Your Handy Guide to Social Introverts

Do you have a friend who calls herself an introvert, yet she seems comfortable speaking in public, sociable at parties, and generally not super shy and awkward?

She *claims* to be an introvert, but all the evidence is against her. What gives?

Let me help you.

Let’s imagine 2 people driving to an event they are looking forward to and sure to enjoy.

Person 1 — let’s call her Ann — gets into her car, puts on her favorite music, and hits the road. It’s an easy drive: not much traffic, beautiful views. She sings at the top of her lungs with the car set on cruise control, and she never has to stop for gas, restrooms, or a drink.

Person 2– let’s call her Beth — has to travel a different route. There’s heavy traffic and construction, so she turns off the radio to give driving her full concentration. Her car is a stick shift, so she’s constantly shifting up and down, and she couldn’t use cruise control even without the traffic. She also has a small gas tank, so the city driving means she either has to make sure the tank is completely full before she leaves, or she’ll have to make a stop on the way. She doesn’t really mind — she’s excited for the event — but the drive takes a toll nonetheless.

Both Amy and Beth successfully arrive at the same place, and both Amy and Beth enjoy themselves once they are there — they have pretty similar tastes. Amy arrives at her destination nearly on auto pilot. Beth, on the other hand, has to be more intentional to get to the same place, and will probably need a break even from having a good time, to rest up before the next trip.

And there’s your sociable introvert. Just because it doesn’t come totally naturally to us doesn’t mean we can’t do it or we don’t want to. We just have to think about it a little more.

Luckily, we like thinking too.



Filed under Oh Mother

9 responses to “Your Handy Guide to Social Introverts

  1. My gosh, you’ve so captured it! People are always shocked when I tell them I’m an introvert. They assume because I can handle myself in public and appear comfortable doing so that I must be an extrovert. I’m just learned how to handle such situations, but it requires effort and energy.

  2. what an interesting way to describe it! and very effective. I’ve learned that being an introvert or extrovert has nothing to do with whether you do well in public or not, it’s simply about how you derive your energy – from being alone or being with others.

  3. Good analogy. I can enjoy being with people but it takes me awhile to recover.

  4. I had a friend once explain this to me by saying that I (as an introvert) feel drained after a big people event while she (an extrovert) feels recharged. I was stunned that she wasn’t also drained.

  5. That’s it! I’m a sociable introvert, and it’s all about energy. I like to be with people, but when the group is large or when I don’t know the group well, it takes tons of energy to go to the event and plenty of time to recover. It’s about energy.

  6. Molly

    Great way to put it, Shaun. I’m definitely a Beth.

  7. Excellent description. I also like descriptions of the difference that focus on the energy flow.

    I’m an extrovert. So no matter how nervous I feel before a big event, or how much I’m not in the mood, I know that being in the event surrounded by people will GIVE ME the energy.

    For introverts, I understand that it is the other way around. You need to plan in the getting of energy and the recovery time afterwards. Hence the small gas tank in your description.

    Funnily enough I can find myself feeling nervous, awkward and even shy about the event itself even though I’m an extrovert. Which is probably the equivalent of people thinking introverts aren’t sociable.

  8. sravani

    That is a wonderful post! Great descriptions too.

    Actually it captures ‘me’ going between both sides…

    I do not like the pressure to be social either…it needs to be natural…
    And ost of the times, all I want to do is observe people(if I need to be in a place filled with people) and quite fine being so…

  9. Thank you for writing this. On behalf of capable, enthusiastic introverts everywhere!!

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