If you’re an introvert – this blog post is for you.

Let me set the scene.

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m walking back to the office after lunch; I push open the glass doors to my building, carefully balancing a coffee in my spare hand, and dash across the reception area into one of the three lifts.

On entering the claustrophobic six-foot square space, I’m immediately hit with the unmistakable stench of McDonald’s; every time I breathe in, I taste stale chips, sweaty burgers and the artificial tang of their sweet ‘n’ sour sauce. The air and my pores feel congested; a cursory glance in the lift’s mirrors, which are framed with harsh LED lights, confirms my make-up is melting. I’m more clown than city professional. With a sigh, I turn from my reflection and jab the close button.

As if the situation couldn’t get any worse (I’m the queen of first-world problems), I see a woman suddenly stride towards me, appearing out of NOWHERE, an apparition in business attire. She gives me a half-smile and weakly waves her hand, a signal, I assume, for me to hold the doors.

grimace grin back, luring her into a false sense of security, all the while surreptitiously stabbing the up button. The thought of sharing this swampy space with another breathing human sends shivers down my spine; not only have I got an irrational fear of small talk (yes Susan, the weather outside IS terrible), but I’m also positively certain there’s not enough oxygen for us BOTH to make the ascending journey.

As I resign myself to defeat, the woman only metres away, the doors finally creak into submission; she frantically waves her arms in protest. The last thing she would have seen was my maniacal grin – made even more terrifying by the blood-red lipstick that had somehow gathered on my teeth.

Elevator photo

Far from feeling embarrassed over this social faux-pas, I felt relieved. Honestly, I’ve shut the lift on way more people than I’d care to admit. Every time, without fail, it feels shamefully triumphant.

As an introvert, human contact is complicated and everything from friendly hugs to impromptu parties falls under the umbrella of unwanted social interaction. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like people. Honestly, I do. But it seems to take me a lot more energy to be around them, particularly for long or unplanned periods of time.

I’m not unusual in this way. Introverts are everywhere. You could be sitting next to one right now. You could even be married to one!? To check, just place them next to a window and see if they go up in flames – introverts, like vampires, notoriously hate sunlight. Joking aside, we’re a misunderstood breed. You’ll find us in corners at parties; our crippling shyness is mistaken for snobbiness and our tendency towards the non-verbal perceived as insulting. Obviously, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In the name of good content hahahahaha, I’m baring my soul to help you:

  1. Understand the introverts in your life.
  2. Not feel so bad for being one because I’ve done everything and worse.

Also, I’ve heard repenting is good for the soul. It may not be too late for me yet.

Confessions of an introvert

Please don’t invade my personal space

As an introvert, lifts, tubes and public bathrooms are distressing places. If I could wear a sign around my neck saying, “please don’t come within two metres of me”, I would. But, alas, it’s a free world and I’m certain nobody would listen. Instead, I’ve found “accidentally” elbowing people works a treat.

London tube

Especially with unwanted human contact

When someone goes to hug me, my body stiffens and my arms do this weird thing where they automatically extend in protest. Honestly, this isn’t just an excuse I use with my boyfriend it is; it applies to family too. Maybe I wasn’t held enough as a child or maybe I just prefer to use my words. Either way, touching is off-limits.

I’ve hidden to avoid someone I know

I’m not proud of this, mostly because I’ve been caught pretty much every time and ended up looking like a complete bellend. To avoid speaking to friends, I’ve jumped (and been followed) into random shops, hidden behind trees and pretended to be on the phone (oh, the irony). In desperate cases, where there was no obvious escape route, I’ve just stopped dead in my tracks, turned around and marched the other way.

I am notoriously difficult to get hold of

If you text or call, it might take me a few days or never to get back to you. Usually, this is because I put my phone down and forget. But sometimes, it’s just because I don’t want to explain myself. Have you ever told a friend you don’t want to go to the pub? Honestly, it’s worse than a break-up. THE BETRAYAL.

If you want to hang-out, it must be pre-planned

Nothing scares me more than a spontaneous social gathering. I’m a planner by nature; my life is one long to-do list, characterised by multi-coloured post-it notes and panic. Everything is scheduled ahead of time, even mundane tasks like washing and changing my bed-sheets. While this can be a great attribute, it doesn’t leave me much wiggle-room for surprise ventures. It also makes my excuses so much lamer: “No, Susan, I can’t come out, I’m rearranging my knicker draw”.

I’ve left parties and events without saying goodbye

Introverts ALWAYS choose mozzarella sticks and my bed over tequila shots and regret. Any sane person would. My distaste for clubs and crowded places means I’ve bailed on many a night out; while my mates are dancing away, I’ve snuck home and started re-watching true crime documentaries on Netflix. Each to their own.

Networking is my kryptonite

There’s nothing more cringe-worthy to an introvert than walking around like a LinkedIn profile, chit-chatting about work and five-year plans. Besides the shameless self-promotion, it’s incredibly dull. Also, I promise you EVERYONE is lying. It may seem like Nigel from accounts has the perfect life, but I’m sure he’s secretly dying inside like the rest of us.

Crowded networking event

Conversation with me can get awkward

I don’t like small-talk and think 74% of what people say is uninteresting, so I have a habit of skipping over social niceties and jumping straight into the BIG STUFF. You heard me, we’re talking politics at the dinner table, spirituality and feminism. As you can imagine, I’m terrible on first-dates.

I plan my outings around when it’s quietest

I live for early morning gym sessions and late-night library trips (or I would if I went to the gym and/or visited libraries). I prefer to venture out when it’s quieter and there are fewer people fighting for resources. Obviously, because I have to work, I can’t always plan my day around these times; the least favourite part of my week is the evening Aldi shop. So. Many. People. I’ve actually wrestled a woman for fishcakes before.

I find it hard to handle other people’s emotional outbursts

Because hugs are out of the question, I end up muttering “there, there” over and over again, until the upset person realises crying to me is completely useless and stops.

I prefer children to adults

I love children; their inability to censor what they say is refreshing plus they prefer to eat than engage in any sort of conversation. I relate. Sometimes, I go to parties because I know, for a fact (always check), that there are free canapes. What more could a girl ask for?

I prefer animals to adults (and children)

Again, all my introverts will relate. They like to eat, nap and lounge. Occasionally, they’ll graciously accept a shoulder massage. Other times, they’ll try to scratch your eyes out.

A photo of a woman stroking a cat

I like being an introvert

Honestly, I like being an introvert. I feel like I’ve earnt it.

There was a time when I couldn’t stand to be alone; the thought of an evening by myself filled me with dread. What would I do? What was everyone else doing? Were people having more fun than me?! It was a long road realising none of that really mattered; when I stopped trying to please others, I started to figure out what made me happy.

Turns out, I don’t care much for late-night boozing, expensive brunches or crowded festivals. While my friends love travelling and going on crazy adventures, I’m much happier at home, with family, reading and practising yoga. It might seem boring, but it works for me as an introvert.

Learning to accept and be happy with your own company is a skill and one I’m incredibly thankful to have learnt. I’m not a hermit and enjoy going out, but now the thought of sitting at home is just as appealing also I’m broke AF.

If you liked this blog, read “25 things I’ve learnt in 25 years“.

Image credits: Pexels, Unsplash, Unsplash, Unsplash and Unsplash.