People who take their time to warm up in social situations probably had these 7 experiences growing up

What makes some people introverted and others extroverted?

And where the heck do ambiverts come from?!

Are we born the way we are or is it our experiences that form how social we become?

The fact of the matter is that it’s likely both.

I know that, in my case, my father is quite introverted, while my mother is fairly extroverted. So, genetically, it could have gone either way for me. Actually, I’m something of an introvert and my sister is definitely extroverted.

Did we just share the genes?

I think there’s more to it than that. While I’ve been an introvert for as long as I can recall, I also remember several experiences growing up that may have encouraged me to become more introverted.

Some of them might be surprising, but others are definitely common things that we introverts share.

In fact, they’re normal enough that we can normally guess that people who take their time to warm up in social situations probably had these seven experiences growing up.

1) Having a real depth of imagination

I can remember playing in the yard of a friend who lived down the street. He was a year younger than me, but our sisters were in the same class, so our mothers took turns looking after the pack of us between juggling jobs.

Kyle was a smaller boy and always lost at sports and physical games when we played them, but that was basically all he was focused on. But I was all about imagination.

If we got sticks and played sword fighting, I would imagine I was a knight, and he was my greatest foe. 

If we played baseball, for me, it wasn’t just a backyard game. I was pitching from the tallest mound in the galaxy with one of my six arms down toward the best batsman in the universe.

That sort of thing.

Kyle basically went along with things but would get a little frustrated if I was busy creating characters and weaving stories while he had to wait for the action.

Fast forward a dozen years.

I’d lost track of Kyle after his family moved away. But he popped back into my life in a surprising way.

I was working on failing first-year calculus, a discipline I still can’t wrap my head around. It didn’t help that this loudmouth guy would always have loud, personal conversations with the professor throughout every class.

Then, one day, I ran into his sister on campus. She told me her brother was there, too, and pulled out a picture of – you guessed it – that loudmouth in calculus. I guess it was no surprise that Kyle became a total extrovert while I turned out very differently!

2) Finding joy in reading

The power of my imagination didn’t stop at playing make-believe.

I also figured out really early on that reading was a powerful way to engage and grow my imagination and I took to it like a duck to water.

And ducks, as you might know, are particularly fond of water.

When I was in school, and these were the pre-internet days, mind you, literacy was a big issue, and various programs were instituted to get kids to read more. One actually gave you rewards at a popular pizza restaurant.

All you had to do was read, and then you’d get free pizza!

I was shocked to find out that someone would essentially pay me to do a thing I loved.  I sincerely hope that you’ve experienced this in your life as well because it’s magical.

At some point, my parents got a little worried about feeding me so much pizza and ended up convincing me to give away my treasured coupons to other kids.

But I couldn’t believe they needed them. Why would anyone not like reading?

Being able to immerse myself completely in a fantastical book was, for a long time, the thing I liked best in the whole world.

3) Being teased

Well, I got teased a bit, as you might have suspected.

Not too much, mind you.

You’d laugh to see me now, but growing up, I was almost always the biggest kid in my class. I just grew first, and by junior high, I was towering over my classmates. 

While that changed a few years later when everyone else caught up, I think it kept away the bravest bullies.

But there were still a few.

I got made fun of for reading all the time and being generally spaced out because I almost always had my head in the clouds.

I also know that other introverts got it a whole lot worse than I did. Some kids were constantly picked on, teased, and even made to cry, which only made things worse.

Kids can be so cruel!

4) Feeling odd or strange

lessons from viktor frankl that can help you thrive in later life People who take their time to warm up in social situations probably had these 7 experiences growing up

For many introverts, being teased and picked on is one way they find out they’re different. After all, bullies pick on easy targets and who’s easier than the weird, shy kid?

But that’s not everyone’s experience, and it wasn’t the main one for me, either.

I already mentioned imagination and reading as things I found that I did way more than others, but there were a lot of other things, too.

I never found myself interested in fast cars. I played sports and did OK, but I never had any real obsession with them. 

On the other hand, I had a crush on the same girl from first to fifth grade, and I definitely had to keep it a secret. Girls, of course, were icky.

I also did really well in school, and this was due in large part to loving to read and having a great imagination. As my teachers talked, I’d paint pictures in my mind to help illustrate their concepts – it was the same thing I did when I read books that didn’t have illustrations.

All of this made me really conscious that I stood out and seemed different from the rest of my classmates.

5) Experiencing a deep connection with nature

I think it’s a very normal thing for introverts to feel connected to nature.

Whereas you might find extroverts zooming through the natural world on jet skis and quads, introverts tend to take a slower approach.

It seems like we appreciate very different aspects.

Even as a kid, I loved being outside as much as possible, even in the winter. I’d crawl on the ground looking for bugs, climb trees, and play in the ravines near my home. 

Camping was a real joy.

At some point, I realized that I was perfectly happy doing most of these things without anyone else around.

Nature was enough, and I didn’t need other people to complete my experiences.

6) Feeling stressed or frustrated in groups 

As I mentioned, I really liked school and did pretty well at it. At least until calculus!

But one thing that really threw me was when we had to do something teachers called “group work,” but I always thought of it as “group messing around”.

I really thrived in the old-style school dynamic of the teacher up there talking and students listening and learning. It does work, just not for everyone.

But along the way, educational reform convinced teachers that students should also learn to socialize and collaborate so they would know how to successfully work in teams later.

I dreaded it.

I always worried that I’d get stuck carrying the group because that happened a lot. I also didn’t like having to answer to my peers. I thought they had nothing to do with my education!

In general, group work made me stressed and uncomfortable, and I know that’s true for many introverts out there.

7) Making a small number of deep friendships

Being an introvert doesn’t make a person totally antisocial.

Most introverts still socialize but tend to find bigger groups overwhelming. For that reason, they usually end up with small but very close groups of friends.

I know I did.

I went to a small primary school where we all really played together. But in high school, I found myself in a very small, tight-knit group. You wouldn’t call it a clique, just four people who hung out together all the time. Interestingly, two of us were introverts, and the other two were extroverts.

But while I took part in larger group activities, went to some parties, and even played team sports, I spent most of my high school years with these friends.

This sort of experience is really normal for people who find it difficult to get going in group situations later in life.


People who take their time to warm up in social situations probably had these seven experiences growing up. 

Some of them were because they already tended toward introversion, while others may have pushed them further toward this side of the social spectrum.

Either way, these are very common experiences for folks who like a good deal of time on their own.

Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.