Being an introvert can sometimes feel really hard.
Outspoken people seem to share their thoughts easily, adapt to new social situations and make friends without even trying, while we introverts sit on the sidelines, feeling ignored and stuck in our quietness, wanting nothing more than to go hide in the bathroom.
Does any of that feel familiar (it sure does to me)?
In my mind, the top three things that introverts struggle with are:
- Speaking up in group conversations & work meetings
- Expressing themselves fully
- Making new friends
What would you add?
Today, I want to talk more about the challenges of making new friends as an introvert.
To that end, I want to share my own experience…
I used to have NO social life. I would look at my list of texts on my phone and see only work messages. No friends. No planning events.
Not to say that I didn’t know people but I was so exhausted and busy running my first business that socializing took a HUGE amount of effort.
The way I was living my life wasn’t conducive to having friends. Looking back, I was burned out, stuck in perfectionism and people pleasing, and severely disempowered. And I had created a soul-sucking daily schedule on top of that nasty foundation.
I wasn’t available for relationships.
Combine this with being introverted and the result was a sad, sad social life.
To make a long story short, I now have lots of great relationships because I did a major overhaul of my life. First internally, then externally. I became available for relationships, both emotionally and schedule-wise. And I seek relationships with others who love the same things I do.
Most importantly, I changed my relationship with myself.
- I show up with joy to meeting new people, with low expectations of what I want to accomplish. I don’t need anything from them but I love it when they have something to share.
- I stay present with the conversation, deeply listen and try to understand the other person beyond their words.
- I allow my brain to notice my judgement, self-doubt and negative self-talk without believing it, knowing it’s a natural part of being in an unfamiliar situation. It doesn’t mean anything about me. It’s just my stress response. I’m an introvert after all!
Making friends isn’t just about showing up and talking to people.
It’s about you having a supportive relationship with yourself first – or at least moving in that direction.
Each time you reach out is a chance for you to practice supporting yourself. To learn and refine.
Here are a few tips for making new friends:
- Seek folks who love the same things you do; invite them for a coffee (virtual or IRL) to get to know them better
- Show up with curiosity and joy
- Stay present with the conversation and let your judgements float by. When you notice that you’re caught up in your own thoughts, take a deep breath and refocus on the other person.
- Allow yourself to feel awkward and slightly anxious
- Have a plan for how you will lovingly support yourself afterwards. You may need to retreat into silence for a bit.
- Most importantly, keep your self-talk kind.
I can’t stress how important this last point is – be loving of yourself. No matter what.
If you look at that list and think “this feels impossible”, you might consider focusing on your relationship yourself for awhile, before putting energy into building new relationships. Sometimes we need to do deep healing work before we’re ready to expand. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, just that your journey is calling you to focus within.
Wishing you love and kindness for yourself this week (and always).
P.S. If expanding your social life, your self-expression or being heard more are goals for you this year, I invite you to sign up for a brainstorming session with me. On this phone call, we’ll put together a plan to help you feel supported to make the changes you want to see in 2022.