This is not meant to be an offensive chastising or a stern lecture. I have good intentions and high hopes for this not to be taken in that way.
However, as an introvert, I have something I need to say to all of the dear extroverts out there in the world.
I understand that you adore having the energy of other people around you. I respect that desire and I admire your enthusiasm to interact socially with others. Although I still don’t fully understand your nature, I am as curious as I am trepidatious about it.
That being said, there are things I need you to know. Things I may be too hesitant to say out loud.
I need you to know that when you invite me to social functions, it creates tension inside of me. It puts a spotlight on my inner conflict — the push and pulls of wanting to please others by saying YES to the things they want me to do and my strong yearning to be alone within my own familiar world.
I often spend countless amounts of time trying to figure out ways to back out of social obligations without being offensive or rude.
Though I have no desire to lose my friends and/or acquaintances, my natural instinct is to be a lone wolf and to shy away from intrusion.
It probably helps to say that my definition of intrusion is much different than yours. My interpretation of social encroachment is most likely what you would consider an act of social goodwill and general friendliness.
The epic back and forth between extroverts just trying to connect with others and introverts wanting to step back more frequently came hurtling into the spotlight during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.
What felt like agony for many extroverts not being able to see other people, go to clubs, bars, restaurants, or really any social venue at all — was actually a welcome relief for introverts like myself.
No longer did I have to think up polite excuses for not hanging out. There was now an internationally accepted reason NOT to hang out. The lockdowns were the epitome of an introvert's dream in many ways.
I certainly don’t want to generalize introverts or ignorantly throw them all into the same bucket of behavior. However, I can tell you that the divide between people who love to ‘pencil in’ activities and visits onto their calendars and the people who have never felt the need to pencil in anything, anywhere, whatsoever — has expanded vastly.
Not only is there a massive political divide right now — but there is a social divide between those who are chomping at the bit to be able to involve themselves in any social activity they can find and those who are actually feeling shell-shocked to have to be accountable for answering the calls for socializing again.
Introverts who got used to guilt-free introversion during the lockdowns are now feeling the pressure to dip their toes back into the pool of social obligation while feeling a sharp splash from their extroverted peers who are understandably diving in with great abandon.
The ‘return to normal’ ship has sailed for both extroverts and introverts. What we’re left with are a lot of questions about how we navigate new feelings about socializing going forward.
As an introvert, I want any extroverts out there to know that I don’t fault them for wanting to run towards parties, events, and filling up their calendars. I totally get it. That stuff is wonderful for those who relish those kinds of activities— but that’s not what drives an introvert. Introverts cherish alone time and reflection.
We’re also pretty terrified of being asked to socially commit to things again.
I would ask that extroverts everywhere realize that the introverts around you — those whom you know and love — are still barely learning to paddle through these returning waters of socializing. Hell — many of us are not even in the water yet.
If you know an introvert and you’re frustrated with their lack of involvement in social activities please try to be patient with them. Introverts function on a different level of energy. Just give us some space, time, and understanding.