Sometimes something as simple as asking a server at a restaurant to list the seasonal beer specials stirs up an introvert's anxiety to such a degree that we fumble for our words when it's time to ask her. As she recites the list of anywhere from ten to twenty beers, our eyes glaze over and our minds get fuzzy and we barely here anything she says. "I'll have the last one you said," we might reply, because it's easier than asking her to repeat it all again.
Sometimes making eye contact with people is difficult. But this particular symptom of introversion disappears when we're comfortable with someone. Thankfully my life is filled with a multitude of wonderful people with whom I'm completely at ease. But, when I was younger? Those people existed, but I wasn't comfortable enough with myself to take advantage of their existence. The struggle was real, trust me.
Sometimes we can't assemble our thoughts in any coherent manner. Instead, overwhelmed by whatever is stressing us out, our brains go into fight or flight mode, usually choosing flight. Making no decisions suddenly seems safer than making any, so we shut down emotionally. Turn inward even further, drifting off into a sea of confusion and self-doubt.
Sometimes extroverts make us cringe inside. Especially when they're forcing their plans on us, telling us what we should be doing, or simply talking so relentlessly and with such gusto that we're worn out within minutes of their verbal assault. While they're yammering, we're frantically scanning the room for an exit.
Sometimes people question a person's introversion. You don't seem shy, they say. You have friends, they state. These are all common misconceptions about introverts. We can be extroverted around the right people—the people we're most comfortable with, the kind who stimulate and engage us intellectually and emotionally. Introverts often have a lot to say and are extremely passionate about a wide array of subjects that matter to us. When we sense this in others, look out. Stand back. Get out of our way. We're talking friends for life territory. Introverts forge strong, lifelong connections with people who love us for who we are.
Sometimes that's all we need.