By April Snow, LMFT
7 minute read
Being an introvert can make it difficult to find friends who get us, feel confident at parties or speak up at school. There’s just so much noise and not enough time to think through our thoughts, which leaves us feeling left out and misunderstood. It’s so frustrating! In reality, we have a lot of interesting things to say and make great friends.
I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with you for being more quiet and introverted. It’s just how your brain and nervous system are wired, which reward you to pursue quiet and introspective activities.
Introverts actually do need and enjoy social connection, but we prefer small groups over large parties where we can connect. We just get overstimulated when we have to interact with too many people at once. So you’re never going to love socializing as much as your super extroverted friends, but why do you need to?
Let’s explore some ways you can socialize on your own terms.
Set Yourself Up for Success
The most important part of socializing at school or parties happens before you get there. You need to start with a full tank of gas when going up against a new or socially awkward situation. Getting enough sleep and having quiet time to yourself before an event will help you manage any anxiety and also feel less overwhelmed.
Don’t Worry About Saying No
The more you try to do as an introvert, the less successful you’ll be. We only have so much social energy and it gets used up quickly when we’re in big groups at school or parties. Limit how many social outings you attend each week and when you do go out, don’t feel the pressure to stay as long as everyone else – arrive a little late or leave a little early. If you start to feel tired, irritabile, or anxious, it’s time to go home. And if you need to stay, take a time-out to go to the bathroom, walk outside, go into a quiet room, or play with the dog.
Surviving Discussion Groups
Getting into discussion groups is probably the introvert’s worst nightmare! It’s so hard to have time to think about what we want to say and find the space to speak up. It can be helpful to talk in a group early, write down what you want to say, and give yourself permission to break eye contact so you have time to think before speaking.
Keep a Tool in Your Back Pocket
Getting anxious or overwhelmed is common for introverts, so it can be helpful to find a tool that helps keep you calm. I really like the Calm Harm app which has lots of tools to manage emotions.
Be You and Embrace Your Quiet Self
Feeling different and misunderstood as an introvert can make it hard to feel confident making friends. Remember that 30-50% of the population is also introverted, so you’re not alone, even when it feels like it. When we embrace our true self, we are better able to build authentic friendships.
Despite what you’ve heard, introverts don’t need to have a large friend group to get our social needs met. We actually feel more satisfied with a few close friends that we can be ourselves around.
April Snow, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco, who specializes in working with Highly Sensitive Introverts and Teens. April strongly believes that being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) doesn’t have to stop you from living a fully engaged life and is on a mission to help HSPs create a life on their own terms so they can manage the overwhelm and start to thrive.