How to be Social: A Guide for the Introvert


I love a big party. I’m far from shy. I can carry a conversation, nail a job interview, draw a stranger out of her shell, and tell a good story.

But I am also an introvert, which means that if left to my own devices, I would hang out by myself basically all of the time. I don’t hate people, I don’t hate fun, I’m not (always) socially awkward – I’m just more content than the average person to be alone. I like being alone. I need it. When I’m alone, I feel creative, laugh out loud at jokes I make up in my head, drive my car in silence, and sort through my emotions like a boss.

But just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean that I’m immune to loneliness. And just because my tendency is to choose solitude doesn’t mean that it’s always the best thing for me.

So I’m learning how to occasionally combat my natural disposition, because I believe that people are actually pretty spectacular creatures and it’s worth it to spend my time with them. Go figure.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on How to be Social (and So Can You!).


When it comes to social activity, introverts aren’t the best with spontaneity. For example, if I drive home from my open floor plan office where I’ve been within arm’s reach of people all day long and I don’t have any evening plans, chances are that I will turn down any last-minute invites to spend time with friends because LEAVE ME ALONE.

But when an introvert puts something on the calendar and has an opportunity to mentally prepare, the chance is greater for social success. So I’m trying to project out a week or two in advance and agree to at least one event each week. And then I spend the days before gathering up every ounce of energy I can muster in hopes that I’ll be happy and personable when I attend the event. Sometimes it works, sometimes it…

Sometimes it works.

I don’t like to do things that I don’t know I’m going to enjoy or be good at, so I tend to stick with what I know. I eat the exact same thing for breakfast every single day, I don’t go wakeboarding, I ignore volunteer opportunities, and I hike alone so there’s no chance of awkward conversation with a companion. Then again, there’s more chance of death by bear mauling. I suppose that’s the trade-off.

But I’m learning to just say yes, even if I’m not so sure about it. Go see a band I’ve never heard of? Yes. Look a stranger in the eye at the grocery store? Yes. Head downtown to an event even though I don’t know exactly where to park? Yes. The little risks add up, and all of a sudden, I’m meeting new people and doing new things and the story of my life has literally changed.

When I find myself surrounded by people, I’ve decided it’s okay to take breaks to clear my head. I politely excuse myself, shut the bathroom door, and lean my head against the doorframe like a crazy person about to lose her mind. It’s okay.

But I’m not allowed to escape out the window, and neither are you.

Take a deep breath, fix your hair in the mirror, and get back out there. Take it from me: introverts are fabulous, and it would be rude to withhold ourselves from the world.

Counterintuitive, yes. After all, aren’t we talking about how to be social?

But introverts are wired a certain way. We will self-destruct if we don’t take the time to refuel in solitude. If we pressure ourselves to DO MORE! SAY MORE! HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE MORE! all of the time, we will fall apart and probably be a miserable person to the people we’re trying so hard to interact with.

Hole up sometimes. You’ll thank yourself later.


Yesterday, I didn’t leave my house until 4pm. I spray painted a picture frame and played guitar and watched three episodes of “The Bachelorette” (a topic for another time) and wrote a few emails and organized my bathroom and did laundry and reveled in extravagant silence.

Then, when it was time, Toad and I walked out the door and we drove to a party in Boulder. I chatted with people I had never met, caught up with the few I knew, and put two chicken breasts on the grill so I would have dinner for a week. Later on, I drove to Lafayette and walked into a house I’d never been and met a bunch of new people, and I took out my guitar and we all played songs and sang, and I learned 4 chords on the banjo so I could be as backwoods as I’ve always known I am, and I whispered about heartbreak to a new friend, and when the clock read close to 11 and I finally left, I put Toad back in the car and we drove through the darkness in silence and I thought, “Whatever today was, I want more of it.”



  1. Shelby on June 17, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Thank you, pretty ballerina, for this post. It was perfect and I needed it. <3

  2. Andrea on June 18, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Wonderful, dear Annie. It’s always tough as an introvert being told you’re less valuable than an extrovert. I will certainly put this into action.

  3. Becca Groves on June 18, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I feel like I just got a free hour on the couch, filled with some self discovery and some helpful strategies for the days ahead. Thanks for this!

  4. Marijke on June 18, 2013 at 10:53 AM


  5. Hope on June 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    yes, and amen.

  6. bethany tab on June 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Yes to everything here. Open floor plans and ultimate frisbee are the bane of everything to me. I hope you have some giant earphones to help you survive your office.

  7. Plug | sayingthingsoutloud on June 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    […] latest post on being an introvert is so…you know, spot on. Or whatever people say about things that are true. The nail was hit […]

  8. Allison K. on June 18, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    I’m so relieved to know I am not the only person who avoids social engagements because of not knowing where to park. I really, really disklike not knowing where to park. We can build skyscrapers, but not parking lots, and that is what is wrong with America.

  9. Callie Duke on June 18, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    you’re speaking my language.. great post..

  10. HopefulLeigh on June 18, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD, Annie! Seriously lamenting it didn’t work out to see you last time you were in town. I am starting to suspect we are the same person.

  11. Dani from WA on June 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Thanks for this. I am not an introvert, but my oldest little man is. This has been super helpful in terms of understanding him. He’s only 6, and his social world really only consists of family these days, but maybe I can help him learn these tricks now and that will make things easier down the road.

    Honestly, You are amazing.

  12. The Zadge on June 19, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    From this Over-the-Top-Annoying-Extrovert: I LOVE having this FABULOUS Introvert in my social circle now!

  13. Friday Five | Elizabeth Hyndman on June 21, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    […] 3. Last week, we discussed the rise of the introvert. Now, Annie has a guide for the introvert on How to Be Social. […]

  14. Paul Parsons on June 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    So, as your increasingly introverted dad, I love this post from you on many levels. For one thing, how wonderful that you are aware of your limits and your desires, and you are learning what I call “tools” to help you do something better than survive or disappear or pretend. And all at your age. Because of my oversized reservoir of fears, I didn’t really “get” most of what you wrote here until years older than you. Moreover, I love the signs of health in you that you laugh out loud at things that go on in your head. And that you are unabashedly a person of routine, which I think is necessary in a postmodern world that wants to cast off all tradition/history. And maybe most of all, I’m so glad you let me hike with you – that it’s worth the risk of conversation.

    I love you dearly in your true self.

    Love, Dad

  15. Victoria on June 28, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    So I’m not alone. I literally am stuck in this “proactive” mode, in order to prevent situations where I might have one of my ‘lesser moments’. I’m surrounded by extroverts all the time, so your advice is sublime – thank you!

  16. Brenna Gee on June 30, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    I write about these exact feelings. I love the humor you included in your post. Thank you for spreading introvert awareness. It’s so lovely to know I am not alone in my feelings.

  17. Joey on June 30, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    You had me at parking dread.

  18. wreckless on July 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Yes. We are kindred spirits. Even though I don’t comment, I’m always reading. Never stop writing. Please. I beg.

    No Zuke treat for me. (um, and yes. Another synchronicity.)

    Anywho, I agree with everything and this is my Way. I am writing this amidst a very social period in my life. Lots of visitors. Lots of people wanting to do things and I keep pushing it. And now I’m losing my marbles. Time to retreat. I cancelled my plans today to hang out at home all day until this evening when I’ll take a lonely meander in the close by wilderness. Come to Bend. Come climb mountains with me. Or without me. I’d love your company either way. Quiet space. Isolation, steadily, but only temporarily.

Leave a Comment