DISCLAIMER: There’s a whole range of degrees of introversion. This article might not apply to you or anyone you know. This is in general terms and about some things that I’ve experienced.
I’m a pretty introverted person. I spend a lot of time by myself and inside my head. Unfortunately, this can be a problem when I have to interact with big groups of people (like, I’d rather read Game of Thrones instead of going to a bar). It gets overwhelming, quickly. Mostly because I’m trying to keep up with what everyone is saying, and I forget to participate.
Introverted people, like myself, are told that they’re being shy (or awkward) a lot. It’s more of a situation where I like to pay attention to what everyone is saying and get caught up in thinking through it. Alternatively, I don’t know who I should be paying attention to. I’m busy thinking about everything that’s being said and it takes up all my focus.
I experience the world in a very internal way. It sounds odd, but all I mean is that I like to look at things and analyze them. It’s very much about an event’s impact on my personal world and my thoughts about it rather than external opinions.
My sister always tells me that I’m being awkward when we go out together. I don’t feel awkward, though (most of the time), unless it gets pointed out to me and then I start getting a case of social anxiety. In small groups or one-on-one, I do very well because I can keep track of what’s going on, but in bigger groups it becomes a little more difficult (let’s have a fangirling session because I exceed in those).
I’m sure that everyone has at least one friend, family member or acquaintance that is introverted. Here are some guidelines for the World to understand introverts:
1. Don’t tell them that they’re being shy or awkward. They probably don’t feel that way to begin with and pointing it out will be counterproductive.
2. I can assure you that they’re probably being quiet because they’re paying attention to what’s going on. They’re not angry or upset.
3. If you think that they’re being left out, then try to include them. By this I mean that you should try to create natural openings in the conversation where they can participate.
4. Maybe the introvert in your life goes off by him or herself for a while. Don’t get on them about it. There’s probably nothing wrong. The reason I do it, for example, is to recharge a little bit. Big groups tire me out.
5. A lot of introverts like being around people. More often than not though, we just enjoy doing things by ourselves. We’re not being anti-social.
If you’re extroverted, you don’t have to walk on eggshells around people who are introverted, but definitely try to understand that it’s a very different way of perceiving and participating in social activities. Quite simply, being introverted is another way of interacting with the world.