Do you talk too much and have trouble shutting up? Do you constantly feel the need to hang out with someone? Do you wonder how you can be quieter and enjoy being alone?
You probably hardly ever see headlines like these because most of the time they don’t exist. The characteristics mentioned above match the description of an extrovert. Extrovert is someone who is usually talkative, likes being around people, and avoids spending a lot of time alone. Someone with the opposite type of personality would be called an introvert. Introverts enjoy solitude and usually need a pause to recharge after being around people. Introverts are also thought to be less talkative than extroverts. This, however, is a generalization. Obviously there are extroverts who find it hard to chat with people though they maybe really want to. On the other hand, some introverts love communication and are extremely talkative yet need to be on their own sometimes. Also, not everyone is strictly an introvert or an extrovert, rather most people have a bit of both in them.
I definitely identify as an introvert. I really like (most) people, but hanging out with them can sometimes be absolutely exhausting. After being around people for a while, I usually need some time on my own to recharge my batteries. There are people whose company I can enjoy for a really long time. For example, I can be around my boyfriend for weeks on end. But eventually, I will need some alone time. And that doesn’t mean I don’t like my boyfriend; I do, in fact, quite a lot. It’s just the kind of person I am.
And (finally we get to the point of this article) there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Yet sometimes society makes it seem like there is. Remember the questions at the beginning of this article? You may well have seen headlines like them reversed. They usually go something like this. Is it hard for you to speak up? Having trouble starting conversations? Why do you feel the need to spend time alone? How to get out more?
The world in general is very extroverted. Social skills are valued highly, for example, at school and in the workplace. You need to be able to create connections, excel in group interactions, and have altogether good people skills to make it in life. And sure it’s important to, let’s say, be able to make friends. And of course you should be polite and nice to people, that’s just basic decency. But if quite a large part of the world’s population is introverted, why should you try to be an extrovert?
Why should introverts learn to maintain high energy levels around people when extroverts could easily just give them space when needed? Why should introverts learn to be loud but extroverts aren’t required to listen? Being introverted isn’t a bad thing, but a problem arises when everyone’s expected to be extroverted, and introverts get left behind. Just because extroverts are louder doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of introverts out there suffering in silence because the world doesn’t understand them.
So what can you do as an extrovert to help introverts around you? Well, for starters, the next time someone tells you they don’t want to go out, respect that and don’t try to persuade them. Create a safe space for your friends where they can tell you they don’t want to see anyone just because they don’t feel like it, without anyone questioning their decision. When I’m just generally tired of being around people and get asked whether I want to hang out with someone, I often feel like I need to come up with an excuse as to why I can’t see them. As if “I don’t feel like it” isn’t a good enough reason. And if I don’t provide a more solid explanation, they’ll take it personally and think I don’t want to see them, when in reality I just need a break from everyone.
It’s also good to think about whether you give others an opportunity to speak in a conversation. For me it can be hard to get my point across, especially in group conversations. If others speak constantly without a break and I don’t want to be rude and interrupt them, saying anything can be really difficult. If you’re talkative, that’s great, but remember to give others space to say what they want. And if someone who is usually quiet opens their mouth, please don’t interrupt them. It might’ve taken them a lot of courage to say what’s on their mind, so interrupting would be very inconsiderate. The art of being quiet is something we all need to learn.