People often think of introverts as extremely shy people, but that is misleading. While shyness can occur in introverts, the true definition has to do with the energy someone gets from being alone versus being in a group. Extroverts get energized by being around people, while social activity, on the other hand, can exhaust introverts. Introverts are introspective by nature and like to process the world through their own thoughts.
Introverts can have fulfilling social lives that include meaningful friendships. This doesn't mean the introvert's social calendar will look the same as that of the extrovert, but that's okay. Here are some ways introverts can make friends.
Plan for Alone Time After an Outing
Too often, introverts make a valiant effort to get to know people by trying to adjust to their schedule. They may meet friends out for drinks, then a movie, then dancing, and all that socializing may prompt the introvert to bow out the next time in favor of staying home. It's important for introverts to schedule a limited amount of time that is comfortable to them to do a group activity. After the activity, allow for alone time to recharge your batteries.
If you're going on a retreat or other full-day event, for example, let people know that you'll meet up with them later. If you feel that people will judge you for leaving early, don't be afraid to tell them you are an introvert and just need some quiet time for a while. Assure people that you are enjoying yourself, because sometimes people can take it the wrong way when you leave to be on your own.
Go Out of Your Comfort Zone
It should be obvious that you'll meet people more easily when you do something you enjoy. However, introverts are often criticized for sticking with activities that seem "boring" to others, such as lectures, book groups, or quiet dinners. These activities are actually great for meeting people, but it's okay to go out of your comfort zone, also, both with the types of events you attend and the way you engage.
If you find yourself at a large event, for example, the natural tendency is to hang back and listen to conversations rather than be a part of them. When you're out, realize that you'll need to go beyond that so you can be a part of the bigger conversation. If you do this just one or two times during a night, you'll connect with many more people you would have otherwise.
Learn the Art of Small Talk
Introverts can sometimes find small talk incredibly useless and even tiring. Their minds and emotions work differently, and very often they enjoy "big talk" (about concepts and ideas), and that's okay. But small talk is a part of making friends.
In order to meet new people, you have to be able to chat about the mundane things in life in order to connect. More than that, launching into deep conversations with someone you've just met can put them off. As you get to know them, you can have the kinds of conversations you enjoy.
Quality Versus Quantity
So often people judge introverts by the number of friends they have, but an introvert can have a fun and fulfilling life by having one or two close friends. Their friendships are different in nature than extroverted people. Again, there is no right or wrong, it's simply an individual preference. Too often people try and get introverted people "out more" or push them to increase their social circle, thereby making them feel bad that they don't have a large group of friends.
If you're an introvert and you feel okay with the number of friends you have, ignore the well-meaning people who try to increase your social circle. However, be open to the occasional new experience, because you may meet a great new friend who has a lot in common with you.
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