It’s not easy being an introvert. Little things that don’t bother extroverts — like hanging out in groups, unexpected phone calls, and being put on the spot — can chip away at your energy. That’s because we introverts have a less active dopamine reward system than extroverts, so the things that energize extroverts just don’t excite us as much. In fact, they can be downright draining, leading us to suffer from something known as the “introvert” hangover; this is when we feel tired, irritable, and even physically unwell after too much socializing. But introverts aren’t freaks of nature (even though we may feel that way, especially growing up). Being an introvert is a perfectly normal “thing” to be; studies show that introverts make up about 30-50 percent of the population.
If you’re an introvert, you probably deal with dozens of little annoyances every day — and they all add up. Can you relate to these 26 small difficult things? I can’t speak for every introvert, but I believe this list is generally true:
1. When someone immediately calls you instead of just answering your text.
2. When the teacher says these dreaded words: “This is a group project. No exceptions.”
3. When you’re being quiet because you’re daydreaming, or you just don’t have anything to say at the moment, and someone asks, “Are you okay? You look sad/upset.” Sigh. This is just your face.
4. When you’re trying to read or do something alone, and your roommate or significant other keeps interrupting you with comments about little things, like something they saw on Facebook.
5. When you’re excited that you have nothing to do after work; then your friend texts and says, “We’re still on for tonight, right?” You completely forgot about the plans you made — there goes your downtime.
6. When you want to leave a party or event because it’s draining, but the person you rode with is having fun and doesn’t want to go yet.
7. When people point out how quiet you are, as if making you feel even more self-conscious will suddenly make you open up.
8. When you show up to your job and work hard every day, but your boss doesn’t really know what your contributions are, because you don’t run around tooting your own horn.
9. When you want to talk to someone interesting/attractive, but you have no idea how to start the conversation.
10. When someone keeps talking and talking, and you don’t want to be rude and interrupt them, but you’re getting tired of listening, and your patience for being supportive is running out.
11. When people think you’re not having fun because you’re being quiet.
12. When people think you’re shy or don’t like them, but that’s not the case at all — it’s because you just met them and you haven’t figured out how to interact with them yet.
13. When you’re getting worn out, and you go to leave the party or event, and someone makes you feel guilty by asking incredulously, “You’re leaving already?”
14. When the teacher calls on you even though you weren’t raising your hand (because you never say much in class and she wants you to feel “included” by getting the chance to “participate”).
15. When your coworkers expect you to eat lunch with them, but you’ve already spent all morning with them, and the lunch hour is your only quiet refuge away from people.
16. When you’re so desperate to get away from people for a few minutes that you hide in the bathroom.
17. When you host a social event in your home, but there are those two people who stay long after everyone else has left and just keep talking obliviously — even after you’ve cleaned up and mentioned three times how tired you are.
18. When someone texts you and wants to hang out right now. As in, “I’m almost at your house.” You didn’t get any time to mentally prepare yourself to socialize.
19. When you want to talk about the universe, the meaning of life, and other deep topics, but everyone else is talking about celebs, office gossip, or their weekend plans.
20. When you finally get some time to yourself, and you get a call/text notification.
21. You have a lot of online friends, but of course none of the best ones live anywhere near you, so you end up spending Saturday night at home talking to them online. You fantasize about hanging out with them somewhere but it would be so hard to actually make that happen.
22. When you’re on public transportation and the person next to you keeps trying to talk to you, even though you’re reading a book, or you have headphones in. Isn’t it obvious that you’re not in the mood to chat?
23. When your best friend or significant other gets hurt because you don’t want to hang out with them tonight. Seriously, you love them, but you need a few hours to yourself sans people to maintain your sanity.
24. When you don’t want to go to the party/event because you know it will be draining, but no matter what excuse you come up with, you still sound like an unsociable jerk.
25. When you come home and thought the house would be empty, but your roommate or a family member is unexpectedly there.
26. When you just want to be left alone, but suddenly, that’s when everyone needs you.
Are you an introvert — or do you have one in your life? Find out what’s really going on with introverts in my upcoming book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World.