Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Aug 07

Introvert Alert

My husband and I were invited to a party this past weekend.  My friend Mel was co-hosting, and this party is a pretty big deal among those who’ve gone in the past.  What used to be a small gathering of co-workers has turned into a group of 45-50 people.  It’s turned into quite a yearly event.  We were invited last year and I can’t remember why we didn’t go but this year I decided that unless I was downright bedridden, we were going.  My decision, per usual Ellen-Style fashion, left me fidgeting days before the party.  I knew that getting out of the house would be good for me and that I’d consider it a huge achievement when it was over (like climbing Mount Everest) but that initial feeling I get beforehand, that cocktail of nerves and butterflies – that’s what I have a hard time working through. 

Introverts get a bad rap by most standards.  We tend to get labeled by those who don’t know us as being rude, pretentious weirdos who don’t like people.  I suppose all is fair in love and war however, because extroverts get just as bad a rap by being labeled as overly energetic, attention-seeking socialites who hate to be alone. 


I will admit, I used to consider myself completely and utterly flawed as an introvert.  I wanted nothing more than to be an extrovert for many reasons, but specifically because I was fascinated with their ability to gain energy from large groups of people.  As an introvert, being in large groups has always been very draining for me.   Over the past few years, I’ve started reevaluating my personality, my nature vs. nurture behavior. I am learning to embrace the fact that I am who I am, and if that’s an honest to goodness introvert then so be it. 

This is my house.  Welcome to where I live.

1.  I’m not a recluse.  I love people.  In fact, the few friends that I do have, I value intensely. 

2.  I don’t dislike going out in public.  I just view social engagements differently; I don’t like being out in public for as long as extroverts do. It doesn’t take me very long to see what’s happening around me, so I can assess situations fairly quickly.  I ‘get’ what’s going on and once I’ve experienced enough of my surroundings, I’m ready to go home.  It’s not that I’m bored or that I think the outing is lame.  It’s just that I get a bit drained of mental energy; I need to go home, soak in the experience and recharge.

3.  I am not boring.  I prefer the term ‘exotic’ or ‘unique’!  lol  I have plenty of things that I love to do.  It’s just that I tend to enjoy doing things that challenge me mentally and emotionally more than socially.  How many unique exotics do you know that are boring? 

4.  By definition, I am not shy.  I can certainly talk to strangers;  I just need to have something to talk about.  I prefer to engage in a conversation, not small-talk.  Unfortunately, small-talk is what generally drives conversations where groups of people congregate. 


A dear friend of mine recently provided with me with a list of tips on how to engage in small-talk when it doesn’t come naturally.  You can find the full article here.  Basically, it involves asking questions that will encourage a conversation.  I received this list after my party this weekend but upon reading it I was glad to see that I’d used some of the conversation-starters on my own:

‘So, how do you know our host/hostess?’

‘Have you been to this party before?’ 

‘What line of work are you in?’  (an oldie, but it works!)

What I liked about the article most was being reminded of this line:    Your words may be forgotten, but how you make people feel will be remembered. 

That is completely and utterly true. 

So, you ask – how did the party go this weekend?  I was glad that I went, and it helped solidify some newly found friendships which is always a good thing.  Plus, when we get invited to future events it won’t be so stressful beforehand because I will have already seen most of these people before.  In true introvert fashion though, I was ready to go home within 4 hours of arriving, apparently just as the party was getting started!  The thing that I learned about my friend Mel that I really value: she takes no offense when I’m ready to leave, nor does she make me feel guilty for not staying longer.  She’s just happy that I’m there. In other words, she lets me be me.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you find that people label you inaccurately?  What’s your best tip for breaking the ice at a party?

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  1. I don’t think in terms of those words but I would classify myself as shy, and most who meet me would be very surprised at that. I think I am like you, based on what you say. I enjoy people. Heck, I love chatting with customers in my store! But in social settings I am not good at small talk and I don’t enjoy it. I will make an effort and can fool people, but it IS and effort and I’d honestly rather stay home then go to a party where I don’t know people. Some find that enjoyable, not me.

    • Ellen says:

      I think every person can be classified as shy given the right situation. When my husband told me that he was shy, I stared at him like, ‘who are you trying to fool??’ but he is. He just handles his shyness differently. This is why I don’t like labeling people per se; everyone is so different.

      • Munchberry says:

        Mmmm. My hubs is not shy AND he would not label himself as shy. BUT he is not gregarious. I am gregarious, but I think shy who covers by being extroverted because I can. I am like a roman candle. My husband is a slow burner. I am the entertainer, he is the chatter. I loathe the chat. Thinking about chatting makes me want to barf. 4 hours of chatting? I would prefer to stick a knitting needle in my eye. Strangers? I could stroll all day long and have random conversations – just do not make me hang with them.

        Seriously what the heck is wrong with me? A friendaphobe. I need a psychologist. Just reading your having to make small talk that long tired me.

        Speaking of – I need to go to bed.

  2. Roxie says:

    Four Hours? Four Hours? Holy Moley – that’s a marathon party session. It might take me years to work up to a four hour session. Right now, my limit is about an hour and a half. You are a unique and exotic stone cold rock star to survive a four hour party! I’m Gabby McGabberton and I’d run out of things to say even with a gathering of my nearest and dearest.

  3. It’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve recognize my introvertedness for what it is. I often scored “extrovert” when taking those Myers-Briggs personality type indicator tests, but I think the reason is because I thought I was supposed to WANT to be an extrovert. I may be what they call “ambiverted.” I do okay with small talk for short periods of time but prefer to go deeper with people. At parties/social gatherings I find myself drawn to one or two people and will spend most of the time with them.

  4. Norma says:

    It depends on the situation. I can force some extroverted behavior when it’s called for — business events and family parties. I don’t seek out conversation at the gym (I’m on a nodding basis with a dozen or so other regulars but have no idea what their names are or what they’re like) and at friends’ parties I am more likely to stick to people I know. I don’t go around introducing myself to a million people. I prefer hosting get-togethers rather than attending them, I’d say. “Have you tried these here shrimp dip?”, now there’s a conversation-starter! 😉

  5. debby says:

    Oh yes, I am an introvert, and I love your descriptions. That describes me much better than just “shy,” which I haven’t thought fit for years.

    And yes! FOUR HOURS at a party!!! You are a rock star introvert!!

  6. On the Meyers-Briggs scale, I’m a 10-0 extravert. Even so, I do require my ‘recharge’ time and often step away for a few minutes at social events.

  7. Sharon says:

    I am so far on the end of introvert, it isn’t even funny, but I don’t like being described as shy or boring because I am certainly not shy, nor do I think I’m boring. What I am happy to finally be able to say is that I am comfortable with who I am and not at all shy about making certain those needs are met. Once I reached the point of kindly asking for what I needed or just doing it without a lot of hoopla, being an introvert became something I celebrated rather than retreated from. As I write this, I’ve “retreated” to our upstairs bedroom in a cabin we are sharing with six other people for a few hours of badly needed alone time.

    One of my favorite questions to ask is “what’s been the best part of your day/week?

  8. Michele says:

    Oh my goodness!! Ellen, I was right with you up until the very last moment — then, I had to laugh. You said you were ready to go home within FOUR HOURS!!! I’d call that a huge success and far longer than many extreme introverts could take.


  9. Elaine says:

    Loved (and identified with) this post. Good for you for sticking with your plan and going-you’re an inspiration! Do check out the book Quiet by Susan Cain- reaffirming for those of us on the non-gregarious side of the social interaction scale.

  10. Munchberry says:

    4 hours? I would have been ready to head out too. I have a finite amount of small talk in me. Once spent, I am done. I want to be interested in you, but… sorry – time is up. I am gregarious right to the end then get me the hell out of there. The next day I require rest and for heaven sake do not come over for a dang visit.

    My problem is that I don;t give a rip what they do for a living. Oh you are an accountant? Swell. Pass the cheese dip and the tequila bottle. LOL OK no. Not tequila. But definitely the wine.

    Glad you toughed it out. A notch in the extroverted bedpost.

  11. didi says:

    I swing back and forth between being an introvert and an extrovert. Generally I know right away which one I am favoring at any given time. If I am feeling like Hermit the Froggy I usually respect my feelings and do something by myself. When I force myself to do social things I feel drained and antsy. On the other hand, if I’m in a social mood I get a charge out of chatting with people.
    I don’t like small talk, and can’t even bother pretend to engage in it. I pop into conversations that interest me, and that works out pretty well. The only time I force small talk is when I start working somewhere new

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