Introverts: How to Have an Active Social Life
Introverts have an amazing impact upon the world. They have brought you Harry Potter, The Cat in the Hat, and the Theory of Relativity. They do interact with people, but do it differently than extroverts.
If you find that social situations wear you out, it may sound impossible to be introverted and have an active social life. The truth is it’s entirely possible. The key is to find a balance between introversion and being socially active. Being too social can be very exhausting for introverts. At the same time not having enough contact with others may leave you wanting more.
Don't think that being introverted means spending all of your time alone. Introverts can and do have a healthy and active social life.
If you're an introvert and want to know how to balance your need for alone time with a social life, here are a few strategies.
- Don’t pretend to be what you aren’t
There’s no need to pretend you’re an extrovert if you aren’t one. This just wears you out and makes you appear disingenuous. Pretending to be extroverted will only reinforce your belief it’s impossible to have an active social life as you are.
- Think about what would make your day perfect
How would your perfect day go? What is the ideal balance between people time and alone time for you? Work to create a matching level of social interaction in your real life. Also think about what you want to receive from your time with other people. Do you want new relationships? That will take more time and energy than with those you already know.
- Quality is Key
Introverts don’t need a large number of friends. They just want a few really good friends. Everyone has a limit on how much time they can spend with people. Introverts have a limited amount of energy that can spend on people. Plan your time and energy carefully. Having a few great relationships is better for an introvert than having a large number of casual relationships.
- Be willing to say no
If you aren’t feeling particularly social it’s okay to decline an offer to go out. It’s perfectly acceptable to stay at home and recharge your batteries. Going out when you’re exhausted just leaves you miserable and further depleted emotionally and physically. Take care of yourself.
- Be social at least once a week
Even if you already have friends you could lose the emotional connection to them by not spending time together regularly. This isn't true for all friends. There are those you will always be deeply connected to. You will find it helpful to set time aside time once a week to meet up with your friends or to make new ones. Schedule this into your week.
- Join a social group
Join a social group like a club or a sporting league. Find a way to get out of the house at least once a month for a social event like this. You might enjoy a book club or one where you participate in a hobby or craft you enjoy.
- Meet in places that suit the level of stimulation appropriate for you
Going to a light flashing nightclub or crowded bar can easily overwhelm an introvert. Consider a different venue like a coffee shop or a bookstore with less sensory stimulation so you can have a more enjoyable time and not feel exhausted at the end. Everyone has a better time when they do things they are comfortable with.
- Meet one new person a month
If you don't have any friends, make it a pattern to introduce yourself to someone new each month. This could be a neighbor, friend of a friend, someone you work with, or a complete stranger. Build a relationship with the people you like. You can let everyone else go. By the end of the year you’ll have formed the few connections you need.
- Learn to use open-ended questions
Introverts often find it difficult to begin conversations with those they don't know. They prefer to listen. Develop the skill to ask questions that encourage someone else to talk. Instead of asking simple questions like where they went to college, ask them what they enjoyed most about their time there. You only need a few really good questions and, over time, you’ll build up a reputation as being great at conversation even though you never actually say much.
It’s definitely possible to have an active social life while having an introverted personality. The idea of an introvert's social life is going to be different from how an extrovert sees an active social life. That you enjoy your life and the time you spend with your friends is what matters most. You should stretch yourself for sure, but there’s no need to make yourself miserable. Go for quality relationships with family and friends.
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