A lot of misconceptions surround introverts. The term is often associated with someone awkward, shy and even anti-social. However, introversion doesn’t mean fearing being around people or disliking social events. Introverts can enjoy social events but may feel drained and need to rest after being surrounded by people. According to a Business Insider interview with Doctor of psychology Perpetua Neo, the difference between extroverts and introverts lies in the brain chemistry, with introverts having a lower threshold of dopamine sensitivity compared to extroverts.
If you find yourself drained and exhausted after a social event, this doesn’t mean you don’t like hanging out with people and should avoid future social events. It only means that you’re an introvert who needs to emotionally prepare before a social event and recharge afterwards with quieter downtime.
How introverts are different from extroverts
Because of their differences in brain chemistry, introverts and extroverts’ brains react differently during social contexts. While extroverts have no problem responding to social situations, it can be challenging for introverts. According to Business Insider, after too much social stimulation, an introvert’s nervous system is overwhelmed, so they need some time alone to recharge. Even though an introvert may have enjoyed the social event, they would still need to unwind and withdraw afterwards. Following solitary pastimes like reading a book calms and makes them happy. Meanwhile, an extrovert’s way of recharging is a busy surrounding and more social interaction to derive energy by being with more people.
Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between, social interaction and meeting new people is essential. With social media making online friends easier to find, and with dating apps and professional matchmakers hooking up potential partners, social skills and handling social situations are as important as ever.
If you’re an introvert, here are three ways you can feel comfortable and less overwhelmed during social situations.
Prepare topics for conversations
A majority of the anxiety introverts feel during social functions is from not being able to maintain a conversation, and suffering through an awkward silence. Prepare some questions to begin a conversation and find common ground with the other person. Typical starters may include “are you going anywhere for vacation this summer?” or “have you seen this movie?” Don’t be afraid to share information about recent events in your life to help stimulate a friendly exchange.
Spend time alone before going out
As well as the practical preparation of conversation topics, prepare yourself mentally by spending some quiet time alone before going out with a large group. Simply reading a chapter of a book, listening to calming music, or sitting inside your car for 10 minutes can help you calm down and condition yourself.
Take a break
If you feel overwhelmed in the middle of a big event, excuse yourself and take a break from the situation. Stepping outside to check the car, make a fictional phone call or to use the bathroom are useful escapes from crowded events. There’s nothing wrong with sneaking out for a minute to collect yourself and recharge.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable in social situations. It means that you need to prepare psychologically before a party and then have space to recharge afterwards. With estimates indicating that between 25 to 40 percent of the population are introverts, you are not alone in wanting some time to be alone.