Being an introvert is hard most of the time — but especially when faced with making New Year’s resolutions. People always want you to make resolutions like, “take more risks” and “sign up for a fun exercise class,” when all you really want to resolve to do is “never answer the phone” and “spend more time with my cat.” Introverts can still kick butt at resolutions, as along as you do it on your own terms.
There are a lot of misconceptions about introverts that tend to paint us in a bad light. I’ve been an introvert all of my life, and let me assure you that we’re not rude, we don’t hate people, and we don’t hate going out in public, among other things. We just see the world and interact with it differently than our extroverted friends. And since New Year’s resolutions tend to be about changing something seen as problematic — such as not exercising enough or being afraid to speak your mind — our introverted qualities tend to get targeted.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being introverted, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to change yourself in order to satisfy some social notion of a fresh start on January 1. These resolutions are simply meant to highlight and adapt your introverted tendencies so you can be your happiest self.
1. Don’t try to be an extrovert
First of all, being an introvert isn’t just something you can turn off and on. You can’t will yourself to be extroverted any more than you can will yourself to change eye colors — so stop trying. There is no shame in being an introvert, as there is no shame in being extroverted, so you shouldn’t feel like you have to change yourself just because it’s a new year. Resolutions are about being your best self, and your self happens to be introverted.
2. Just make one new friend
Look, I know how hard it is to make friends as an adult person. And you can’t expect to turn your introverted self into a social butterfly in 2016, so just resolve to make at least one new friend this year. And they don’t even have to be a fully fledged, hang out and watch Empire kind of friend, either. Maybe you can befriend someone at work so you have someone to chat with and get lunch with on occasion. Or you could be friendly with someone in your yoga class. Heck, I recently became Facebook friends with one of the servers at my favorite pub, and I’m pretty sure that counts.
3. Don’t make so many excuses
We’ve all been there — your family or friends invite you out, and your brain begins thinking of an excuse to get out of it. I think a lot of introverts feel bad, like we’re going to hurt people’s feelings, if we just outright say no to social events. But they’re going to figure you out if every time they want to hang out you’re “out of town.” You can still let them down gently, but you should also just be honest. They love you for you, introvertedness and all.
4. Actually say yes once in a while
Going along with the previous resolution, try and commit to agreeing to an event, party, or hang out at least once a month. You can pick and choose what you agree to — and making your own plans will pretty much guarantee it’ll be something you’ll enjoy — but you’ll need to go out of your comfort zone sometimes. And since it’s only once a month, you’ll have plenty of time to detox afterwards.
5. Do something productive with your alone time
All those weekend nights you’re not frequenting the club are the perfect time to catch up on your favorite TV shows, but it can make even the most dedicated of introverts feel a little antsy. Introverts don’t crave social interaction, but a lack of stimulation drives us a bit batty. Obviously, more power to you if you want to spend all your alone time burning through your TV show queue — however, you’ll probably feel a lot better accomplishing a few things. Start your own reading challenge, resolve to finally organize your craft room, or just fold that mountain of laundry that’s been building up. You can still have your me time without feeling bored.
6. Stand up for yourself
My sister is an extrovert and many of my friends are too — so learning to stand up for my wants and needs was an important lesson. Introverts face a lot of misconceptions, and you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for yourself when people get it wrong. For instance, if a friend or family member makes a joke that you hate everyone/you’re shy/you’re not a talker, don’t be afraid to set them straight. And if they're trying to tell you how to live your life... well, tell them where to shove it — politely, of course.
7. Take a solo adventure
My introverted nature is coupled with my general anxiety disorder, so the idea of going to a new place all by myself is pretty scary. But for most introverts, the idea of spending time by themselves, doing what they want, and going where they want, probably sounds pretty nice. Whether it’s a day trip to a new museum or a weeks-long vacation in a totally different country, try and set time aside for some solo adventures in 2016.
8. Feel OK with straight-up leaving events
Hey, you tried your best — you got invited to a party, you came, you saw, you had a little to drink, and now you’re not feeling it. Do not feel bad about bailing out of social situations once you’re not having fun anymore. You can make the rounds to say goodbye (and face the disappointed or pitying looks), or you could just ghost off into the night.
9. Embrace your awkwardness
For introverts, small talk and other simple social interactions do not come easily. How many of us have replied to a waiter’s statement of “enjoy your food” with a “you too,” and then couldn’t look them in the eye the rest of the time? Learn to embrace your awkwardness should the moment arise. Make a joke, talk about how much you hate small talk and propose a deep conversation topic instead, or pass off a failed handshake as a hip new greeting.
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