I frequently hear the following interesting comment in my conversations: “You can’t be an introvert. You are so social.” And I respond with, “I am indeed sociable…but only for brief periods. And yes, I am an introvert.”
Many introverts like to socialize; they just want a way to escape when they are “done.” Do any of the following scenarios sound characteristic of you or your favorite introvert?
You get impatient when you are ready to leave an event because you came with your friend or significant other who continues to socialize.
You dread being in a one-on-one conversation with someone who is an intense communicator, as it feels overbearing and/or exhausting.
You do not feel comfortable in situations where you are expected to make conversation for long periods of time with people outside of your inner circle.
When you are a visitor or you host a visitor for an extended time, you desire periodic breaks from the other person.
All of the above situations cause the introvert to feel “trapped”. In Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”, she refers to the introvert’s need for ‘restorative niches’, which is a term coined by Professor Brian Little, a former Harvard University Psychology lecturer. He defines a “restorative niche” as “the place you go when you want to return to your true self.” So think about it–if you find yourself unable to retreat to a restorative niche, you are going to feel trapped.
Before you turn down that next party/social/visit, plan your escape ahead of time:
Take your own transportation so you can leave whenever you want to.
Ask someone else to join in on the conversation to help relieve the pressure when you are feeling overwhelmed by someone who is intense.
Don’t feel pressured to stay for long periods in social situations. There is nothing wrong with leaving early.
When you are a visitor at someone’s home or have visitors at your home for extended periods of time, let them know you have work to do, errands to run, or some other type of activity that will give you the solitude you desire.
If you’re an introvert, you will find that you perform better in social situations when you have a planned “escape”. Just be sure to be polite about your escape so that others don’t take it personal. And if you are an extrovert, understand that an introvert’s escape does not mean they do not want to be with you. Rarely is it about you…it’s about their need to return to their true self.
If you have “escapes” that have worked well for you, please share them in the comments below!