Introversion is like wearing a warm blanket around your shoulders on a chilly morning — it can be hard to take it off and face the harsh, cold world of social interaction. Cancelling big social plans, showing up late and avoiding phone calls are the bread and butter of an introvert looking to conserve their energy and avoid social burnout. But when does introversion start to take a turn for the worst and become sheer rudeness? Here’s how you know you’re just being a social hermit — and not a social faux pas.
Introverts don’t play the blame game. Introverts lose energy socializing — and they can sometimes require a lot of recovery time before they’re ready to hang out again. There’s nothing rude about taking time for yourself to recuperate — but when you start to resent other people for making you need that time, you’re veering hard into rude AF territory. Other people aren’t vampires out to drain you of your life force using the dark power of small talk. If you see them as such, it’s time to put your holy water and wooden stakes, Van Helsing — you’re making the extroverts uncomfortable.
Introverts don’t deliberately blow off responsibilities. Real talk: when you hate the uncomfortable atmosphere of outings with sort-of acquaintances and you can’t chit-chat to save your life, it’s beyond tempting to skip out on the company Christmas shindig or your BFF’s bachelorette party. Socializing can be so overwhelming, even extroverts have to take a break from the event circuit now and then. But if you’re consistently excusing yourself from social propriety and missing out on moments that are important to the people you love as a result, your introversion isn’t just a natural inclination anymore — you’ve turned it into a crutch.
Introverts aren’t seeking attention. No matter where you fall on the social preference scale, we all love bitching about our problems from time to time. But if you’re spending more time talking about how hard it is to be an introvert — and how much you wish you had more alone time — than you’re actually spending alone, recharging, then it’s time to face the music: introversion is not a disease, but you’re playing the victim and looking for sympathy anyway.
Introverts make the effort. Whether it’s showing up on time or just showing up at all, your friends probably already know and understand that it’s hard for you to emerge from your inner sanctum and put your socializing pants on. It’s not about making a flawless metamorphosis into a social butterfly every time you’re called to; it’s about valuing your friends and relationships enough to give your best shot at poking your head out of your cocoon.
Introverts don’t get passive-aggressive. Especially if your friends are bombastic extroverts or savvy ambiverts, it can sometimes feel like your needs are forgotten when they drag you to a big informal get-together or a sweaty club. But if you find yourself sighing forlornly, rolling your eyes or leaning on sarcasm — “Oh, wow, another house party? We’ve never gone to one of those before—” then you’re not doing any favors to anyone. Assertive introverts are a delight — they keep their friend groups grounded and help plan comfortable activities that everyone can enjoy.
Introverts are mindful of the time others put into them. When you couldn’t even carry a conversation if someone gave you a bucket, it’s important to realize how much energy your close friends have actually had to put into getting you out of your shell, and how much of an effort they must have to make in order to maintain your friendship. When your extroverted friends choose to spend a quiet night in with you, they’ve probably had to turn down bigger social engagements to do so — kind of like when you give up your Friday evening Netflix and chill with yourself to go out with them.
Introverts learn how to fake it when it’s important. Sometimes, dealing with people can be an integral part of your job description, and your BFF won’t take too kindly to you sending out negative vibes while you mope in the corner on her birthday. If your introversion is stealing the spotlight on someone else’s special day or giving your workplace a bad name, it’s time to buck up and put on your best happy face — or else you’re just being straight-up rude.
Introverts don’t feel entitled to special treatment. Your friends and family know you better than anyone — which means they’re fully aware that throwing you a big, wild party won’t make for a good time on your end, and springing last-minute plans on you would be the social equivalent of a surprise root canal. But like it or not, the world at large doesn’t care that you hate awkward interactions with strangers or that having all eyes on you makes your palms sweat. Being polite as an introvert means understanding that the world isn’t going to make any exceptions for you — and that you’re no more entitled to them than anyone else.
Introverts still return phone calls and messages… eventually. Introverts can read a text and go days without responding (all the while stressing about how they’re going to reply, to boot). But when those days become weeks and those weeks become never, people begin to get the sense that you’re not just busy — you’re straight-up ignoring them. Ghosting family and friends? Truly rude AF.
Introverts work to function within their introversion. Being polite in the digital age has opened up a whole new can of social worms for the chronic introvert — we didn’t grow up with etiquette classes on Skype interviews, Facebook conversations, or whether or not we need to reply to direct messages from randos on Twitter. Add to that the difficulties introverts face at work, at home and with friends and it can feel like the whole world is kind of against you at times. But the most polite thing an introvert can do in an aggressively draining environment is just to try their best. The universe might not be forgiving of your anti-social tendencies, but the people who love you will be — and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
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