Let’s say you’re at a boisterous event, surrounded by people talking and laughing. People are asking you questions, excited to get to know you, and the socializing extends late into the night.
Did I just wear you out? Then you might be an introvert.
Introverts get a bad rap for being unfriendly, but really we just want all you extroverts to know we like to engage a little differently and a whole lot less frequently than you.
We live in an extroverted culture, which assumes people are entitled to your time and energy. Some experts believe extroverts outnumber introverts 3:1, so if you often feel overwhelmed and surrounded, it’s because, well, you are.
I’m not here to teach you how to be more social. I’m here to help you survive questions like, “So what do you do for a living?” with more space and grace.
Come up with a list of things you would like to talk about. If talking about your job, where you live, and whether you are dating anyone sets your teeth on edge, then talk about weird facts, conspiracy theories, or the paranormal instead. Channel your inner politician, and deflect and redirect until you are having the conversation you want to be having.
Figure out how you like to socialize. For example, I prefer activities to conversations. I’ll plate the food, play with the kids—you’ll often find me doing dishes to avoid chitchat. Bonus, cleaning up creates a nice exit strategy: Everything’s tidy; guess it’s time to wrap up!
Know your saturation limit. Maybe two hours of hang time feels good, but four is depleting. It’s helpful to announce your time limit ahead of departing instead of taking everyone by surprise: If you say “I’m only here for an hour” but change your mind, people are stoked you can stay longer versus the inevitable “You can’t leave yet!” protest.
Get a buddy. Have someone you can catch eyes with or mutter to under your breath. Just because introverts like our alone time doesn’t mean we want to feel lonely. Lean on your tried-and-true crew that gets what’s up and lets you be you.
Hold yourself to your standard. Be respectful and courteous. Don’t feel like you need to become an extrovert just because that’s what all the cool kids are doing.
Here’s wishing you your perfect blend of play and peace.
Sara Russell is a relationship coach and Taoist practitioner who helps her clients analyze behaviors, relationships and systems to see where old habits are no longer serving them. Co-conspire with Sara on Instagram.
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