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4 Ways Introverts Can Super-Charge Their Happiness

Introvert

“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.” ~Susan Cain

Do you get ticked off too?

I mean, when people say you’re awkward, naive, and anti-social.

Your feelings get bruised, and then you find yourself drowning in a sea of unhappiness.

All you want is to be normal. To be accepted and to fit in. The more social you try to be, the more uhappy you get.

You’ve worn all the right masks to be normal, but it seems all your efforts aren’t good enough.

Well, I know that feeling all too well, unfortunately.

How Trying to Fit in Made Me Unhappy for Years

I was six years old when I joined the school dance team because I wanted to be like my friends. Long hours of practice replaced my alone time. It was rough. But all I wanted was to fit in and belong.

I should have known public dancing wasn’t for me. I panicked during the audition, and all I wanted was to crawl under a chair. I stood frozen in fear the entire time.

And boy, that didn’t go to well. No matter what I said to appease the teacher, she yelled and banned me from the school dance team.

In college, I was embarrassed to tell my friends I would rather stay in than go out in loud and busy places.

So, I followed my friends for adventures. It was okay for a few hours, but then I would take frequent bathroom breaks for quiet moments and to hear my own thoughts.

I pushed too hard to hang out every weekend. By the end of the day, I felt like I had been in a marathon that I didn’t sign up for.

After college, I ached to belong and be accepted. I always said yes, even when I wanted to say no, just to please others.

A friend suggested we (including her nanny and child) rent a bigger house together and split the costs, which meant we would pay less than we were paying to live separately, and we’d enjoy living in a better neighborhood.

Soon after we moved in together, her siblings moved in and took over the house. I was miserable. The house was crowded and noisy. There was no space for solitude.

This invasion of space built lots of tension, so I moved out, and doing so ruined our relationship.

I tried to explain, but I was misunderstood. I was left confused that my friend didn’t understand my need for quiet space. All I wanted was to have a happy friend who understood me.

I stumbled upon personality types in my twenties and learned about the differences between introverts and extroverts. I finally realized nothing was wrong with me. I realized I was an introvert, and I learned that us introverts often feel isolated and misunderstood by society.

After I understood myself, I stopped working so hard to fit in and please people. I was finally content just being myself.

Knowing I was introverted empowered me to stand up for myself and overcome some of the roadblocks to my happiness. You can do this too.

1. Focus on your strengths.

Introverts tend to focus on their weaknesses, like not being good at small talk, and some beat themselves up trying to fix them.

They might desire to be more talkative and outgoing, so they promise themselves the next time they go out, they’ll strike up a conversation. Or they promise in the next office meeting to voice their opinion. But when the moment comes, they back out and feel disappointed with themselves.

I knew I was self-conscious when I danced, but I felt it was something I needed to fix. That’s why I kept signing up for dance teams, even while knowing that they’d just make me want to crawl under a chair.

Are you focusing on your weaknesses and sinking in the sea of unhappiness?

So what if you’re not the best at small talk? You have plenty of other positive qualities that you should be proud of—having a strong conscience, drawing energy from deep conversation, and being empathetic.

Take fifteen minutes to just think about all the qualities you like about yourself. Jot them down. You might realize you have more positive qualities than you give yourself credit for.

2. Socialize selectively.

Shy introverts want to fit in, so they push their limit by attending parties out of their comfort zone.

In college, my friends handled going out every weekend with ease. I followed my friends to parties I didn’t even care about, only to be left overwhelmed by all the noise and small talk.

I started suppressing the feelings and struggled to toughen up. Doing so left me swinging back and forth, from happy to unhappy.

Does that sound familiar?

Trust your feelings to guide you. Learn to stop and retreat when you feel over-stimulated.

You should only socialize in ways you feel comfortable with.

Maybe having a small group of friends over for dinner is better suited to you. Maybe you know a couple of quieter cafes that you like and can refuse invitations to places you dislike.

And maybe, if you do want to step out of your social comfort zone a bit, you should feel free doing so, but you should also feel free to go home when you feel over-stimulated.

3. Honor your quiet time.

Most introverts need their alone time. It makes them feel at ease and can help them catch their breath between social events. However, many introverts neglect this need.

I used to say yes to every request I got, such as school sports kiosk, fundraising events, and baby showers. I wanted to fit in and was afraid of missing out on what was happening, but that only exhausted me.

All that stopped when I understood I was wired differently and deserved to pamper myself with some quiet time.

Honor your quiet time, and consider it as an investment.

It’s okay to retreat for some nourishment and recharging. This sounds selfish, but it’s not. You cannot serve others well if you cannot care for yourself.

4. Seek out kindred spirits.

Most introverts have those friends who make them feel different and alone because not all understand the nature of introverts.

They might try to bring you into the conversation when you’re content just listening. They might try to “help” you be more social and talkative. Or they might constantly ask why you’re being so quiet.

I had such friends, and the more I tried to make them happy, the unhappier I got.

I finally rocked my own boat. I no longer bent over backward to fit in, and I just expected people to respect me for who I was. Some fell overboard, but those who really understood me stayed.

So, seek out support of kindred spirits who understand the uniqueness of each person.

And because they understand other personalities, they already know how to manage and treat others.

They will make you feel comfortable just being you around them. And you don’t have to try and fit in because they understand you and accept you for who you are.

Time To Feel Complete

Stop trying to fit in by changing your personality to match others because you’ll only make yourself unhappy.

Instead, try to find people who will accept you for the introverted spirit you are.

Remember, you’re not alone. Some historic figures such as Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs were introverts and happy too.

You can be happier too if you focus on your strengths and accept yourself for who you are instead of trying to fit into someone else’s mold.

Embrace your introversion.

And spread your happiness to the world.

Introvert image via Shutterstock

About Ann Davis

Ann Davis is on a mission to help you identify your life's purpose so that you can live the life you've always wanted. Download the FREE GUIDE NOW. Discover your true talent and make it profitable.

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  • Lynn Hauka

    Hi Ann,

    You make such an important point here – for introverts to learn and honor their needs, which are often very different from what popular culture advises. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  • Ann Davis

    Thank you Lynn for your comment. It took me years to honor those needs because I lived a life of trying to fit in…culture advises we try to fix the introversion.

  • Hey Ann,

    This is who I am and yes I got to the point of getting frustrated when people tried to change me. I’m probably considered an outgoing introvert which is an oxymoron. I like going out but I have to be in my own space. It’s weird to some but I don’t care because this is where I feel most balanced and it’s great to know there were famous people like MLK and Steve Jobs that were like me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Ann Davis

    Sherman, I go out too but I leave when I want.

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  • Nicki Lee

    I have fallen into this same trying-to-fit-in trap for most of my life. So nice to see someone who gets the need for alone time and selective socializing. Thanks, Ann!

  • Melissa Contreras

    Hi Ann. Great post. I especially resonated with your third point. I am an introvert who likes to socialize. That seems like a contradiction but I really like to meet people and learn about them because I believe that exposing yourself to different points of view helps you grow. However, those interactions usually drain a lot of energy for me and I then need to recover with a lot of quiet time by myself, where I do a lot of thinking and reflecting.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. 🙂

  • esdea

    Thank you for this post! You make me feel understood, I was really worried about not making friends in my school but I guess yes, I’ll just need people who understand my introversion.

  • Ann Davis

    Esdea, thank you for your comment. You’ll find that one or two friends who will understand you for who you are. I never had a bunch of friends in school either, a couple and I was content.

  • Ann Davis

    Melissa Contreras,thanks for your comment. You’re right about socializing because we all (introverts and extroverts) need each other to thrive. But being an introvert you select those extroverts who understand you and not those who want to change you to be like them.

  • Ann Davis

    Nicki, I sailed that boat too. Now I know!

  • qeurich

    HI Ann,

    There are so many ways that we learned to cope – and it was exhausting! Just thinking about it makes me want to go barricade myself in a room!

    Oh wait! I live alone and don’t have to do that any more! LOL!

    Great explanation of what it’s really like!

    Quinn

  • Ann Davis

    Qeurich,

    Thank you for stoping by. I know that feeling to well…learning to cope and keep up.

    I live with hubby and dogs and that makes this mama happy.I love it.
    Cheers,
    Ann

  • Almudena Nido

    Thank you for this. I’ve been struggling all my life with my own issues as I always felt inadequate for social life and always had people around me reminding me how awkward and shy and pushing me to be more ‘extrovert’ and ‘normal’. But everything was just too much (small talk, noise, lights) and the more and more I tried the more I felt rejected, disappointed and a failure at being ‘normal’ and having friends. And I saw disappointment in the people around me too and I felt disappointment with myself because I only wanted to FIT in. Now as an adult I’ve developed social anxiety and don’t want to socialise much and I still thought it was a problem, but now bigger!! so even through psychological therapy I’ve always expressed my discomfort at my own inability to socialise “more”, to be more “extrovert”. Now I see that it is not me the one with a problem to solve.I just need to accept myself and stop fighting against what it is. I’ve always been like this and hating myself, allowing others to hate me hasn’t helped it. Maybe accepting myself is the foundation I’ve been missing.

  • Jana

    Wow… I recognise so much in your story… So sorry to read you had such a hard time because you couldn’t accept yourself.. The positive thing I read in here, is that you now finally seem to start becoming aware of it.. It might take you a while but I read the willingness to learn to accept yourself and love yourself the way you are..
    I wish for you to find that, be patient with yourself.

  • Jana

    Thank you so much for this article. I can relate so much to it. It’s only recently, that I am starting to become aware of the fact that I’m an introvert, and trying to fit in, wanting to change myself, hating myself because “I am not like them”, and that that has messed me up quite a bit. Now slowly, I am trying to focus on learning to appreciate myself, and validating that I am an introvert and liking myself for that. I seem to be making some progress with it but I often fall into the same trap, dealing with extrovert people and then putting myself down because “why can’t I be like that?”. But we’ll get there. I have recently picked up my meditation practice again and find that so helpful, 2 hours per day for silence and stillness, that is a huge counteraction for all the forcing and pretending and exhausting myself…
    It is so relieving to read stories from people with similar experiences.

    I think your fourth point would be very helpful and healing for me, but it seems so hard to find similar people, because they all seem to hide away as well. Lately I have met somebody that seems to be very kindred, and only to be around that person makes such a calmth come over me, that is incredible. But we both seem to be so shy and withdrawn, that we don’t manage to make contact.

  • Ariane

    I really loved this article. You made me realize that there’s nothing wrong with me wanting to spend time alone and enjoying one-on-one activities with friends 🙂

  • Ann Davis

    Ariane, I’m glad you liked the article…enjoy your quiet time 🙂

  • Ann Davis

    Jana, I was in your shoes at one time and know the feeling of trying to fit in and pleasing people. I’m happy for the progress you’re making in being you…keep it up! Try to lead the conversations , like talk about yourself and then ask them “how about you?”…you’ll be surprised how far that will go.

  • Ann Davis

    Almudena, thank you for being open. There is nothing wrong with you, accept yourself as you are. Don’t allow others to put you down for being you. You can socialize in small doses, like attend a function and leave when you want.

  • Really enjoyed this article, thanks Ann! I especially love tip #2 & 3 – something I’ve been working on for quite a while and still learning!

  • Jesse Henri

    Great article. I have gone through a very similar experience. I believe Introverts have the power to further human understanding simply because we are very sensitive to the energies around us and how those energies effect everyone on a deeper level.

  • Love the article. Gosh my parents tried so hard to make ME fit in! Sports teams, drama classes, dance, you name it! I hated it and didn’t quite realise why until I was in my late teens. Nowadays I’m quite comfortable with small talk but I still find going out and socialising drains me of energy. Luckily my husband is the same so we have a good time pottering around home doing our separate activities to unwind 🙂

  • IBikeNYC

    I somehow knew and accepted this about myself while still in my teens.

    However, I’ve lost track of a lot of things about myself over the years and had forgotten not just how much of an introvert I am but also how profoundly that one trait influences everything I do.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  • Jeff

    … Steve Jobs was notoriously unhappy

  • Martin GB Edwards

    Great post Ann, I have spent most of my life working on getting the social interaction at parties/networking events thing right. I have never felt comfortable with walking into a room full of strangers and “working the room”. Its something which just has to be done though. I have always considered myself to be introverted but in recognising that and accepting that there is nothing wrong with that, I have found that so long as I don’t think too much about what I think everyone else thinks about me, I can actually enjoy it. You are so right about the need for quiet solitude. I think that is something everyone should embrace from time to time and respect that as a perfectly normal part of being human.

  • Ann Davis

    I think he was happy on the inside, hey, in my younger days I used to hear “smile”

  • Ann Davis

    I have formulated a way to socialize that leaves me happy and those around me happy.

  • Ann Davis

    Rebecca, I can relate to that…my husband is a plus extrovert and we get along well. He knows when its my alone time.

  • Ann Davis

    Jesse, you got that right. Thank you for the comment.

  • Ann Davis

    Yiye, thank you for commenting and glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Ann Davis

    Martin, I have no problem walking into a room full of people, my problem is what to say when everyone is on the small talk topic. I can be there and let them “work the room” then I’m good.

  • Ashley Trexler

    “Honor your quiet time!” Yes, yes, yes. Saying no is so hard, but so necessary. Great post for introverts!

  • Ann Davis

    Ashley, I still say yes to keep peace…though not often. Thank you for commenting!

  • Mark Tong

    Hey Anne great posts reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote – “be yourself, everyone else is taken”

  • Ann Davis

    Awesome Quote there, thanks Mark for your comment.

  • IBikeNYC

    LOVE that quote and had forgot about it; thanks for the reminder!

  • This was a great post Ann! As an introvert I’ve struggled a lot with being seen as aloof just because I’m an introvert. And I think before I speak. Learning to honor my quiet time has been really empowering….

  • Ilka Emig

    Hi Ann! I like how you explain that everyone has the right to leave a party when feeling overwhelmed, choose a quieter place for going out and has a right for privacy. I personally think the friend you shared a house with wasn’t fair and respectful. Even I tend more towards being extrovert I think everyone’s personality and way of happiness should be honored. Parties are great but sometimes you need to be alone and you need your quite time to think deeply and get things done. I am glad you live your true you and you are happy. Thanks so much for sharing, Ilka

  • Ann Davis

    IIka Emig, sometimes it takes a storm to know true friends. I love my quiet space and the freedom to say ‘yes” and “no”. Thank you for commenting.

  • Ann Davis

    Jessica, thank you for commenting. I think before I speak and sometimes people think I won’t give an answer only to have some start disrupting the conversation instead of waiting for my turn…I have to have some quiet time to function.

  • Marine

    this post resonated with me as well. I am never a sports person and i tried going out of my comfort zone to be ‘active’ and socialize. But, i never enjoyed it. Same with parties as well, i am currently in university and everyone around me seems to have lots of fun and lots of friends. But i much prefer be in my own room and have my quiet time rather than spending the night partying away and making small talks. That said, i did try and go out but i just dont enjoy it. What i am trying to say is that, i envy those people who can click and connect with other people so easily and have a great time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for me. My mom tells me to go out and make friends, but i was never vocal and tbh, quite selective with who i go out with. I always wonder if i have to change to meet more people which makes me hate myself more.
    Thank you for this timely reminder, although i feel like something is wrong with me for not having groups of friends.

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  • Purpledesi

    This post is so relatable! What is more difficult than saying no to invitations to busy places is actually ending up in such places and having to endure the looks and the persistent queries along the lines of “Why are you so quiet?”.
    It really reached a peak for me when I recently met an acquaintance for a drink with some friends and he was hell-bent on trying to figure me out “You just don’t care do you? You haven’t spoken a word since we got here. It’s like you don’t give a fuck. You’d rather be anywhere than here”, and he went on and on along the same thread and I was left so confused and frankly, angry, because I was actually having a good time being out with all my friends after a long time. I couldn’t say anything to him because I barely know the guy and he’s a friend of a friend. But I was really upset for a whole day after that 🙁

  • Xdien

    Hi Ann, is it normal that I don’t feel like talking or bonding with my roommates? I tried but I just come off awkward so I stopped trying… One of them is extremely loud most of the time and I can’t stand it, i want to move but I don’t have much options at the moment, *sigh, what I’m doing right now to cope is praying to God for my peace and quiet.

  • Sebastian

    I envy those people too. The worst thing is that sometimes I do get lonely and I wish I could just hang out with others and have fun. But I can’t. I’m literally not able to. And I know it because I tried many times.

    And believe me, the never-ending question “should I change and be like them or should I stay like I am?” goes through my mind very often too. 🙁

  • Ann Davis

    Hey, Sabastian! good to see you stopped by. I used to ask myself the same questions all the time, ” should I change and be like them “…I did try of course, but now I know better, I socialize, but always do it at my pace

  • Ann Davis

    Xdien, I feel your pain. College was rough for me too. With time, I mean when your out of college things will get better because you’ll have many options…like say-no. Hang in there!

  • Ann Davis

    Meghana22, that’s sad, has it gotten any better ? I’m in-charge of where I go and who I go out with.

  • Ann Davis

    Lynn Hauka, better late than never, glad to see you here.

  • Meghana22

    It’s better now. That situation was a group hang so I couldn’t really choose who would be there. But since then, I’ve been wary about the people I surround myself with. It’s become important for me now to to know exactly who is coming to every hang out. Helps ease my anxiety.

  • Carlton Burney

    Yeah I really just want to run from everyone. I’m off my message and dealing with ugly people (internal ugly external is…….. not even with discussing), I do things for people that they don’t even realize is equal to me risking my life. Just ungrateful hateful mean and nasty. I’m always the problem because in not like them. Sorry for venting in just exhausted. Unsafely exhausted, my fault I’ll fix it!

  • Pooja Raghav

    this post has reflected so many different points in my life that i have been through… bt i just wanted to know what we need to know when our own famliy pressurizes us to be the one , which we cannot be..!