I am an introvert. As a child I was “quiet” or “shy.” I don’t feel like a leader, and sometimes I get lost in large crowds and conversations. I try not to let it bother me, but sometimes being an introverted mom evokes feelings of loneliness.
An article on Psychology Today explores how being an introvert can be a wonderful thing: “It can be difficult to admit to yourself that you may be an introvert. When we think of people as being introverted, we often wrongly assume that they are people who don’t like people. However, introverts can be warm, interested in others, and powerful in their own right. Yet the stigma many still attach to being an introvert may lead people otherwise inclined to have these tendencies to resist, if not deny them, within themselves.”
Views from Introverted Moms
Introverted moms have an interesting struggle. Where other people would easily seek out help or support in the form of friends and casual contacts, introverted moms tend to shy away from unnecessary social situations.
I know I avoided baby groups and other organized events geared to new parents. Making small talk with other people I’ve never spoken to before is not fun for me. Put me in a room of people I’ve spent time with before I can blossom like crazy, but new people keep me very quiet and shy.
Sarah, blogger at Sarah from YGK:
“I have been an introverted person for most of my life, more comfortable reading at home than socializing at parties and the like. As time goes on and I become busier with work, family time, and after school activities, I am beginning to feel a growing sense of loneliness and a longing for more meaningful friendships. Simultaneously I feel that I lack the time and energy I need to see such friendships flourish.”
“Riddled with insecurity, I judge and question myself. I’m too boring. I wonder what stupid thing I am going to do embarrass myself. Come to think about it, this sounds an awful lot like dating, doesn’t it? Except it feels more difficult than dating,” says Sarah.
I identify with Sarah’s struggles. In our self-imposed isolation (though introverts don’t think about it that way) we push away others who may be genuinely interested in spending time with us.
Lily from FindingBalance.mom
“While I have no trouble making friends, I sometimes have trouble keeping those friends. I hate to go out, and I hate going shopping especially. It’s easier for me to choose to stay home with my laptop all day than hang out with the girls.” says Lily.
“Maybe that’s why I’m a blogger after all,” she continues. “I have tons of friends online, and maintain these relationships quite easily. It’s even fun – almost like I have this alterego online!”
Traits like social anxiety, quiet personalities, and physical exhaustion in busy environments make introverts difficult to befriend. But be patient with us – we will blossom under the right circumstances.
We want to be your friend (and trust me – we want everyone to like us.) And when we’re comfortable with you there will be times you won’t be able to shut us up!
Introverts need human interaction as much, if not more than, other personality styles. We crave it, even as we’re saying “Sorry, I can’t come to your party.” It’s an curious contradiction, and I live it every day.
Working Moms have different thoughts
“I’m an introvert and have zero desire to make new friends. My friends and my coworkers are my family. By the time I get home from peopling all day at work I have nothing left to give and crave quiet time to recharge.
“In theory, I feel like I should want to make new friends. Does that count?
If I make friends they have to be similar to me in order for it to work. Not needy of my time and attention, because often it’s just not in me to give.” says Joanna from Just the Minimom
Until I read Joanna’s thoughts, I did not realize how much I identify with this as well. I love the people I already know, and I enjoy socializing at work and places like the dance studio, but finding people who share my want to do “nothing” together can be tough.
Visit my Working Moms Series to read the struggles other working moms have, from time management to leaving work at work.
And as a member of the workforce I have to interact with people on a daily basis at my job. This is a sanity saver for me. Despite being an introvert, being alone too long (or isolated with children) adversely affects my mental health.
Working four days a week gets me out of the house, and forces me to interact with others, friends and strangers alike. Where having children made me more introspective, and eager to get home at the end of the day, working in a job that deals with the public helps me hone my fraternizing skills, even if I don’t want to.
Making friends as an introvert
Making friends as a mom shouldn’t be challenging. There are vast pools of people out there who share some aspects of your life, simply because you have children. Introverted moms have an added struggle, because often we just don’t know how to connect with others.
Even so, finding a connection beyond the superficial “we both have kids” can be very tough. How do you get to know someone when you’re afraid to ask serious questions? Introverts struggle to understand boundaries – we often feel we talk too much, or ask questions that are too personal.
On the flip side, cultivating friendships with extroverts can be frightening. They love going out, being seen, gathering in large groups, and for us introverts that is often the last thing we want to be doing.
So how we find those “real” friends? Honestly, I don’t know.
It’s a good thing my husband is my best friend. It turns out his sisters are the closest thing I have to a group of girlfriends. Dance parents keep me buoyed up during the week – our kids are friends so there are easy conversations there. Without my weekly interactions with these lovely people, as they fall in my schedule, I think I might go completely crazy.
Getting Smarter (or is it Older?) – some tips from an experienced introvert
Now that I’m approaching the end of my 4th decade of life I’ve learned a few things:
I’m not the only person who doesn’t have close friends.
Through the wonder that is the internet, I have met many people who share the same characteristics as me. Quiet, no close friends, prefer to read than socialize, email than call, and be with their family than head to a party.
I think if that’s what you prefer, do it! But don’t forget you can find fun in a situation that may be slightly outside your comfort zone. Go out with a new acquaintance (or someone you’ve casually known for a while but have never gone out socially with) and see if you have fun chemistry for a night out.
Most people are inherently nice.
Maybe I see the world through rose-coloured glasses, but I believe this. Sure, there are jerks out there, but you can spot them a mile away, can’t you?
Take a chance on someone who looks lonely as well. Say hi to a person you see regularly in your weeks. I’ve made a lot of casual friends by taking the time to just say hi, or give a compliment (sincerely) to those who deserve one.
Approaching people you casually know doesn’t have to be scary.
There was a time I would sit quietly during dance evenings and let people come to me (if they wanted to). Now I will engage with the “regular” parents because it’s more fun that sitting by myself.
A few weeks ago I literally moved seats from where I was, to a spot between two parents I know but who were involved on their phones. I put my phone away and made some silly comment about coming over to be social and they all engaged with me right away. We then spent a very fun 30 minutes chatting and playing with some of the other kids.
Yes, I had anxiety about going over to them, but I was so happy I did! Using your single common interest (kids go to the same school, or afterschool activity, for example) can allow you to feel more connected with others.
It’s normal to feel insecure.
I like to schedule my interactions with others. Knowing I’ll see my “friends” at the dance studio on certain nights helps me feel prepared to deal with them.
I hide behind screens a lot. My preferred mode of conversation is email, and if I have to make a phone call I like to rehearse it (if it’s something that I can plan for) and schedule it so I’m not taken unawares. If I’m being honest, no one EVER calls me, except for my parents, husband and kids. And I’m okay with that.
The only way I am able to deal with these feelings of insecurity is to step very slightly out of my comfort zone regularly. It shows me that yes, people do like me, when I make eye contact and say hello to faces I see regularly. Or when I go to a busy place, party, or concert, I do end up having a good time, despite my social anxiety or nervousness about new people and places.
Being an introvert does not mean you’re a lesser person. It means you may struggle finding your “tribe” or “besties”. And it may also mean you’re not destined to have a large group of friends.
Making the most of your personality and lifestyle means not comparing yourself with others. Do what feels right for you – in parenting, lifestyle choices, and everything else. No one knows you like you do – be true to yourself.
Do you push yourself, as an introvert? I definitely do – being an introverted writer is amazing because my internal voice is always talking to me, and I don’t usually want to share my thoughts out loud. But being an introverted parent is a lot tougher. Advocating for my kids at school causes me a lot of anxiety, especially as everything needs to be dealt with during my workdays.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on friendships, parent struggles, and just life observations as an introvert. Drop your thoughts in the comments!