What are your biggest introvert struggles?
On what should have been my first day of kindergarten, I hid under the bed, unwilling to trade the quiet familiarity of my home for the unsettling clamor of elementary school. My mother determined that I needed another year of preschool, bless her heart.
Since that time, I’ve managed to integrate somewhat successfully into society at large, but there are still many challenges that confront me as an introvert living in an extroverted culture. They are the same ones that confront every introvert at some time or another.
In this post, I’ll share what are, in my opinion, the top 5 introvert struggles.
1. People underestimate you.
Do people overlook you because you’re an introvert?
When I was in high school, I knew a youth pastor who loved extroverted leaders. He praised them and challenged the rest of us to emulate them. In his words and actions, he seemed to say, “If you’re an introvert, God wants you to become an extrovert.” So, for a long time, I felt as though there was something wrong with me.
I’ve since realized that there’s nothing wrong with introverts. There are, in fact, a lot of things right with us. Our contributions, which flow out of our quiet personalities, are both unique and needed.
2. You dislike large parties and group gatherings but feel obligated to go.
How many times have gone to a party you didn’t want to attend because you felt obligated to go?
Your boss, church, or family was hosting it, and as a member of the group, you were liable to show up. If you didn’t, others would interpret your absence as rejection and think you didn’t care about them. So you went, dreading the small talk and anxious to leave as soon as it was socially acceptable to do so.
While I enjoy my coworkers in one-on-one and small group settings, I dislike staff get-togethers. I have to force myself to go to our annual work picnic. Two months ago, my boss sent a save-the-date email out with information about this year’s picnic. I’ve opened and closed it several times, hoping that it will miraculously disappear and I’ll be free to stay home.
3. You struggle to think when others are talking.
This summer, I’ve worked from home. It’s been great for the most part. I have no commute, and I can choose when and where I work. The only downside is that it’s hard to concentrate with my wife and toddler around.
One minute, I’ll be thinking about how to type a sentence with the right words on the tip of my tongue, and the next, my mind’s gone blank. What happened?! I’ll think. Then, I’ll hear my wife on speaker phone with her mother or see my son latched onto the door screaming, “Out!”
You’ve probably experienced similar introvert struggles. You’re in your office trying to concentrate when a co-worker barges in to ask you a question. Or maybe you’re talking to an extrovert, thinking of a reply. Before you can get your thoughts together, he assumes you’ve got nothing to say and starts yacking again.
4. You hate talking on the phone.
Do you have to psyche yourself up to answer the phone?
Most of the time, I’m more than happy to let voicemail handle incoming phone calls, unless I know one is really important. One of the smartest things I ever did was connect my phone number to Google Voice. The service transcribed my voicemails so that I could scan for big ideas and quickly determine whether or not I needed to respond.
One of my readers told me that she prefers texting to phone calls by far. I can totally relate. How about you?
5. People think you’re weird because you like alone time.
During a professional development lunch break, I found an empty room where I could eat alone and read. A coworker, who happened to be swinging by, spotted me with my book. An expression of concern washed over his face as he asked, “Are you okay?” He must have thought I was sick or depressed when I was actually quite content.
Do people ever judge you for spending time alone? Do they tell you to get out more?