To your friends and family members, you might seem to be the life of the party. You’ve got a solid tribe, plenty of dates on your social calendar and have never met a stranger. Yet, are you finding it exhausting to keep up the act? Do you secretly crave your alone time and start counting down the minutes to closing time as soon as you arrive at the club? If so, there’s a strong chance that you’re an introvert who’s masquerading as an extrovert.
While even the most outgoing among us need to be with themselves every now and then, if you’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the public situations you’re appearing to love, it might be time to reconsider your feelings. True introversion differs from social anxiety or shyness and as such, you might think that just because you’re not super uncomfortable at these events, you must be an extrovert. Yet, here are five definite signs you’re really an introvert at heart.
1. You find large crowds draining.
Some people love nothing more than being in the middle of a mosh pit at a loud concert. Or, they thrive while attending a large professional conference with their peers. While there’s no arguing that these type of events can be enriching and rewarding, they can also be more draining on some than others.
After spending all day with a lot of people, do you feel physically, mentally and emotionally spent? Do you want nothing more than to sit in silence by yourself for a few minutes or more to counteract all the noise and chatter you’ve encountered all day? An introvert, by nature, has to expend energy to be engaged in a social setting. While that type of interaction comes naturally for extroverts, who find the communal flow to be invigorating and energy-inducing, it can actually be straining and stressful for others.
2. You like to stick with your core group.
A common misconception regarding introverts is that they don’t enjoy the company of others. Conversely, introverts actually do like to spend time with friends and engage in social settings. The one catch? They prefer to hang out with a select few friends whom they know intimately than in a big group setting where they don’t know anyone’s last name.
If given the choice, would you rather stick tightly to your core group that you’ve cultivated over the years, or would you jump at the opportunity to get out there, meet a ton of new people, and even perhaps grow your circle? If it’s the former, you may be an introvert at heart. Another way to discern this trait is to consider your actions at a party. Sure, you know how to run through the motions of being a social butterfly. You take the time to get ready, pack your purse, plan events and coordinate your friends all coming along. Yet, once you get there, are you more interested in talking to those you know, or meeting those you don’t? If you’d rather have a quality conversation with a pal you’ve known since high school rather than a quick chat with a new colleague, that’s one sign of introversion.
3. You are comfortable spending a lot of time alone.
If you’re an introvert, you will find nothing wrong with spending an entire afternoon by yourself, engaged in your favorite hobbies and interests. Maybe that means thrifting with your headphones on, painting outdoors all day, or writing at your computer at a local coffee shop. You don’t need to interact with anyone else to feel fulfilled, centered and at peace. Rather, you walk away from days like these feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.
Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean you are comfortable with total solitude. Rarely does anyone truly want to be alone, 100% of the time. Even the most introverted person can enjoy spending time with his or her family and friends. Rather, it simply means that if you take a day or two like this to yourself, you’re not suddenly itching to be around people. You’re comfortable spending time with yourself and you crave those moments alone, especially at the end of a busy and crowded day.
4. You are self-aware.
The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them, right? Turns out, that applies to yourself as well! If you’re an introvert who is used to spending large chunks of time alone, in silence, chances are you’ve gotten to know yourself pretty well by now. As such, many would describe you as self-aware.
You know what you want and what you don’t, you know what interests you, and you know what you want your future to look like. You enjoy learning more about yourself and finding out new discoveries about your inward emotions. You might pursue this deeper understanding by delving into your hobbies, engaging in retrospection on your past experiences and lessons learned, and even reading books or listening to podcasts that encourage self-discovery.
5. You’d rather learn through observation.
There are some people who jump right into unfamiliar territory and gain their sea legs while learning how to swim. In other words, they learn by actively doing. Maybe that means taking the reins on a group presentation or volunteering to help steer a new fundraising committee. Extroverts might not always be confident or sure of what they’re doing, but they dive into it anyway and learn best via hands-on interaction.
On the other hand, introverts are more likely to learn by listening, or by observing others. They are generally more patient in nature and would rather take the time to watch someone else perform a task before they do it to make sure they understand. In essence, this is the opposite of taking a trial-and-error approach.
While you’re still working on perfecting the approach, you’re most likely to practice in private, away from the public eye, so that when you do make your debut, you can be sure that you’re doing it correctly. Do you prefer to watch rather than to participate in new activities? If so, you may be an introvert.
Embracing (Not Running From) Your Introversion
We all react to social situations differently and it’s nearly impossible to categorize us into one specific box that we fit into all of the time. An extroverted person might go through a season of introversion, wherein he or she just needs to spend a little more time alone and engage in self-care and personal reflection. Or, an introvert may suddenly experience a burst of extroversion and feel the need to get out there, open some new doors and make some new connections.
If you’ve read this list and agree with the items above, chances are high that you’re an introvert at heart. Rather than running from this understanding, embrace it as an integral part of your identity and makeup. You’re reflective, thoughtful, patient and meticulous and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Should your personality shift over time, that’s a part of the process as well. The key is taking the time to listen to your responses and take a closer look at what makes you “you.” Then once you know, lean into that knowledge and take comfort in that understanding.