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Not a People Person

"Okay i am going to very very clear...I need advice from someone older than me. I am not very much a people person like I don't talk much around other people how would you say I deal with this?"

- Anonymous

Hi!

I’m not very much of a “people person” myself, and am generally very shy and quiet in social settings, so I definitely understand this. As I know firsthand, it can be hard being less socially inclined than those around us… but I’m actually going to start by suggesting that, contrary to how it might feel at times, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some people are naturally introverted, some are naturally extroverted, and both are totally fine (and, of course, many people fall somewhere in the middle). In fact, there can be benefits to being quiet, just as there can be challenges. (For instance, sometimes people who are less extroverted can also be very observant, independent, good listeners, or trustworthy. Those are just a few examples.) And besides, if everyone was constantly talking, think how overwhelming that would be! Everyone has a different personality, and that’s what makes things interesting.

So changing yourself into a “people person” isn’t necessarily something you should have to strive for. That said, as someone who struggles sometimes with near-debilitating shyness, I do get the difficulty. As it happens, I wrote a blog post a couple years ago on the subject of shyness, so if you’re interested in taking a look at that, click here. :)

Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful for dealing with my own shyness and introversion, and “overcoming” it when necessary:

  • Practice! It may sound silly, but in the same way that you would practice sports, a musical instrument, or drawing, socializing is also something that comes with practice. Sure, some people are just naturally “people people,” and others are less so, but the more you talk to people, the easier it gets. Even just talking to yourself in front of mirror, or to an imaginary person, or just running imaginary dialogues in your head, can make it that one bit easier when you get to the “real thing”—though “real life” interactions with other people are, of course, the most effective means of practice (albeit also, often, more stressful).
  • Stretch your boundaries. Practicing means that you’ll be stepping out of your comfort zone, at least at first—and that’s a good thing. Now, I’m not telling you to go do something that’s going to give you a panic attack! Just baby steps (I talk about this a bit in the blog post I linked to above), one after another, can add up to ultimately make a huge (but gradual) difference to your comfort zone. You don’t have to go give a speech to a thousand people; just try and see if you can speak up, say, once a day at times you wouldn’t have otherwise. It can be as simple as saying hi, or telling someone you like their shirt. Or maybe at the beginning it’s not even about actually talking, you’re just spending more time hanging out with people. Slow and steady wins the race: Find your “normal” comfort level—and then try to go just one step (or even half a step!) beyond that.
  • I don’t know if this is true for you, but I know that in my case, I often hesitate to speak up because I’m worried I’ll come across the wrong way, and I don’t want to “mess up”. If you feel that way as well at times, remember that we generally judge ourselves way more than anyone else does. I may feel embarrassed because I think I just said something silly, but there’s a decent likelihood that no one else noticed anything the matter.
  • Know that you’re not alone. Because more outgoing, talkative people are, well, more outgoing and talkative, we’re often more likely to notice them. It’s all too easy to feel isolated, or the “odd one out” around other people when you feel like the quietest one in the bunch. But there are lots of other wonderful people all around you who are also not “people people,” and who can relate to what you’re feeling. It may not seem that way, but I guarantee that it’s true.
    And, finally…
  • Accept yourself! I’m never going to be a social butterfly… but that’s okay. Again, look for the good sides of introversion, not just the bad. Recognize that you are the person you are, and that that person is a) awesome and b) just as valid as everyone else out there. By all means, challenge yourself, work to be more comfortable socially, to talk to people when you need to talk to people… but don’t let yourself think that you need to change who you are just because you don’t talk as much as some other people.

 

I hope this helps you somewhat! I have eighteen years (and counting) of experience living with shyness and introversion, so if you ever want to talk further, you’re more than welcome to send me a message any time. Keep on shining your quiet light. <3

~ Sarah

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Replies

  • Thanks! This article helped a lot! I'm an introvert too.
  • Wow, great article! I'm super introverted too, and I found it very helpful and encouraging. Thank you for writing this! :33 <3
  • You're just an introvert. I am too! Don't worry about it. Just do what makes you happy and if being with people doesn't make you happy don't feel like there's something wrong with that. You will have to deal with people in life so it's good to know how but don't feel like you have to do things with people for fun if you don't want to.
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