Introverted people are special, unique, and deeply valuable. Unfortunately, in a world that demands extroversion, many introverts fail to recognize their own worth. They often push themselves to be more social than they are comfortable with and apologize for their true nature. This is not only detrimental to an introvert’s self-image, but can leave them feeling depleted and confused about who they are. Introversion needs to be embraced and celebrated, rather than discouraged.
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Here are five ways to nurture your inner introvert:
1. Learn to say no.
An introvert’s energy is drained with every social encounter, while an extrovert’s is strengthened. Don’t disregard your own needs for the sake of others. Set limits for your time, and respect them. Practice a phrase like “Oh, I would love to go to that concert, but I already have such a busy weekend planned. Maybe we can make it work another time.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with declining an invitation. There is something wrong with accepting one knowing it will leave you feeling empty and stressed out.
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2. Protect your downtime.
For an introvert, the need for downtime is not negotiable. End each day with a session of peace and quiet. Allow yourself to recharge your internal batteries without any sort of a guilt trip. Most humans need solitude in order to process their deepest and most complex thoughts. Doing this is not a waste of time. It is a completely necessary form of self-care. You wouldn’t stop eating, showering, or brushing your teeth due to social pressure, would you? Try to give your need for downtime the same respect.
3. Cultivate solo interests.
Ideally, you could find a job in which social contact is limited and mental stimulation is prioritized. This is the kind of environment in which an introverted nature will thrive. However, for many this is simply not an option. Instead, take up a hobby that you can do all by yourself. Long distance running, painting, writing, swimming, and fishing are all stellar options. Devote time to this activity, and revel in the peace and solitude that you find there. This will feed your inner introvert and restore your energy in the same way that a crowded dance floor would deplete it.
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4. Learn to leave gracefully.
Before going to a social event, plan a good excuse to leave early. You may not need to use it, but simply having the option available will make you feel much more at ease. If you do end up wanting to bow out, you will be prepared to do so with grace. The simple and boring excuses are usually the best – an early morning appointment, a babysitter with a curfew, or a backlog of work waiting at home. Chances are, nobody will even remember why you had to head home early. They’ll just be glad you came.
5. Accept your authentic self.
There is no need to apologize for being an introvert. Because extroversion is overvalued in our society, introverts are often made to feel like they are doing something wrong simply by being who they are. Embrace your need for solitude, and the thousands of strengths and advantages that come along with it. Introverts are absolutely crucial to the maintenance and advancement of our society. Can you imagine a world run completely by extroverts? It would be noisy and miserable, and society would soon devolve into absolute chaos.