Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing

Author Article

two introverts socializing
I like to make jokes about how much I hate people. As an introvert, it’s easy to do. The stereotype of the misanthropic introvert is backed by countless Facebook memes and pop culture references. Think of the animated character Daria with her oversized glasses and a book in her hand, or that catchy quote from Charles Bukowski, “I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they aren’t around.”These memes and quotes exist for a reason. They’re funny and relatable, and I’ve enjoyed sharing them just as much as anyone else. But there’s a darker side to them. They can also serve as a coping mechanism for those who need an excuse to hide behind. Let me explain.It’s the whole “I’m too school for cool” persona. It’s easy for me to say I spent the majority of the party playing with the host’s cat because the people there weren’t half as interesting as the books I have at home. It’s harder for me to admit that getting past the barrier of small talk ranges from somewhat daunting to downright terrifying. So I oversimplify and say I don’t like people, when what I actually dislike are the surface-level interactions of most social gatherings.We’ve all been to those parties where the sole purpose of the event is for everyone to break into small groups where they talk about sports, the weather, or where the host’s second cousin got her hair done. It’s moments like these where it suddenly becomes very important to find out if there’s a pet you can play with, or when all else fails, perhaps a large potted plant to hide behind. If there’s a drink to be fetched or a bowl of chips to be refilled, this task will instantly become the sole purpose of my existence, because literally anything is better than small talk.

However, despite appearances, I don’t hate people. I just hate shallow socializing.

And therein lies the problem that has kept thousands of introverts awake until all hours of the night. Because being an introvert doesn’t mean you want to be alone all the time. But unfortunately, in order to meet people to share your inner world with, it’s necessary to go out and socialize. In order to get to those coveted discussions about life goals, creative passions, and the existence of the universe, you sometimes have to start with some small talk — no matter how painful it might be.

Sometimes You Have to Go Out to Appreciate Staying In

As an introvert, I view socializing much like I view other aspects of my life that I know are good for me in the long run, but really aren’t very enjoyable in the moment. Do I really want to go to the gym when I could just go home and watch Netflix? No. Do I really want a salad for lunch when I could have a hamburger? No. Do I really want to go to a partywhen I could curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea? It’s a no-brainer.

However, to reap the rewards, you have to put in the work.

It’s all about balance. Just like I might treat myself to a piece of chocolate cake as a reward for all those days at the gym last week, I’ll spend a quiet Saturday night at home because I know I already put in a night of socializing and interacting with people outside of my comfort zone on Friday.

The reward of staying in is so much sweeter when it’s saved as its own unique event to look forward to — whereas staying home with a book feels a whole lot less special when you’re doing it for the tenth night in a row. Sometimes you have to go out to fully appreciate staying in, and vice versa.

I never would’ve met some of my closest friends if I chose to stay home and read all the time. Those relationships I have now were worth the anxiety and apprehension I felt upon venturing out of my comfort zone to establish them.

Unfortunately, finding those kinds of relationships is rare, because socializing doesn’t always have tangible rewards. Sometimes I leave an event feeling drained and wishing I’d never left the house. Other times, I might feel that it went okay, but I know the surface-level conversations I held all evening probably won’t lead to any life-altering friendships. But that’s okay, because not every conversation or evening out has to be life-altering.

For the Introvert, Socializing Isn’t Just a Way to Pass the Time

As an introvert, it’s my natural tendency to always want every interaction to be about establishing a life-long deep connection, but I’ve learned that can put too much pressure on the average casual conversation. Sometimes it’s just about staying in practice with my (albeit limited) people skills until the day when someone suddenly wants to talk about their dreams and goals and all the things that makes them tick. It’s impossible to know where a conversation will lead unless you try.

I’m aware of just how ridiculous my socializing philosophy will sound to extroverts. To them, socializing itself is the end goal. My extroverted friends are always looking for something to do on the weekend, during the holidays, and even on work nights. They pursue socializing for the in-the-moment excitement that it brings. For me, attempting to socialize is a long-term goal, one that I carefully craft and balance so I don’t get mentally or emotionally overwhelmed.

“Going out” is rarely exciting for me in the moment. But I always have hope when attending a party or trying a new networking event that I’ll make a friend who is also dying for a quiet cup of coffee while chatting about life, or who wants to take a trip to the beach just so we can lay side by side and read in complete silence.


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When I socialize, I’m not looking for a way just to pass the time. I already have a full list of hobbies and interests and not enough hours in the day to enjoy them all. But I’m always looking for a new person with whom I can share my passions and my world. Sometimes meeting that one new person can be worth the agony of socializing. I like to think I’m the kind of person worth socializing for, and I know I’m not the only one of my kind.

So, my fellow introverts, please occasionally put down your books, go out, and search for the people who make socializing worth it — because I’m out there looking for you.

A Counselor Explains How Introverts Can Banish Social Anxiety

Author Article

A young introvert suffers from social anxiety.
I’m a counselor, and many of the introverts I see come to me because of anxiety. Some of the clients I see have diagnosable anxiety disorders, but those who don’t aren’t suffering any less. When I say anxiety, I mean “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure,” according to the American Psychological Association.Anxiety can come in many forms and have many different causes, but in this article, I’d like to focus on social anxiety. Let’s take a look at the major signs of social anxiety, plus how you can free yourself from it by fixing “thinking errors.”

Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder

According to the American Psychiatric Association, you might have social anxiety if you experience the following:

  1. Feeling anxious or afraid in social settings. You might feel extremely self-conscious, like others are judging or scrutinizing your every move. For an adult, this might happen on a first date or a job interview, or when meeting someone for the first time, delivering an oral presentation, or speaking in a class or meeting. In children, these behaviors must occur in settings with peers — rather than adult interactions — and will be expressed in terms of age appropriate distress, such as cringing, crying, or just generally displaying obvious fear or discomfort.
  2. Worrying quite a bit that you’ll reveal your anxiety and be rejected by others
  3. Consistently feeling distressed during social interactions
  4. Painfully or reluctantly enduring social interaction — or avoiding it altogether
  5. Experiencing fear or anxiety that’s disproportionate to the actual situation
  6. Having fear, anxiety, or other distress around social situations that persist for six months or longer
  7. Finding that your personal life, relationships, or career are negatively affected. In other words, your anxiety makes it quite difficult for you to function in day-to-day life.

For a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder, these symptoms must be present for six months or longer and not be better explained by another mental health or medical diagnosis.

Why Is Social Anxiety Common in Introverts?

If you’re an introvert who experiences social anxiety, you’re not alone. The research shows that introverts are far more likely to suffer from it than extroverts. A small study done in 2011 found that “social phobia patients” were significantly more often introverts (93.7 percent) than not (46.2 percent). Although not all introverts suffer from social anxiety, this study suggests that us “quiet ones,” by nature, may be prone to it in one form or another.

Social anxiety can be excruciating. Introverts, in my practice, struggle with it because they tend to overthink and overanalyze situations. They may find themselves caught in a cycle of planning out a conversation only to have it go differently than their script. This puts them on the spot — an introvert’s nightmare — and creates a high level of anxiety.

They then may fall into the trap of mind-reading. Mind-reading is what some therapies, like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, call “thinking errors.” These patterns of thinking can be helpful in some situations, but when overused, can actually be quite harmful.

Many introverts (especially highly sensitive introverts) are particularly vulnerable to the “error” of mind-reading because they’re so good at attuning to others’ body language, emotions, and energy that it feels like they always know what someone else is thinking — even though they don’t actually possess telepathy.

When a conversation goes off-script and anxiety is heightened, introverts may assume others are thinking critically of them and take this assumption as fact. The thoughts of “now he thinks I’m an idiot” — though most likely false — create even more anxiety. It’s a vicious and debilitating cycle.

But you can banish social anxiety. Let’s take a look at the power of identifying and correcting thinking errors.

The Power of Fixing Thinking Errors

Let’s take an example from my practice. One young woman who came to me had a hard time making new friends. This girl was more mature than her cohort and seemed to be having trouble initiating conversation. As we talked, it came to light that her introverted trait of thinking before speaking had spiraled out of control. She’d rehearse for hours what she was going to say to a certain person, then be caught off guard when the conversation didn’t go as scripted. She then feared that people thought she was stupid or awkward (she was mind-reading) and became highly anxious.

After a conversation like this, she’d ruminate over what she should have said for days or weeks. Obviously, this left her too anxious to start any new conversations with anyone, which lead to a cycle of reinforcing her anxiety about social situations and her avoidance of them.

What did we do about it? The first step was education; we discussed both overthinking and mind-reading and how they relate to her introverted nature. She discovered that her tendency to overthink was very helpful in situations where she needed to analyze information and come to a conclusion, like schoolwork, but that with friends and family, it was creating a barrier to close relationships.

She was also able to see that while she is very attuned to others’ emotional states, she isn’t telepathic and can’t actually read others’ minds.

This education into the thought patterns that were feeding her anxiety gave her some valuable insights. For instance, she realized that the thoughts of “stupid” weren’t what she feared others would think of her, but what she thought of herself. Once we hit on this critical insight, she began to understand that her overthinking and mind-reading were actually ways to distract her from the mean things she was saying to herself.

It took quite a few sessions to help this girl become more self-compassionate and to lessen her overthinking. However, by the end of the school year, she was able to not only talk to new people, but to tackle intense, conflict-laden conversations she’d always avoided before.

Anxiety Doesn’t Have to Rule Your Life

This example gives us some valuable insight into how the introvert’s natural penchant for deep thinking and attunement to others can sometimes lead to harmful inner states. It also gives us a road map to moving forward and feeling better.

If you’re an introvert who suffers from social anxiety, the first step is to do what you do best: look inside and bring awareness to the thought patterns that are no longer helping you. Some of the best ways to do this are mindfulness, yoga, and journaling. Mindfulness trains the mind to be non-judging and discerning of thoughts and feelings; yoga helps relieve stress and is a moving meditation; and journaling brings up the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and beliefs we aren’t aware of in daily life that may be holding us back.

Ask yourself if there are thinking errors that are contributing to your anxiety. Are you like the girl I described above? The next time you notice yourself committing a thinking error, don’t judge or beat yourself up for it. Instead, simply notice it — there’s power in this alone! You might go a step further and intentionally replace your thinking error with a positive thought (even if you aren’t totally feeling it yourself at the moment). Try something like, “even though I’m scared, it’s going to be okay” or “I’m a likable person, and people enjoy being around me.”

Here are some more tips to help you mindfully control anxiety, and here’s a great explanation of mindfulness for introverts.

Your social anxiety won’t disappear overnight. But by stepping into mindfulness and identifying/correcting thinking errors, you can stop it from ruling your life.

INFJ: “16 Signs You’re an INFJ, the World’s Rarest Personality Type” ~ Introvert Dear https://introvertdear.com/news/infj-signs/

via INFJ: “16 Signs You’re an INFJ,  the World’s Rarest Personality Type” — Elusively INFJ

When it comes to relationships, we’re all in or all out. If it’s a fling you’re looking for, don’t waste your time. We tend to steer clear of anything casual, as we are more interested in something long-term.

via 12 Things You Should Absolutely Know About The INFJ In Your Life — Thought Catalog

How An INFJ Travels

Author Article

an INFJ makes travel plans
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Myers-Briggs personality types (as many of my close friends and coworkers can tell you!). The MBTI, a personality inventory based on the work of C. G. Jung, is not a perfect system, and of course, a test will never be able to completely define who you are. Nevertheless, it’s been an immensely helpful tool in understanding myself better.I’m an INFJ, the rarest of the 16 personality types. This sensitive and emotional introverted personality makes up only 1-2 percent of the population and is described by 16 Personalities as “quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealists.” Those who know me well would dispute the “quiet” part, but for the most part, reading descriptions of the INFJ was scarily accurate. It felt like someone was reaching into my brain and explaining my thoughts, mindset, and struggles more eloquently than I have ever been able to do.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

INFJs are known as both dreamers and doers, the ones who think big and also follow through on their dreams and goals. For me, that big goal is traveling to 100 countries before age 100 and helping other young professionals travel better and cheaper through my blog MeWantTravel. Based on my personal experience and my research about INFJs, here’s a glimpse into how this personality type travels.

How an INFJ Travels

1. Despite being “extroverted” introverts, we will still need alone time.

For the introvert, alone time is absolutely necessary. If you’re traveling with extroverts, they may not understand why you need to disappear into your room and recharge after a busy day of sightseeing, but I’m here to tell you that it’s perfectly okay to ask for that time. After you recharge, you’ll essentially be a better you. So tell your extroverted friends that they will like you more for it!

2. Deep, meaningful conversations are key.

INFJs crave meaning in all that they do, and relationships are no exception. Conversations of substance — not just small talk — are very important to us, and we may find that speaking to locals is both eye-opening and crucial to truly experiencing a new place. For me, the more I travel, the more I realize that people everywhere are the same at their core. Though we may look different and speak different languages, we all have fears, dreams, and people we deeply cherish. We can choose to find common ground and stand together, or we can choose to be divided and separated by our differences. As INFJs, we will always be in favor of — and push for — the first option.

3. We may want to write about our travels.

INFJs are highly creative, especially when it comes to working with words. And when we travel, we often want to somehow creatively capture what we’re experiencing, whether it’s through the written word, art, or something else. This helps us reflect on our experiences, and as INFJs, we love optimizing, learning, and personal growth. In terms of journals, I personally love ones that are small and easy to carry around in your backpack or purse, so I can jot down notes or ideas as they strike me. And who knows, when you write down those personal recollections or draw that stunning view, it may just be the beginning of your memoir.

4. Whenever possible, we aim for the “local” experience.

This may mean dining at local hidden gems and skipping some of the “must see” tourist traps. It may also mean staying in Airbnbs or hostels as opposed to hotels because it gives us an opportunity to learn about the culture by staying with a local, and it gives us a guaranteed chance to meet other folks. A paradox of the INFJ is that we’re genuinely interested in (and fascinated by) other people — so much that we’re mistaken for extroverts. But we truly are introverts who need that precious downtime. Having a private room in a hostel or Airbnb home is the perfect way to get the best of both worlds.

5. Being “judgers,” planning is a must.

As a “judging” personality, we INFJs like to know what we’re doing in advance and where we’re sleeping, and we may or may not have a pre-researched list of all the places we want to go, eat, and explore (okay, we probably will have that list!). There’s little that stresses out an INFJ more than having to make rapid-fire decisions on the fly. Meanwhile, “perceiving” personalities, like the INFP or ISTP, feel more comfortable going with the flow and being spontaneous. For them, it might even be fun to roll into a new city with no solid plans and discover what they’ll do and where they’ll stay as it strikes them.


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6. Use your “chameleon” abilities to your advantage.

INFJs are chameleons who can adapt to pretty much any social situation, because we’re tuned into social norms and expectations, and we read others well. This can be draining, however, because it means you’re constantly assessing and reassessing the room. This radar is part of who we INFJs are, and it’s not something we can easily turn off. But one thing I’ve learned the hard way is not to sacrifice social harmony at the expense of myself!

INFJ, take care of yourself; know that even though people may misunderstand you, this doesn’t make your feelings or thoughts invalid. Continue to be the INFJ boss that you are and take pride in your uniqueness — and then go out there and experience all those exotic places you’ve been dreaming about!