Happy Sunday everyone!! Today was the start of a new week, and we all know what that means! Sunday morning church! For some of us, this is a time of joy and renewal and catching up with friends about how your week is going. But, for those of us that are introverts, going to church- or anywhere else- can just be hard! And then of course the guilt begins because shouldn’t we enjoy going to church? Shouldn’t we look forward to seeing friends when we are out and about? Shouldn’t I know by the time I am an adult how to be social?
After all, these are all opportunities to share Christ, right? We should take advantage of every moment.
If only having the right attitude made being an introvert easy.
Unfortunately, if you are an introvert, any or every social occasion can just be a panic attack waiting to happen. I’ve been there, and it’s miserable. But, I also love seeing my friends and interacting with them once I get over the general nervousness. Which took years of practice and still happens all of the time.
So, if you want to be able to go out and enjoy yourself without having a lot of anxiety, you are in good company! Read on!!
Go with a friend you trust.
This is my go-to solution when I am going somewhere new or where there are going to be a lot of people. I absolutely hate crowds and shut down when I am not sure who to talk to. Luckily I have a boyfriend who understands that, and he knows to be on standby or walk around with me if I am on the verge of a breakdown. Bringing a friend and letting them know you need them to stick with you is a great solution for avoiding situations where you have no idea what to do. Bonus points if your friend is an extrovert and can carry the conversations you have with others!
Check your expectations at the door.
I used to always feel so guilty when I would leave a school event, party, or -gasp- even a church event. I would be so drained, but I would feel like I hadn’t had the experience I should have had. I didn’t talk to enough people. I should have been more social. I should have visited with so-and-so. I should have had an awesome time. The list goes on. The inward diatribe was worse than actually talking to people!
It wasn’t until that I realized it was okay to not be the most extroverted person in the room that I started to relax. I quit going places expecting to talk to ten people. Two was just fine for me! I was fine with being the quiet one and letting others do the majority of the talking. So, leave your expectations of yourself and give yourself permission to enjoy yourself in your own quiet, introverted way.
Focus on others instead of yourself.
This piece of advice may sound a little odd, because it’s other people that make us nervous! But, if you stop focusing on how nervous you are and start looking for ways to serve others, life can be a lot easier. As introverts, we have unique strengths. We are good listeners, we notice things other people don’t, and did I mention we are good listeners? Use that to your advantage. Ask someone a question like, “How is your week going?” and just truly listen to them. People love it, and you might find that you enjoy it too!
Have an escape option (Use with extreme caution!)
My last advice should only be used if you are about to have a complete meltdown. Running from social situations is not a good habit to have. But sometimes it is just necessary.
Last fall, I was really beginning to struggle with anxiety, and I had to leave my college ministry’s worship service to have a panic attack. I had been fighting fear the whole evening, and I just lost it. While handling anxiety is a story for another blog post, I realized later that I should never have let it get that far. I should have left way before I started crying and hyperventilating. And that is okay. No one is responsible for your emotional health but you. So take care of it.
I hope today’s blog post gave you some advice and encouragement to go be a part of the community you live in- whether that’s at work, school, church, or even your family. What are some ways that you make being social easier on yourself? I would love to hear your tips! Have a great day and God bless.