People tend to think that being an introvert means you’re shy, kind of a loner—and dare we say it—a bit of a bore.
I can just imagine the late Queen Elizabeth II spitting out her tea at the absurdity of the above notions.
It’s easy to think of the late monarch as having an extroverted personality given the revolving door of public engagements she attended during her 70-year reign.
On the contrary, her royal highness was interestingly introverted.
The Queen was immensely private—and not just because royal protocol required it. I wrote a commemorative story on the late Queen last year and a number of royal experts I spoke to said it was always difficult to get insight on the Queen because of how intensely private she was compared to other royals.
The Queen was far from shy: sources have said in the past that she was especially charming and a lot of fun—known particularly for her quick wit and dry sense of humor.
Even though you might be an engaging conversationalist and something of a social butterfly, you may still actually be an introvert.
So how do you know if you’re an introvert in an extroverted disguise?
Here are ten telltale signs that might decode your true introspective nature.
1) If you’re outgoing but also like your alone time, you could be an extroverted introvert
People have a tendency to group their personalities into one or two categories, says Colin Baker from business and wealth platform, Leaders.
“Either they’re an extrovert or an introvert. However those personality types aren’t so clear-cut,” he says. “Some extroverts might enjoy spending time alone, while some introverts might like going to parties.”
Baker says you’re not alone if you feel like you don’t fit into the stereotypical “introvert” trope.
“If you feel like you don’t fit into a single category, you might actually be an extroverted introvert, which many people associate with being an ambivert,” he adds. “It all depends on the balance—as ambiverts are balanced in their qualities of introversion and extroversion.”
2) You can feel a bit awkward at social gatherings at first
Even though you may see yourself as an extrovert because you’ve never met a dinner party you didn’t like, you have to admit that at first things can be a little awkward.
You may not be the most gifted of icebreakers, for example, or you don’t like being the first or last to arrive because the attention will be on you.
I know it takes me a bit to get comfortable when I’m at a social gathering (a glass of wine certainly helps with this!), but once I’m warmed up, I’m ready to be “on” for the rest of the evening.
3) Although you tend to be more of a listener than a talker, you have no problem speaking up
I’d say I fall into this introverted category. I’m more apt to be the listener in a conversation and only contribute when I have something meaningful or interesting to say.
Being introverted doesn’t mean that you don’t like to talk, it just means that you’re picky and choosy about how you participate.
I could be biased, but I happen to think that introverts can make the most engaging of conversationalists: they think about what they’re going to say before they say it so discussions with them tend to go deeper and can be more meaningful and insightful.
“During a conversation, you like to listen to what the other person is saying [and] you take the time to understand others,” affirms Baker. “At the same time, you’re fully prepared to keep the conversation flowing when necessary.”
4) You go low key when the topic of conversation isn’t your cup of tea
I admire that many extroverts can talk about almost anything—even when they don’t know much about the topic of conversation.
It’s not that they’re arrogant and want the attention to be on them (although I have to admit that I have met a few of those)—it’s usually because they have a lot of questions about what they don’t know.
I only get animated in a discussion when it’s about something I know a lot about, or have a unique experience relating to it. My mother, on the other hand (who happens to be a certified extrovert), can talk about anything and everything, even when she has absolutely no interest in what is being talked about!
Introverts love long, deep discussions but tend to shy away from small talk. They also do better socially in smaller groups than bigger parties.
5) You have an ulterior motive when it comes to high traffic events
Contrary to popular belief, introverts do like attending events where there are lots and lots of people.
It’s with good reason: huge gatherings like concerts and sports games are places where you don’t have to worry about conversation much at all. The emphasis is on the band or the game and not on them.
They get to have a great time and don’t have to worry about too much small talk and interaction. It’s win-win.
6) You like attention—but more so for your accomplishments rather than your looks or personality
It’s a misconception that introverts are averse to attention. They just feel like they need to be able to deserve the recognition, that’s all.
Introverts are certainly humble at heart, but even they like to feel special—especially when the accolades are about something they’ve worked hard for.
The attention also gives them a chance to talk about their achievements—not to brag by any means—but to talk about something they’re so passionate about.
7) You’re a social butterfly—but not a spontaneous one
Like I’ve mentioned above, socializing is one of my all-time favorite things to do—as long as I’m prepared.
I like to feel like my best self: this includes having my hair colored and set, a nice outfit planned ahead of time, and maybe even my nails done if I can work it in.
But I definitely don’t like being thrown into a social setting unprepared.
I’m working on being more flexible and going with the flow (I actually don’t mind a spur-of-the-moment coffee with a friend who I don’t mind seeing me as natural and bare-faced), but I’ll take being prepared over a “come-as-you-are” look any day.
Looking and feeling my best gives a boost to my mood and helps me get into my “social zone.”
Being prepared can also mean knowing ahead of time who is going to be there. Having this information can help you think of topics you know a particular group will like.
Maybe you heard that one of the guests went to Greece recently. So you mentally prepare an anecdote in your head about your own trip to Greece a few years ago. Or if you haven’t been but want to go, you mentally prepare questions to ask.
It’s true that introverts like to be prepared for everything.
8) You’re loyal to a select few
It’s probably true that extroverts have all kinds of friends and acquaintances, but introverts are inclined to have a small circle or close friends and family who they completely trust.
More friends tends to equal more social invitations, and introverts like to be selective with who they keep company with.
But the few people that they are loyal to are lucky because introverts are often there when they’re needed.
9) You can be the center of attention amongst your close-knit group but are unsettled around those you don’t know
Speaking of small groups, introverts don’t mind being the center of their tribe. They’ll be the most sparkling of conversationalists, quick with the jokes, and at-the-ready with personal anecdotes.
But put a stranger or two in the group, and this can throw an introvert off track. Their sense of balance will be disturbed and they’ll suddenly feel self-conscious at seeing a new face. They might even withdraw to the background and offer little in the way of comradery and conversation.
They don’t mean to be suddenly stand-offish, they just feel off-kilter with people they don’t know (or don’t know well) and haven’t had a chance to size up.
10) You take your sweet time responding to texts
While introverts actually prefer texting to talking on the phone, they’re not quick to reply to the texts of even those they’re close to sometimes.
They don’t like to stop what they’re doing to reply to a text for one thing. Secondly, sometimes they like to think long and hard about what they’re going to say.
They may also want to check in with themselves about accepting that social invitation instead of making a top-of-their-head commitment.
Introverts also have times of the day when they like to have alone time so they’re not apt to respond until they’re in the mood.