I should wear a disclaimer with every social interaction.
Seriously, as many issues as I have with technology taking over social interactions everywhere…it is an introvert’s best weapon in an uncomfortable social situation. But I digress…
My family relocated to a new area last April. In nearly every way, this place feels like home. I’m only reminded of my “newness” when I have to attend events at the school or when I realize I haven’t talked to an actual adult besides my husband for weeks. (Texting does not count as a real social interaction.) My kids were recently recognized along with others in their class for outstanding academic achievement. The amount of kids at the school required these ceremonies to be broken down by grade level. I tried to get out of going. (I know, mom of the year right?!) I knew how socially awkward I would feel. But, I put the desires of my kids ahead of my own desire to stay home and hibernate in my office.
I walked into the gym and quickly glanced around. I saw a familiar face and waved hi, then immediately put my head down and headed up the bleachers to sit alone. I didn’t really know this woman enough to plop myself down near her and insert myself into the conversation. I assumed she’d think it was weird if I sat down with her, too. Why? Because as a socially awkward introvert thrust into an extremely uncomfortable situation, my default is to assume no one likes me. 🤷🏼♀️
I sat down a few rows away from all the people and pulled out my phone. I checked my email and texted a few long-distance friends. As the time neared for the ceremony to start (could the minutes pass any slower?!), people filled in around me. My son’s friends’ mom sat in front of me with her friend which helped relieve some of the intense awkwardness I felt.
Later that day, I talked with a friend who understood the agony of making friends as an introverted adult in a new town. Our children are getting older and we can’t rely on play dates to make connections with other women. Developing adult friendships can be very intimidating for an introvert. Here are five things you should know about
me the quiet girl you may have noticed:
1. If you are meeting her in a social setting, more than likely she is insanely uncomfortable. No, really. While extroverts feel alive in social settings surrounded by people, introverts are likely devising their exit strategy. She most likely will not initiate conversation, but may smile and then divert her eyes. This is her effort at being social. Small talk may be awkward (see #2), but she will be forever grateful to the person who comes up to her and initiates conversation.
2. Her responses to your questions may be brief not because she isn’t interested in conversation, but because she’s trying to weigh her responses so as not to say anything awkward. I cannot tell you how many times I walk away from a conversation with someone new and beat myself up for all the ridiculous things I said. Small talk is not our forté. In fact, for me? I’d rather have a root canal (which I’ve heard is painful) than small talk with a stranger. (Not really. Well, maybe . . .)
3. She most likely will not initiate hanging out. She assumes you already have friends and don’t need any more. Does this sound ridiculous? It sure does. But it’s true. On the off chance she does invite you to hang out (probably via text because who likes rejection to their face?), her heart is pounding and she has assumed the answer will be thanks, but no.
4. If you invite her out and it’s a setting with lots of people (social hour, Bunko, girls night out), her initial reaction will be no. If she does accept, she will likely stay by your side instead of mingling because you are a “safe” person. She will not initiate conversation with others. See #1. Introverts do not love social settings. We love one-on-one time, most likely at home in our sweatpants. Being surrounded by people and expected to engage is actually pretty draining for an introvert. I had a busy month of socializing (I attended like, five events) and dramatically declared to my close friends: “I refuse to see or talk to anyone for a whole week!”
5. It will take a few times hanging out for her to feel truly comfortable. It is rare to meet another adult woman and instantly feel a connection. It happens, for sure. More often than not, though, an introvert will take more time to warm up and feel comfortable. She may not even use the label “friend” to describe you for a while for fear that you don’t feel the same way. (Honestly, it’s like dating. Except worse because more than likely you will continue to see this person in social settings you are forced to attend and it’ll be awkward if you don’t mesh.)
God created us all in His image (Genesis 1:27). Extroverts and introverts, we are all needed in God’s Kingdom. The closer my relationship to Jesus grows, the less I feel it necessary to make friends. I can just talk to Jesus about my issues and what’s going on in my life. I know my worth isn’t found in the number of friends I can count. I don’t need people to approve of me.
The truth is, though, God created us for community. He created a suitable partner for Adam in Eve. We find examples of beautiful friendships throughout Scripture. Jesus – Son of Man, fully God and fully human – surrounded himself with close friends. They are a gift from God. He knows it is hard to do life alone, even when we are close with Him. If you are an extrovert and you’ve noticed a quiet girl in a social setting, prayerfully consider reaching out to her. If you are an introvert, prayerfully consider stepping out of your box and being vulnerable. We need each other, ladies. Life is hard. Let’s embrace God’s gift of friendship.
P.S. This is a really vulnerable thing for me to write. I’m going to go hide now.