Learning to socialise an introvert By Sadia Maqsood
With so much written on personality types, about introverts and extroverts, chances are, most of us do have an idea of the kind of people we are. Those who are extroverts have a comparatively easier ride as they get along with most people and in most circumstances, but the ones who are shy, or who are generally referred to as introverts, can find most situations tense.
If you are an introvert, you are also likely to be asked these kinds of questions: “Why are you so quiet?” “Why are you so shy?” “What did you just say? I can’t hear you.” “Can you be a little louder?”
No matter which social setting such people are in — be it classrooms, groups or get-togethers —they get asked at least one of the questions above. And almost always, they have no idea how to respond without feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes they wish they weren’t an introvert so that they didn’t have to deal with such awkward situations every day and everywhere.
I get it. That’s what it is like for all of us in the introvert community. It seems that the world is designed for extroverts, the loud people, the energetic ones and the ones who are not our type. And because it is not designed to accommodate us, we have a hard time fitting in the crowd and making our voices heard in every social situation, ranging from the classroom to the podium.
I remember when I was in school and the teacher would ask a question, I would raise my hand to answer but almost always got ignored while the extroverted kids in class would say aloud anything that came into their minds and get acknowledged. Every time this happened, I would start to worry because I really wanted marks for class participation, but couldn’t figure out how I ever would.
Even in groups, the amazing ideas introverts have inside their heads never find a way out. This is one reason why they love writing, because that is where they can freely express themselves.
But do all things happen sitting at home with your thoughts, pen and paper? I wish this was the case, but, sadly, it’s not. Every single day, you have to face a lot of social situations the moment you step outside of your room. For most us, the greatest socialising happens in schools.
Since it’s clear that one can never completely avoid socialising, the next big question is, how do you socialise as an introvert?
But first of all, who exactly is a social introvert? A social introvert is simply someone who isn’t ashamed about being an introvert. He speaks up when necessary, stands up for his own self, instead of waiting around, connects with people he finds valuable and creeps back into his shell when he’s had enough of the external world.
I have a few tips that can actually help you become one. I learned some of them from Susan Cain, author of the best-selling book Quiet This is what Cain says about social introverts:
“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love or anything they highly value”
Remove the ‘introvert5 label
I know, it sounds odd but this is really important. Most of us put the introvert label on ourselves which makes us think we ‘cannot’ socialise. We start to believe that introverts are supposed to talk less and stay quiet. They cannot talk too
much or confidently express themselves because B those are extrovert-spe-cific traits. This label stops us from giving our best and taking advantage of our unique strengths.
Introverts didn’t come in this world with a set of rules to live by, the same way as extroverts didn’t. They can talk whenever they want and be as loud as they please. If a person is an introvert, it does not mean they are supposed to act in a certain way. They should feel free to express themselves in any way they feel comfortable.
Stretch up to your full capacity Some of us prefer to stay inside your own shell most of the times because that is where we feel most comfortable. But sometimes, it’s necessary to come out of our shell.
Let’s say you have to work with a group in class. Of course, you don’t want to be talked over by the others and cornered, you have some amazing ideas and really want to express them. Above all, you don’t want your grades to decline just because you didn’t have the courage to speak.
So what do you do? This is where you step outside your comfort zone, aka your shell. You forget that you are an introvert who hardly ever speaks and is terrified of people. You start expressing your ideas and communicating with other people, no matter how daunting that may seem. You do whatever is necessary to do get your work done.
You have the ability to do all of this, if only you try.
Recharge your batteries
As introverts, our social batteries go down really fast. It’s nothing to be ashamed of because it’s natural. We are not the social type and hence it always takes extra effort for us to socialise, which mentally exhausts us. Accept the fact that socialising for you will mean effort and that can drain you. You may feel like running home in many situations, but that’s rarely ever an option.
So what you should do instead is find a quiet place where you can go to recharge your batteries. This doesn’t have to be a faraway jungle in Africa, but any quiet spot such as a gallery or even a bathroom. When you’ve had some quiet time and feel energy coming back to you, go out there again and make things happen.
“After an hour or two of being socially on, we introverts need to turn off and recharge…. This isn’t antisocial It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone without thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.”—Jonathan Rauch
Connect with other introverts
It’s normal for us quiet types to feel like a fish out of water in social settings. You might feel you are the only one of your kind, and this can make you feel lonely and out of place. But there are always other introverts like you whom you can connect with. Connecting with them can be very uplifting in social situations. You gain confidence and rather than spending your time feeling uncomfortable, you spend it with another amazing human beings like you. Besides social situations, it can be beneficial in other ways too. With an introvert, you can talk and laugh when you feel lonely, but as soon as you feel the need to retreat into your shell, you can do so without feeling guilty of offending the other person or coming off as rude.
Introverts understand each other really well and being around one or several can keep you from going insane in a loud and noisy world. It’s always good to know that you have somebody with you who will not judge you for who you are or force you into pretending to be someone else, but accept the real you.
Be your own self
Have you ever met a pretend-extrovert? A pretend-extrovert is someone pretending to be an extrovert because they can’t accept their introversion. They talk more than they can manage and socialise more than their batteries allow them. The end result is them feeling exhausted, miserable and wishing they were safely inside their room.
All introverts can socialise to some extent and crossing their limits can make things catastrophic. They become mentally exhausted. They end up feeling like someone they are not. The key here is to know what your limits are and how much socialising you can handle in La a given amount of time. Maybe it is an hour each day. Or maybe it is only once a week.
Identify what works for you and how far you can manage to step outside your comfort zone. Overdoing it can overwhelm you and even break you.
As the title of this article suggests, you don’t have to learn how to be an extrovert, rather how to socialise as an introvert. This means learning to socialise while being true to your nature.
I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote:
“You don’t have to transform yourself into an extrovert to succeed in life or work. As an introvert, what works for you on the job is going to be different from what works for an extrovert — and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to do things that play to your introvert strengths and needs. You can be dazzling in your own quiet way.” — Jenn Granne-man, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World