word you’ve never heard of?

This tends to happen to me — so much so that one of my favorite pastimes is opening Pinterest and pinning obscure words, ones that describe poignant emotions and natural spectacles. It might just be the introvert in me — the deep, introspective thinker whose mind never seems to stop — but discovering new words for unfamiliar feelings is like unlocking a magic spell: I’ve found a new way to capture the human experience in a collection of letters. They validate feelings and thoughts we think aren’t real or worth having. 

Words are powerful tools. Learning words and phrases to express ourselves helps us understand ourselves better, helps others understand something they don’t have experience with, and brings unknown feelings, opinions, and experiences out into the world for further exploration.

Since I feel introverts are often misunderstood — in part because we’re usually better at thinking about, then writing, our thoughts versus speaking them aloud — this is exactly why having the words to convey what goes on in our inner worlds can illuminate how we experience life.

And this is how these three words, coined by John Koeing, creator of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, validate my experiences as an introvert — and they may validate yours, too.

3 Words That Validate the Introvert Life

1. Midding (v.) – being around others, but more on the sidelines

Midding is feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it. You know that easy feeling you have when you’re content with watching people have fun at a party? Or when your more outgoing friends are engaging in conversation and you’re happy to simply listen? Koeing knows just the word for that, midding:

“Feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it — hovering on the perimeter of a campfire, chatting outside a party while others dance inside, resting your head in the backseat of a car listening to your friends chatting up front — feeling blissfully invisible yet still fully included, safe in the knowledge that everyone is together and everyone is okay, with all the thrill of being there without the burden of having to be.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always stood in the awkward space of feeling uncomfortable, yet content, when I’m hanging back. Sure, I may think, or overthink: Should I say something? Would it be weird if I started talking mid-conversation? Is it OK if I’m just enjoying the presence of others?

But there’s a joy in being part of the crowd without the pressure and burden of socializing. It’s as if we’re absorbing the good-time feelings without ingesting the small talk, something introverts tend to loathe. So if we’re present, but not as social as our extroverted friends, it’s our way of enjoying ourselves without wearing ourselves out. As an introvert, I often engage in midding — and you may, too, without even realizing it.

2. Adronitis (n.) – frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone

It’s a well-known fact that most introverts prefer meaningful conversations over small talk  and — that’s where adronitis comes into the picture:

“Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone — spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the center of the house — wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first…”

Since chit-chat doesn’t oil our introvert social gears as much as discussions about dreams, philosophy, or personal stories, personally, I feel adronitis often when I’m out at an event, small or large. 

Understandably, when getting to know a new person, it’s the norm to start small and work our way into deeper topics. But people generally aren’t willing to share the biggest, most vulnerable parts of themselves from the get-go. I don’t blame them. Although wouldn’t it make socializing more fulfilling if we could dive right into the ocean? If we could know if a connection existed right from the start? 

But it would take a cultural shift to change this expectation, to make it safe and normal for people to open their hearts at first knock. For now, we can take comfort in the fact that a word exists to explain this need for depth, that someone else understands this feeling. Maybe if we introverts start using it regularly — Don’t you feel adronitis right now? —  it’ll even catch on.

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3. Mauerbauertraurigkeit (n.) – the inexplicable urge to push people away

This doozy of a word may add an extra dimension to our socially exhausted state. Mauerbauertraurigkeit means:

“The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like — as if all your social taste buds suddenly went numb, leaving you unable to distinguish cheap politeness from the taste of genuine affection, unable to recognize its rich and ambiguous flavors, its long and delicate maturation, or the simple fact that each tasting is double-blind.”

This phenomenon may manifest for different reasons — from insecurity, exhaustion, or disinterest. When I didn’t fully understand my introverted nature, I used to think I didn’t fit in when I lost the energy to engage further. I’d put up a wall between myself and my friends and decided the friendships wouldn’t last. I was mauerbauertraurigkeiting without even realizing it.

I still have those friendships, but interestingly, I still grapple with that feeling sometimes, even with a deeper understanding of my nature. I find this to be an integrated part of my introvert experience, something that requires me to perform maintenance on my insecurities. If you have experienced this, you may want to ask yourself if you’ve found it to be temporary — or reoccurring?

Do any of these obscure words have meaning for you? In any case, you can keep them in your back pocket when you come across a feeling you can’t quite pin down. They may be able to explain a concept that our society is unfamiliar with.

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Mariama is a freelance writer whose work focuses on self-development, introversion, and mental health. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and reflecting on the mysteries of life in nature. You can find more of her work on her website.