The moment I embraced my introverted nature was incredibly liberating because I finally understood that there was nothing wrong with me and my need for alone time and that I still liked my friends even If I didn’t want to spend 24/7 connected to them.
Nowadays I run my own coaching business, which allows me to spend (blissfully) many hours of my day alone working from home, but paradoxically I feel like I never had a more fun and pleasant social life than before!
How is that possible? Well I found my own balance between my need to be alone and my desire to interact with other human beings.
Growing up I experienced the two extreme cases, I clearly remember some early teenage years in which all I wanted to do was staying home and read a book on my couch escaping from the outside noise, and I also remember a couple of years after in which all I was doing was meeting new friends, having late parties and travelling in big groups of people.
Both situations were big learning experiences that helped me know my highly sensitive and introverted nature better, even if I didn’t know it at the time:
- When I was spending lots of time alone, I felt like I could do whatever I wanted ALL the time and cultivate my curiosities about anything from books, movies, interests and dream about my future plans as an adult. But each second of my free time was spent thinking about stuff, which was exhausting and stressful for my body and my energy was focused on my future and not really enjoying the present moment. I also felt lonely and isolated, losing opportunities to learn from other people.
- At the same time when I spent all my free time networking and interacting with others I felt much more present, I found my tribe of people which was awesome and I had lots of fun, but it was physically draining and I ended up sleeping too late at night as I couldn’t get to bed without cooling down my energy and having some essential alone time.
Today I finally feel pretty satisfied of my social life and I have a couple of tips I want to share with you, especially If you’re living in one of the two extremes and resonate with the way I was feeling some years ago:
EMBRACE YOUR NATURE GUILT-FREE
This is probably the first and most important advice I can share. If you’re visiting this online space you probably know it already, but it’s always a good reminder since we still live in a society that encourages being extroverted and sometimes portrays introversion as a problem to solve.
But being an introvert is not weird, which is like thinking that being human is a weird thing! As introverts we have an amazing way of seeing the world and a quiet power that is essential for the functioning of the world around us, so the moment you accept and embrace this truth, everything will change in your life!
I personally have many memories growing up of feeling guilty because I wasn’t the loud funny one, because I preferred hanging out with a friend or a book instead of going to a big party, or because I liked travelling by myself or needed a lot of downtime.
If you feel guilty as well, ask yourself:
What these moments alone bring to my life? Which activities recharge me the most? And keep these reasons as a reminder every time guilt comes up.
Maybe you’re a student, or you work in an office or for yourself. In any situation there are ways to create healthy boundaries and give yourself the alone time you need to slow down and recharge your batteries.
Some ideas that worked for me are:
- Creating a morning routine to take care of myself before going out in the world
- In the same way having an evening routine in place so you have time to wind down and calm the nervous system after a long social day
- Go to sleep early to guarantee enough rest
- If it’s possible for you, batch social activities on specific days or time of the day when you feel more outgoing
People cannot read your mind, so in situations in which it may seem obvious to you to need time for yourself, it’s not obvious for the others.
A crystal clear communication is super helpful, and will make your friends feel part of your inner universe. It’s not always easy, but especially if you’re planning a trip with friends or situations in which you know you’ll have more social time than you can handle, explain clearly to your friends that you will need some alone time and it has nothing to do with them.
In this way the moments in which you will want to escape in your own space will not feel awkward and you will be able to recharge and be a better friend when you come back to the social scene.
Sometimes even 10 minutes of meditation, or simply staring at the flowers in the park can be extremely rejuvenating!
PLAN YOUR SOCIAL LIFE
I find that planning social interactions in advance can be a great tool to really enjoy your social life and have quality time with the people you love.
You can do this by tracking on a journal when your energy is more outgoing and plan accordingly.
The benefit is that your friends will enjoy the best version of you and you can “mentally prepare” to spending a few hours interacting with people.
This doesn’t mean lacking spontaneity or not being there when your friends need your support, but it simply put you into a nicer vibe and make the social moments more pleasant because you actually want to be there and your energy will not be drained.
LEARN TO SAY “NO”
This last tip is actually both for introverts and extroverts and it’s about learning to say “NO”.
Sometimes we fill all our time with so many social engagements because we think we have to do so or we will disappoint people If we don’t show up. But the truth is that by saying yes to everyone we end up stretching ourselves too thin to fulfill other people’s needs at the detriment of our own.
So we give and give and we end up with an empty cup and a resentful mind.
Next time you’re invited to a social event or thinking you have to help that friend moving house on a Saturday morning put a hand on your heart and ask yourself :
“Does this light me up? Am I doing it out of pleasure or because I am afraid of some negative consequences?”. And “Is saying yes to this person means that I am saying no to myself?”
Pick the advice that resonates the most with you and trust that you can have an amazing and nurturing social life in your own introvert terms.