The social life of an introvert can be a confusing thing. One minute you want to spend time with people, the next minute you wish you hadn’t made those plans for later. There are days when your social energies are depleted by the mere thought of being sociable, but then once you get there it’s great and you end up staying far longer than expected.
As humans we have an innate guard against things that are ‘bad for us’ and as introverts this may mean a conflicting relationship with activities that will potentially drain our energy more quickly.
On the one hand we need and crave time with others, yet it’s not the direction we are always naturally orientated towards. We are also very content in our own company and a quiet Friday night in may be our ultimate idea of fun. At least it is for me.
We need to understand what is going on and what it is we’re flinching from in those moments. In her article, Confessions of a Non-Recovering Introvert, Joanne Brokaw made a fascinating point discussing the type of vacation she enjoys:
“I don’t need to be alone; I just need to be calm, peaceful, relaxed, left to enjoy one glorious thing at a time.”
This hits at the heart of the conflict we may experience. We don’t need to be alone, we need the right kind of social. We need to learn to manage situations in a way that allows us to find the calm, remain peaceful, and find the space to enjoy life at a pace that suits, one glorious thing at a time.
This is not a moment, it’s a mindset and a way of being, requiring us to step away from the busyness and demands of a schizophrenic world that wants to distract us from our deeper sense of purpose; to define our own pace and roll with it.
This mindset shift is all about a change in pace:
In her book Quiet, Susan Cain wrote that introverts generally “prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family”. It can take time to develop safety and trust in relationships, which can require a lot of energy at the outset.
Once this is established however, spending time with those you connect deeply is easier. Relationships that skip the small talk and clumsy surface conversation and you can pick up where you left off; you can approach with calmness and peace.
2. New People
There was a time before you knew the people you know. So how did you come to know them?
Spending time one on one with people is a great way to build relationships for introverts. When I started my job I felt slightly overwhelmed by the fact I was working with 16 new people. But over the months I have been in situations that have partnered me up with different members of the team for periods of time and have got to know them better.
This has made me more comfortable with everyone individually and this has paved the way for me to become more comfortable with the groups as a whole. This wouldn’t happen if I only interacted with them in a large group setting.
We must have social patience and the understanding that relationships are built one simple conversation at a time.
3. Life and Soul
As you warm up and become comfortable in an environment and around people, you may begin to let your true madness out. We carry crazy within and invite people in to experience it when we begin to trust them. When the dynamic is right you can be the life and soul of small gatherings of such people.
When you are relaxed, discussing something about which you’re passionate, you can talk forever and ever. This is not something you need to force, it happens naturally at its own pace. You will know when it feels right.
4. The Habit of Recovery
The concept of working in a communal creative space appeals to me in many theoretical ways. It would be lovely to work around other creative people. But I also know that it’s not conducive to my own natural productivity or effectiveness. This is a conflict shared by many others I have spoken too as well.
Recovery is a habit that introverted and highly sensitive people must cultivate. Once a habit is created the behaviour is carried out without any effort or thought.
We can manage the pace of our every-day to provide habitual recovery time. I don’t know about you but I find it difficult when the weekend becomes little more than an opportunity to hide from the world after the chaos of a working week. This can stop us from investing in the relationships that mean more to us.
5. The Plan
Do you have a tendency to plan things out before you carry them out, only to find that it feels different in reality? When people start showing up to the party, event etc you find your social energy changing and what you thought would be a straight forward situation in theory beginning to feel very different.
We can become overwhelmed as the room starts filling but can remember to take things ‘one glorious moment at a time’. When making plans bear in mind that things will feel different when you’re in the place you’re planning for. Expect, anticipate, and listen to the way you react each time to learn for the future. Find the ‘right kind of social’ for you to be at your most effective in every situation.
Over to You
What is the ‘right kind of social’ for you? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below, I would love to hear your response.