This was submitted by a 23 year old illustration student from the UK. She’s an introvert and she has great social skills, but sometimes others have drawn the conclusion that since she’s fun to be with, she must like to socialize all the time. Once she started really feeling the strain and had to slow the socializing down, a lot of the people around her seem offended!
Up to leaving Sixth Form College at 18 I was a perfectly happy introvert. I fully accepted, and so did all my college friends, that outside of college I preferred to be alone (and that to try and drag me out of my house after college was impossible). I had quite a lot of friends back then, because college was a controlled environment. There were set times for socialising and I knew exactly when I could get the relief of a quiet classroom where I didn’t have to chat to anyone. Greetings and departings were never awkward because they were part of the routine. I never felt guilt for not seeing anyone for a while, because I saw everyone at the same times each week.
I have always been great in controlled social situations. I find myself to be the one making everyone laugh, always got something stimulating to add to the conversation and it never took more than a minute to cheer anyone up. I later found these qualities confused me into thinking I was more sociable than I actually am.
As I moved to a different city to go to University my happily introverted bubble popped. The structure of school and sixth form had all but gone and I found it harder and harder to enjoy peoples company during the long breaks between lectures. I tried and failed to make connections with people. I tried being sociable in my spare time, but I was never happy. I couldn’t put my finger on why.
Everything escalated over five years until I finally decided I couldn’t take so much socialising (not that I was doing much of it). I didn’t like hanging out at friend’s houses or having them at mine. I didn’t like going drinking/clubbing/pubbing. It all made me want to run away and hide from the world. It felt like I was faking extroversion. Pretending to be someone I’m not. So I stopped.
But now I’m left feeling horrendously guilty and unwelcome. Sometimes I ask a friend if they fancy a coffee, and once at the coffee shop all I get is “why don’t you come out any more?” “Why haven’t I seen you in ages, doing something interesting were you?!” I’ve tried being honest. I tell them that the things they invite me to really aren’t my bag. But that is never good enough for them! All I get is abuse. Like I’ve betrayed them… Or I’m lying.
Now I’m scared to ask any friends at all if they fancy coffee. And I’m feeling lonely. I have the most wonderful boyfriend ever, who is also an introvert. He seems to be the only supportive person on the issue. He tells me its ok be who I am, and not to feel bad because I don’t please these people. But I still feel lonely and guilty.
Photo credit: legends2k