In a world that adores and celebrates extroverts, there’s a lot of introvert shaming that goes on around us. For instance, introverts are often painted as “party poopers” while extroverts are considered the “life of the party.” An introvert person is judged as antisocial, and the extroverted person is well-loved for being a “people person.”
I know, because I am an introvert.
I can’t tell you how many parties and gatherings I’ve been to where some people got either anxious, uncomfortable, or intimidated because I wasn’t talking as much as the others.
I can’t tell you how many people, usually extroverts, have been shooed away by my social awkwardness or by their failure to engage me in some kind of small talk.
Believe me. Don’t ask an introvert, “Kumusta?” Chances are, we will stutter and grope for the right words to say. That’s because we don’t know whether you’re really asking how we are or it’s just another small talk. So, if you ask us how we are, either you expect a non-committal “Okay lang,” or you’d better be ready for a deluge of stories and emotions coming your way.
I also can’t tell you how much I was regarded as weak or timid just because I dislike speaking up in front of a lot of people. I’ve been to a number of events, classes, and seminars where extroverts dominate the room because they’re outspoken, and introverts are referred to as “people at the back” who are seen as disengaged or disinterested.
Oh, but when an introvert like me starts to speak up or ask questions, people will then become intimidated because of the way we speak, think, or ask questions. Nerd, arrogant, weird—that’s how we are perceived.
This is why a lot of people dislike being an introvert and envy those who are fun at parties.
If you’re a fellow introvert, hello there. You are not weak, incompetent, shy, depressed, or antisocial. Your introversion is a gift to celebrate, especially if you know how to harness the power that lies within you: the ability to listen, the wildness of your imagination, the power to connect to another person’s soul, and your quiet confidence that allows you to be sober even in stressful situations.
You are normal. Smile.
But this article isn’t for you, but for our extrovert friends who made our lives a bit more colorful. Crazy sometimes. Chaotic. Tiresome. But colorful, nevertheless.
To the extroverts in our lives, we thank thee, for adopting us in your social circles. If it weren’t for you, we’d never be able to go to parties as much as we do today. We would never have tasted as much food, or tried new adventures, or met new people in our lives.
So, thank you, human, for your bravery; for risking rejection and dealing with our stoic faces as you struggled for words when you first said “hi.”
Befriending an introvert is much like petting a cat. They’re cute (yes, we are), but they’re often distant, disinterested, and bored in life.
To return the favor to you for offering to us your wonderful friendship, I have put together a cheat sheet to help you understand the mysteries of the introvert’s mind.
We love being left alone, but it doesn’t mean we don’t like your presence. We are introspective by nature, so we love to process our thoughts and emotions by ourselves. An introvert can survive an entire day—sometimes, even an entire week—by himself or herself. Our books, music, and thoughts keep us company, and we’re usually okay with it. This doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t need friends. We love the company of our trusted friends, especially those who can keep up with our dry humor, can handle our sarcasm, or can give us space to think or socially recharge.
This one’s tough: You will barely notice it when we’re emotionally not okay, so you might tend to assume that we’re doing okay and we’re just being our usual introverted self.
How would you know the difference? Just keep us close to you. . . but keep a safe distance so you won’t scare us away, okay? That shouldn’t be difficult to understand, right?
When you see us looking bored at parties, chances are that we’re really bored or we’re actually having fun in our own world. In both cases, just leave us be. The last thing that we want to feel is that our introversion is being a burden to you or that we’re causing anxiety or discomfort to anyone.
So, enjoy the party, mingle with your friends, and act normal. When you see us lost in our thoughts, don’t ask, “What’s the matter?” or “Are you okay?” It makes us feel more awkward about ourselves and it pressures us to talk to people.
But here’s a secret hack: If you’re unsure about whether we’re having fun or we’re already dying inside, ask us this question: “What time do you want to go home?” Be ready to leave in 15 minutes in case we already need to retreat to the batcave.
Respect our personal space. Don’t force us to open up or to “break out of our shell.” We’re perfectly fine. And there’s a reason why we keep our circle small or why we only open up to a small bunch of people. To an introvert, trust is a huge thing. It’s not that we love acting high and mighty. Please understand that our introversion is not just a lifestyle that we chose; it’s a personality and an orientation, a learned behavior based on real life experiences growing up.
And oh, we’d appreciate it if you don’t put us on the spot in front of many people by asking us awkward questions or giving snide remarks.
Don’t surprise us by suddenly making us hang with a bunch of strangers or a large crowd. Don’t. JUST. DON’T.
Invite us to events and parties, but expect us to say no. It’s not the parties and hangouts that make us feel loved; it’s the idea of being invited, wanted, and included. So, we hope you don’t get tired of inviting us to dinners and parties or just assume that we don’t want to come.
Please don’t get offended when we don’t seem amused, surprised, or happy when you tell us your stories. Believe me, we are. It’s just the way our faces were designed. But we love listening to your stories, we celebrate your milestones in life, and we feel your heartaches. It doesn’t always look like it, but we appreciate and love you more than you know.
There you go.
I’m not sure if these tips are helpful at all. The more I try to explain what we feel or how we think, the more complicated it sounds. I understand, we can be difficult and puzzling to deal with at times. But let me tell you this: The most loyal friends you can find are the introverts in your life.
When you gain our trust, win our friendship, and connect with our mind and heart, you can be sure that we’ll stick it out with you through the good times and the bad.
Our lack of affection, we compensate for by our willingness to spend quality time just to sit with you when all you need is a friend who will listen and make you feel that you’re not alone.
Just don’t suddenly bring someone we don’t know, or at least tell us in advance who you’re bringing, so we can say no to the invitation.