The definition of an introvert being ‘a shy, reticent person’, what distinguishes this, from someone who just wants to slink away and enjoy their own company?
If you’ve been at a bustling party and found yourself wanting to run home, grab a takeaway and get under your own quilt, you might also carry the label of an introvert.
But how much does it apply to you?
Do you really belong to the shy and reticent crowd, amongst those who love introspection, or do you just want to be alone?
It’s easy to mistake solitude for introversion, but in truth, they’re not always the same thing.
And knowing where you fall is sometimes key to understanding your strengths and weaknesses better.
So let’s break this down and explore 9 telling signs that suggest you might not be an introvert after all – you might just prefer being alone.
1) You seek out solitude as a choice, not a necessity
Opting for a quiet night at home, with your cat and a bottle of wine on a bustling Friday night might seem like an introverted move.
But there’s a difference.
If you don’t actually mind being at the club or in the middle of a noisy bar, and you don’t find that social interaction drains you, you might just enjoy the peace of being alone.
Not in a Scrooge/Grinch like manner, mind.
Unlike introverts, your choice to be alone isn’t about recharging, being grouchy, or needing to escape from the hustle and bustle of social gatherings.
Instead, it’s about cherishing your own company and enjoying activities that you can do solo.
Whether it’s reading an engaging novel, immersing yourself in a movie marathon, or just lounging around doing absolutely nothing – these choices come from a place of preference rather than necessity.
2) You’re energized by social interactions
Don’t get me wrong – I love a good night with pals, or a rowdy night of drink. Catching up with friends, meeting new people, the hum of conversation and laughter, staying up and watching the sunrise. It makes me feel alive.
But, at the same time, I also very much enjoy my alone time.
So, where do I belong? To the book-loving introverts, or to the social butterflies?
I puzzled even myself, for a while. Wasn’t I supposed to be drained by social interactions if I loved solitude?
Turns out, it’s not all so crystal clear.
Unlike introverts, who might feel drained after spending time in social settings, I find that these interactions energize me. I enjoy engaging in conversations, sharing stories, and even being the center of attention from time to time.
However, just as much as I love socializing do I also look forward to retreating into my personal space, shutting everyone outside, and hanging out with me.
Not because I’m exhausted, but because I cherish that balance between social and solitary moments.
So, if like me, you feel invigorated by social interactions but also relish your alone time, you might not be an introvert, but someone who simply enjoys the best of both worlds.
3) You enjoy alone time, but don’t need it to recharge
I’ll admit, I’m a recharger, so probably fall more onto the introversion spectrum. Read more about what introvert life entails here.
Yet, I have friends who like hanging out alone, but never seem to need this valuable social-battery-recharging time, sequestered up alone.
Introverts usually need alone time to regain their energy after social interactions. It’s like their personal battery charging station where they power up and refuel on the ability to glide in and out of conversations without feeling exhausted.
Yet solitude lovers don’t seek out solitude because they’re drained from being around people. Instead, they seek it because it’s something they genuinely enjoy. Hence why it’s a choice, not a necessity.
So if you find yourself enjoying alone time not because you’re exhausted from the social buzz, but simply because you like it, then you might not be an introvert after all.
You might just prefer being alone, on occasion.
4) You’re comfortable expressing yourself
While introverts might struggle to vocalize their thoughts and feelings, preferring to mull over things internally, those who simply prefer being alone don’t always share this trait.
This isn’t to say that introverts can’t be expressive or articulate; it’s just that they often prefer to process things internally rather than verbalize them.
So, if you find yourself able to easily voice your thoughts and feelings, despite your love for solitude, you might not be an introvert. You likely don’t fear social interactions, but rather choose to hang out in your own company from time to time.
5) You value close connections
Solitude is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. The peace that comes with being alone, the freedom to do exactly what you want, when you want – it’s liberating.
But here’s the thing – despite the joy of solitude, there’s a distinct warmth that comes from deep, meaningful connections.
Introverts often have a small and tight-knit circle of close friends, but they might find it draining to maintain even these relationships (let alone exist at big social functions.)
However, for those who simply prefer being alone, nurturing these relationships with people closest to them isn’t exhausting, but rather quite rewarding and fulfilling.
They tend to nurture and protect those closest to them, namely those who also allow them this precious solitude without interruptions, as the people who let them live authentically.
6) You’re not shy… just selective
Shyness and introversion are often incorrectly interchanged. I know enough, having been called aloof/cold/intimidating plenty of times, when I wouldn’t say boo to a goose.
However, shyness and introversion are not always the same.
Introverts might prefer quiet environments due to their sensitivity to external stimulation, but those who simply prefer solitude may not share this trait.
You might enjoy your own company, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy or reluctant to interact with others. Instead, you might be more selective about who you spend your time with and how you spend it.
You’re comfortable interacting with others when you want to, and equally comfortable retreating into your own space when you choose to.
So, if you find yourself selectively choosing when and with whom to socialize, instead of avoiding social interaction altogether, then you might not be an introvert.
You might just be someone who values quality over quantity in social relationships – while also enjoying solitude.
7) You’re open to new experiences
While introverts often prefer familiar environments and routines and thrive in living the same day, everyday, those who simply enjoy their own company might not share this preference.
You might love your alone time, but this doesn’t mean you’re resistant to change or new experiences. In fact, you might find the idea of a spontaneous holiday to a far off land, or trying a new and unfamiliar hobby quite exciting.
This will be because your love for solitude doesn’t limit you to a routine or familiar environments; instead, it complements and fuels your adventurous spirit.
8) You appreciate both small talk and deep conversations
I’ve always been someone who can chit-chat about the weather just as easily as they can dive into a nitty gritty philosophical discussion.
Unlike introverts who often find small talk superficial or draining (please, not the weather discussion again!), I don’t mind it.
It’s a social lubricant, a way to pop off and break away the ice with new people, or filler for awkward silences.
Yet, I also enjoy deep, meaningful conversations just as much as listening to someone prattle on about a Netflix series they watched last night.
Talk to me about Love Island, then theorize your idea of what happens after death. In the same convo. (How dreamy!)
This dual ability to engage in both small talk and deep conversations, along with a preference for solitude, suggests that you might not be an introvert after all…
You might just be someone who enjoys alone time but can also glide through the spectrum of social interactions with just as much ease.
9) You’re comfortable in your own skin
The most crucial aspect to grasp is this – being comfortable with who you are is key.
Unlike introverts who might struggle with societal expectations and pressure to be more outgoing, those who simply prefer being alone often don’t face this internal conflict.
They don’t force themselves out to socialize when they don’t want to out of societal pressure, but instead wave everyone else goodbye so they can make the most out of this precious alone time.
If you’re at ease with your preference for solitude and don’t ever feel ashamed, then you know deep down that it’s not a sign of shyness or antisocial behavior.
Rather, it’s a personal choice that doesn’t detract from your ability to socialize or connect with others.
This comfort and acceptance of self, combined with your ability to engage meaningfully with the world around you, is perhaps the clearest sign that you’re not an introvert – you just prefer being alone.