Let me just start off by saying you guys are great. Really and truly. The world needs people like you, and some of my best friends, family members, and heroes are extroverted.
But ummmm….extroverts? You exhaust me.
I understand that you get your energy and jollies from talking a lot and being around varied groups of people, but did you know that introverts gain energy and “recharge” from the exact opposite of situations? We tend to get mentally and physically drained when we are forced to socialize for extended periods of time, or be in constant group settings.
I’m not writing this letter to tell you to “calm down your excitedness” or “stop talking so much”, because like I said, I think the world, home, and workplace really need people like you. I’m just asking that you would try to remember that there are undoubtedly people in your life who are introverted and would love for you to respect or at least be aware of their needs.
So what are the needs of an introvert, exactly?
We need time to be alone.
If we look really deep in thought, don’t interrupt unless it is necessary. Many people, not just introverts, hate being interrupted, but it’s especially difficult for introverts. It can make us completely lose track of what we were doing, and start to resent the interrupter if it is happening a lot. My father-in-law refers to it as “death by paper cuts” – it is a perfect analogy as to how it feels in a work setting if the interruptions are nonstop. Especially the pointless interruptions. When we’re trying to get work done and are very clearly focused on something, they sting.
As introverts, we will try to tell you what type of chatting/visiting mood we are in based on body language, as it can be awkward to blurt out that we just feel like being alone. If we are avoiding eye contact, looking down a lot, glancing at random objects in the room, looking at a watch, or just acting like a frantic caged animal in general, it’s probably safe to assume we want out.
If we don’t seem like ourselves, maybe a bit standoffish or quiet, don’t assume something is wrong. Don’t keep asking “are you okay? You seem mad.” If we are mad, we’ll deal with it. Most chances are we just don’t feel like talking. I know it may be hard for you to comprehend the idea of not feeling like talking without being upset or angry, but it’s a real thing.
Introverts tend to be great listeners, so don’t take advantage of that.
We’re very creative and imaginative, so use us for your creative needs! We may not have an idea or answer for you immediately, but set us free in a quiet room and we will be full of great ideas in no time.
We get crabby when we have been around people too much. Don’t take it personal, it’s not YOU, it’s just EVERYONE and the situation in general.
Introverts DO like to socialize, have fun, joke, slack off from work, chat about weekend activities, and partake in water cooler gossip. We do, I promise! We just need a break from it. We tend to be pretty awesome individuals, so I understand if you feel the need to constantly talk to us and be around us, but for the love of God, please give us a break.
Being introverted is not the same as being shy. Sometimes I am the loudest and most annoying person in the room and others would swear I am extroverted. Sometimes we can be off the chain cray cray make you slap yo mama’s face loud. But the difference is after that hour of insanity, we need to curl up like little worn out puppy dogs and get some rest.
Being introverted does not signify a lack of confidence. Do not mistake someone’s introversion for weakness. If you wrong us, we will most likely take it up with you and we tend to be well read, stable, and eloquent people. Watch out. Sometimes we tend to hold things in a little too long so we may explode. Again, watch out.
Think about how hard it would be for you to sit in a room with another person for several hours and not say a word, not a PEEP about what is going on in your head. Now realize that it is JUST as hard for an introvert to sit in a room with someone who is talking nonstop.
We tend to give others energy because of our own positive energy and ability to make people feel heard and important. Use this power wisely! If you really need to talk, vent, get advice, etc…come to us. We like to help and feel needed ourselves. But just remember the cues to get outta there: looking around, responding to you with a lot of “uh huh’s” or “oh, interesting” while looking completely disinterested.
At this point, you may be thinking “man, introverts are so dang needy!” Really though, it’s the opposite of needy. Yeah, we can be a bit funky and awkward in social situations, but we don’t need you to comfort us, pamper us, or read us bedtime stories, we just need to be left alone. If part of your job as extroverts is to give us some space, maybe our job as introverts is to be more communicative, blunt, and honest about how we feel. We will work on that.
Introverts kind of dread small talk. It’s the reason why in my late 20’s I finally realized I hate going to bars or clubs. I have always hated them and thought I was just shy, but I’m actually not shy at all. I couldn’t figure out what the deal was. Then it hit me, I hate bars and clubs because all you do is small talk. It feels pointless and wasteful. I’d love to go to dinner with you or sit at a coffee shop and dive into our recent activities and feelings, but random small talk? Kill me.
Sometimes, us introverts have a hard time expressing our feelings in the heat of the moment to you. If we are feeling angry, sad, exhausted, or anxious because of something you are doing (or not doing), it can be extremely hard to verbalize it right then and there. We need time to process it – see a trend here? We may come to you later about it and that is okay. We like to have open communication and keep things positive and happy.
Extroverts, I hope you can take a minute and think about the introverts in your life. Think about the wonderful people they are, and how much joy they bring you. If you work your introvert right, you can have a really amazing relationship with one. We tend to be funny, insightful, observant, and easygoing. We just also unfortunately tend to get our panties in a wad if we feel we haven’t had enough alone time. So do us all a favor, and let us be alone for a bit. Let us recharge and thrive in the home, workplace, and world.
An Exhausted Introvert