You have probably seen or read “helpful” articles that instruct introverts on “How to Be More Social.” What?? My favorite people are introverts, all beautiful souls who I wouldn’t change for the world. Since I’m the biggest extrovert that ever thrilled at the sight of a busy mall, I’d like to offer my advice on how extroverts can be happier staying at home. You may find some nuggets of truth that help bring balance your outgoing personality. (Or you can share this with your favorite people-person!)
Get Alone Time
If you’re an extrovert, your natural instinct doesn’t motivate you to be energized by quiet contemplation. It will take you more time to appreciate being alone. Do it anyway. (maniacal laugh)
As a fire wife, I have ⅓ of my evenings to myself after the kids are in bed. It helped to start treating myself as if I’m good company. I have interesting thoughts, I know what I like, and sometimes, I make myself snacks. Quiet time still doesn’t recharge me, but it’s taught me valuable things about myself.
There are so many memes on the internet about introverts being excited to cancel. Apparently, we don’t need to go to everything? And maybe we should even teach that to our kids, that they don’t feel pressure to participate in everything.
Hey, if introverts are encouraged to force themselves to join stuff, you can suffer through FOMO. Yeah, I’ve cried in my closet when “everyone” else was out having fun on a Saturday night. Maybe it’s character-building.
A first step to canceling, is to click “Interested” on all the events, so Facebook will remind you what you are missing. Then evaluate your resources (time and energy included!) to see if you need to cancel something. Deep breaths. Tell them sorry you can’t make it. I believe in you.
While you’re shut-in (I mean, enjoying canceling), do something special for yourself. Blare dat music, dance it out, take a nap, take a bath, rent a movie. You can also turn that open slot into rich, quality family time to remind you that circling the wagons is sometimes better than hitting the trail. (Family time = Little House on the Prairie around here.)
Create social rituals to remind you to withdraw. Maybe it’s getting up early, so you have a quiet moment to read, journal or meditate before going out to see all the people. Give yourself a curfew for events. I love to be the last one at a party. I really do. But setting a time to leave and prioritizing my sleep can actually be more beneficial than more social time. Gasp.
Shift your focus from groups of people to individuals. This will make you more introvert-y. They are good at it. Even in a group, see who you can focus on one-on-one, giving them all your attention. Yes, there will be a bunch of people that you didn’t get to say hi to. It’ll be ok.
When choosing what to do with your (likely introverted) spouse, choose places (like home) that allow for intimate conversation without crowds. Maybe you were all hyped up about going out with a whole group of couples. (It me.) A quiet home date can bring quality time and deep topics you might have otherwise missed.
Don’t just respond, focus on listening and thinking. You don’t have to talk so much. Lean in to the gaps in conversation without interrupting them. I sometimes realize I’ve commandeered the conversation. I also have to remember to physically sit still while listening or even watching TV with an introvert. Don’t fold laundry or twist a string or fidget. My introverts really appreciate when I can be still.
Consider ways you can express yourself non-verbally, with body language more than your actual voice. You’re so loud, extrovert friend. At least, that’s what they tell me.
We can do this, extroverts. We can be less social.
Each personality type is beautiful and worthy of being honored in their own way:
extrovert, introvert and ambivert (didn’t know that was a thing? oh yeah!)
Let’s all commit to growing into the very best, balanced version of our own selves.
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