Individuals have the capacity to learn how to act outside of our natural tendencies. This ability is a survival skill. As an introvert, I can spend time in large groups. I can answer on-the-spot questions when circumstances deem it necessary.
But because my brain is wired differently than an extrovert’s, I have a different tolerance level. Taking time to recharge my energy isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
If you’re an introvert, these strategies can help you maintain your emotional equilibrium:
- Create and maintain boundaries — even if your more extroverted friends or family members balk at them. Your sister might not understand why you don’t want to talk on the phone after 7 pm; that’s OK. What works for her may not work for you — and that’s okay!
- Respect your need for privacy. Protect is by not caving in to pressures to overshare. If learning new skills in a group setting is uncomfortable, find ways to learn on your own or with a private coach or tutor.
- Allow yourself to be comfortable with having a few close friends rather than a large group of acquaintances. Our culture often overemphasizes quality over quantity, especially when it comes to friendships (and how they’re portrayed on social media). Popularity can feel lonely to an introvert, who craves authentic connection.
- Give yourself time and space to adjust to new situations. While an extrovert might be comfortable diving in (headfirst!), you might be more comfortable observing — and then dipping one toe in the water at a time.
- Respond to questions and requests with intention. Introverts often need time to ponder a decision. It’s perfectly okay to say, “Let me think about that and get back to you” if you want time to think through your response.
- Most importantly, respect your introversion. Don’t try to force yourself to become more extroverted. It won’t work; you are who you are! Introversion and extroversion are inborn personality traits. Neither is inherently better than the other.