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At The Party, Not The Life Of It: What It Means To Be A Social Introvert

The term “social introvert” sounds a bit like an oxymoron. You’re either social, or you’re an introvert.

However, let’s not forget introversion and extroversion have nothing to do with how social you would like to be.

It’s all about where you get your energy and what activities require energy from you. Do you leave feeling refreshed after going to a party or after taking a walk by yourself? Does it take a lot of energy for you to be social or does it take a lot of energy for you to be alone?

Typically, introversion and extroversion can coincide with their respective levels of sociability. But sometimes, they don’t.

You can be an antisocial extrovert or a social introvert. I am definitely what you would call a “social introvert.” It’s a fun dynamic to be, but it does come with a few pitfalls:

Being a social introvert means you crave social situations, even though you know they will drain you. You love birthday parties and big dinners and yes, even family reunions, even though you know you’ll need recovery time afterward.

Being a social introvert means you don’t see “recovery time” – aka time to be alone – as “anti-social” time. You wouldn’t label going to the gas station as “anti driving” time, so the same applies here. I’m just refueling.

Being a social introvert means you love having roommates, so long as your bedroom is yours and yours alone.

Being a social introvert means desperately wanting to get to know and meet new people, but not knowing how to start a conversation.

It takes so much energy to approach new people and come up with pleasantries. Why does everyone else make this look easy? Is there any way to skip all the formalities and just get into the fun, deep conversations?

Being a social introvert means embracing your geeky, weird side because it is seriously easier to bust a crazy move on the dance floor or tell a dumb joke than it is to attempt small talk.

Being a social introvert means coming alive when you meet a shy or introverted person at a party. It’s like, “Hey! I know what it’s like! Takes a lot of energy to be here, huh? This is a good foundation for starting a conversation!”

Being a social introvert means concerts are heaven. You are surrounded by people who all have something in common – namely, an affinity for the music – and you don’t have to focus too much on how you’ll start conversations with anyone. Instead, you can dance and sing with the person next to you.

Being a social introvert means any organized, activity-oriented group outing is heaven. Any chance to be surrounded by people — especially people who all have something in common — and doing something together is wonderful, especially when the burden of starting up conversation out of nowhere doesn't exist.

Being a social introvert means you love being friends with extroverts. They want to go to all the parties and talk to all the people and you will gladly hang out alongside them, contributing to the conversation whenever possible.

However, being a social introvert means sometimes, you'll become a bit too much of a tagalong to your extroverted friends. "Sorry, buddy, but being social is just so much easier when I can ride on your coattails!"

Being a social introvert means you understand what it's like to run out of social energy and that it might have absolutely nothing to do with how tired you are.

You know all you need is some time alone and you’ll be right back in action, but it might look weird if you suddenly leave the part and take a walk by yourself.

Being a social introvert means sometimes, you really just like to observe. It doesn’t mean you’re being antisocial or you want to be alone.

It also doesn’t mean you feel like you’re being left out of the conversation. Sometimes, it really is just fun to watch the rest of the world operate.

Being a social introvert means inevitably, people will misread you. To some, you’re that shy person. To others, you’re very much the extrovert who attempts to seem "deep" by calling herself an introvert.

To others, you’re the weird person who can’t strike up conversation to save her life, but can strike a goofy dance move at the drop of a hat. But that’s okay, you wouldn’t trade in how you operate for the world.