7 unique struggles only introverts will understand

In a world that typically values extroversion, it can be really hard to be an introvert. You face unique struggles that can make it difficult to integrate yourself into society well.

Your skills are underestimated. Your needs are not accommodated. Your traits are misunderstood. (And you’re pressured to attend that stupid party every so often.)

We introverts face a lot of challenges. Here are 7 unique struggles only introverts will understand.

1) You want connection — but also want to be by yourself

Being an introvert can often result in a lot of cognitive dissonance. 

As reserved as introverts may be, we’re still human beings at the end of the day. Social connection is still a human need.

So, on one hand, you crave deep connections with people you vibe with and care about. Yet, on the other hand, you also just want to be alone most of the time.

After all, introverts prioritize their independence highly. Relationships aren’t worth it just for the sake of them, especially if they’re superficial. These kinds of surface-level relationships are just exhausting to maintain while not being beneficial in any way.

Introverts only want to be in relationships that are truly deep and intimate. When we want to spend our time with other people, we want that time to be fulfilling and emotionally safe.

2) You sometimes hope that plans get canceled

And because you’re sometimes unsure if you want to spend time with other people, you can sometimes find yourself about to go to something that…well, you don’t exactly want to go to.

Maybe you’re afraid of disappointing people with your absence, so you force yourself to go. Or maybe you wanted to go initially, but your mood just drastically changed. Or maybe you “wanted to put yourself out there” but realized that it’s not really worth it.

For whatever reason, you find yourself hoping that plans get canceled! You pray that the weather is bad or that other urgent things come up in other people’s schedules. The whole thing can be quite anxiety-inducing!

While it can be a bummer to other people, canceled plans can be a relief.

3) You get strange looks when you’re out alone

Have you ever had people stare at you for eating alone at a restaurant?

Ugh. I know I have.

While extroverts may find it daunting to go out alone, it’s part and parcel of the introvert life. As said above, being alone is far better than being with someone you don’t really want to be with.

However, being alone doesn’t necessarily mean we’re lonely. Sometimes, we just want to enjoy the experience of doing things in peaceful solitude. It serves as our reprieve and allows us to be with our thoughts.

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this. They look at you with weird, confused looks (ruining the mood for us) or approach us thinking that we want company.

4) People misunderstand you

pic1741 7 unique struggles only introverts will understand

I am—or at least, I would like to think—that I am a warm and kind person. And I’d like to think that most of you reading this probably are, too!

Unfortunately, many people’s first impressions of me end up with them thinking that I’m:

  • Rude;
  • Snobbish;
  • Aloof;
  • Condescending;
  • Stuck-up.

But I promise I’m not! I’m often just shy or would prefer to keep to myself most of the time. 

I don’t join in on other people, not because I think that I’m above them or whatever they’re doing. My social tendencies are just naturally more reclusive.

Most of the time, I just want to watch other people dance and enjoy the party’s ambiance rather than be in the middle of the dance floor.

And often, friends think that I’m not listening or interested in what they’re saying. I am! And I do care! Sometimes, I just have no idea how to respond.

5) People underestimate you

The horn effect—which is essentially the reverse of the horn effect—is unfortunately quite true when it comes to being an introvert.

The horn effect states that when people see one negative trait about you, they are quick to assume that you have other negative traits.

As mentioned above, people often misconstrue introverted behavior as being rude or snobbish. Or even socially inept. Then, because of the horn effect, they will assume that they are incompetent in other areas.

Just because introverts don’t speak often doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything valuable to say or contribute. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had the experience of being talked over during meetings.

The worst part is that experiences like those can have a negative impact on your self-esteem, causing you to become insecure in your own abilities! It’s a vicious snowball effect.

6) People tell you to “get out of your shell.”

Or they use other phrases like:

  • “Live a little”
  • “Get out of your comfort zone.”
  • “Experience more from life.”
  • “Broaden your horizons.”

It’s often well-intentioned but comes from a place of misunderstanding. It also feels quite condescending. They simplistically think that we are just insecure about ourselves.

They think we’re not experiencing the most out of life by not being more spontaneous or because we’re not “stepping out of our comfort zones.”

Now, to be fair, there are definitely some introverts who lack self-esteem (maybe it’s also because the world doesn’t cater to us, huh?). And for those people, maybe that advice can apply—to some extent.

At the same time, however, many mature introverts do, in fact, get out of their shell fairly regularly. They do go out and experience new things. They do go out and socialize.

But we just do so relatively more seldomly than our extrovert counterparts. And that’s okay!

7) You struggle to work in group settings

You dreaded working in a group in school. And now it’s even worse when doing it at work, where there’s more at stake, and there’s more pressure!

Unfortunately, in many workspaces, working with other people is unavoidable. Working on projects as a group can be incredibly difficult for an introvert.

Not only are they forced to interact with others often, making work even more draining for them, but their sense of independence is also heavily compromised.

It’s not that they think they’re better than their colleagues; introverts just generally want to do things their way most of the time.

The bottom line

In a world built by and for extroverts, introverts are often cast aside. Fortunately, the more we talk about it, the more accommodating people are now becoming. 

Things like working from home, for example, are becoming increasingly more common. And I don’t know about you, but more and more of my friends are not taking it personally when I say no to an invitation to hang out.

I’ve also noticed that popular discourse about introversion is evolving. No longer are people misguidedly equating shyness and insecurity with being an introvert!

So, if you’re an introvert, don’t despair! While challenges still abound, we also have valuable strengths that can be of great use as we all strive for a better, more inclusive society.




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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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