An introvert among extroverts

I wrote the below post on the plane coming back from the fitness retreat. I felt a bit down and needed to vent my feelings. Sorry if it sounds pathetic and self-involved but I thought it might speak to others who’ve felt the same way in similar social environments…

Though I had an absolutely fantastic time at the fitness retreat, pushing myself in crazy ways and doing things I never thought I’d do, there were elements of the week that really had an effect on me, and not in an entirely good way.

I went there with the intention to learn more about strength and nutrition, and to hopefully get an idea of how to balance my love of running with my love of strength training. I’d say I definitely achieved this. I came away feeling strong and proud of my body’s physical ability.

What I didn’t expect was feeling like my personality wasn’t good enough. In a group of very bubbly and outgoing individuals I tend to step back and let the big personalities take centre stage. I’m happy with that. I’m not shy per se, I’m just more introverted and not as confident with people I don’t really know.

Normally that’s fine. But it’s really hard when you’re spending six days straight with these bubbly, loud strangers who you normally wouldn’t socialise with. Not because they’re horrible or nasty, but just because they’re not you’re kind of people. Everyone is different, right? Everyone has their social circle they feel comfortable in.

The social butterfly girls clicked and gossiped. Their lives so different to mine; the cosmopolitan lifestyle of London living or the confidence that comes with being a good looking blonde that the boys flock around meant I didn’t quite fit. I couldn’t relate to their drinking stories, their dating habits and interests. And I would often let them do the talking while I sat quietly. And the problem for me was that I let this get under my skin when I found myself less included.

I’m not the type of person who can blend in to any social situation. I can’t force myself to be loud and “out there”. I can’t invent stories to make myself relatable or change my personality. So I faded away into the background. I felt like I didn’t become a significant member of the group. If I wasn’t there it wouldn’t have mattered I’m sure.

When we went on the night out I’m embarrassed to say I could have cried. I know this sounds so very dramatic but I’ve never felt so uncomfortable with my own personality before. I’m not going to neck back drinks to “come out of my shell”. And when someone keeps saying to you to loosen up, have some fun, “come on Anna you’re so quiet”, you can’t help but think something is wrong with you. And this only pushed me further into the shell that I never realised I had in the first place. I would have left early but I was dependent on the others with how to get back to the gym complex.

Funnily enough I felt far more at ease with the boys (or at least some of them, others were less forgiving of my personality – see above comments). I didn’t feel as left out or judged. When the girls decided to go off and do a “Victoria Secret workout” one morning, I went down to the strength area of the obstacle course with a bunch of the boys and had a thoroughly good time getting sweaty and dirty lifting heavy logs and tires about. We had a laugh and it felt brilliant to not feel as self-conscious.

I suppose what shocked me most was how I let these feelings bother me: feeling not good enough, insignificant and unimportant. I thought I was a fairly confident person but I suddenly felt stripped down to someone I didn’t recognise and looking back seems so silly now.

I know I’m not an awful person that no one wants to be friends with. Of course I know this. I have a bloody fantastic group of friends and with them I can say and do anything and they GET me.

In a place where I felt so strong in my body and confident with my body image I never imagined I’d feel so insecure about my personality and who I actually was. Without dwelling too much on this point, it obviously it doesn’t help being single and going through a divorce. You can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with you.

Anyway, now I’m back and in the “fold” of my friends and family I know how ridiculous it was to let it bother me. They weren’t “my people”. Not everyone is of course. I can’t change who I am and I’m just glad I have a good bunch of people who accept that.

Have you ever felt like this?

Do you think you have a high or low self-esteem? I think my self-esteem has taken a bit of a beating recently.

Would you say you’re an introvert of extrovert?

22 Replies to “An introvert among extroverts”

  1. I’m sure most introverts can relate – don’t worry, just keep on doing your thing and enjoying life. At least you had the confidence to get yourself booked on the retreat and out there – many people wouldn’t have the guts to do that.

  2. I would have felt very similar to you I imagine, especially on the night out. I’m much happier in my own skin and being ‘me’ than I was 10 years ago. I’ve met some amazing people through running, and this has helped me to discover who I am and what makes me happy. But, there are still plenty of situations where I slink away into the background.
    I would have been much happier hanging with the guys than the girls too (although definitely wouldn’t have fitted in with that crowd not being a gym-bunny!)
    I think lots of introverts would feel the same way that you did. The only difference being the majority of them wouldn’t have had the courage to book to attend to begin with. Well done for having the confidence to book on the course without knowing anyone else that was going to be there.
    At the end of the day, you were there to learn, which you did. I would imagine it’s highly unlikely that you will see any of the other attendees again. Well done for sticking to your guns and not changing your personality just to fit in with the crowd.
    Mary recently posted…The pre-Welly 5 BBQ runMy Profile

  3. I’d find a week with total strangers hard – even with a shared interest (I find 10 days enough on a business trip – and that’s having time to myself in the evenings and at the weekend….). And clubbing just Is Not My Thing.

    There’s definitely a gender thing here too: introverts very often get on better in groups of guys. There’s way less judging going on, so it’s easier to be quiet and just be. I’ve found this ever since I was about 4 years old. My days at a single-sex school were awful. University – it all got much simpler. Now I work in IT, and it’s far easier than when I worked in HR.

    It took time to work out how to be me. It didn’t happen all at once. It did happen with working out where my personal boundaries were…it’s all a process. The best bit: you went in the first place. I’m sorry you felt sad going home.
    Jane recently posted…Handy Cross Runners Grant and Stone Wycombe Half MarathonMy Profile

    1. Oh god, single sex school? I would just hate that. Luckily at school I had a great group of friends, both girls and boys. We avoided all those scary popular types 😉
      I totally agree about working in IT. I work mostly with men and I feel very ‘safe’. Whereas I’ve worked in an environment that was very female heavy and it was like a popularity contest and fashion show every day. Awful.

  4. As I said in the tweet this is totally relatable and effects both sexes. While I don’t wish you to be single for long (unless, obviously want to be) I’ve found it does force/allow you to get to know yourself a lot better and be comfortable with what you are. I am incredibly introverted and yet do a job where I have to be extrovert in short bursts every day. I can deal with this as it is almost an “act” but I hate social occasions and find it impossible to mix, especially with alpha males! However, don’t beat yourself up about how you felt. You are a normal, beautiful person!

  5. I’m not even sure this is just about introvert and extrovert — I think a lot of it is about people’s tolerance of other people’s personalities, likes and dislikes. I consider myself quite an extroverted person, but I’ve found myself feeling just like you did in situations where what interests me and what interests the others differs, and the others can’t accept that someone might see the world differently to them. For me it’s been certain stag nights/weekends or a particular type of “lads night out”. I mean I like a drink and a laugh, but not in a way where I’m making a nuisance of myself to other people, or just drinking for oblivion. I like to socialise with people where I can have a proper chat and some fun, and if I can help it in mixed company. Now I’ve been on some good stag dos and some good lads nights out, but the reason they’ve been good is because they’ve been with like minded people, or at least people who have respected my position. I think that mutual respect and shared interest is really the key.

    Sorry to hear that you felt like that though, as your friend that makes me feel sad. Glad you’re back in the fold now and feeling better again.

    1. Thank you, Martin 🙂
      I know what you mean. I fully enjoy myself around people I know, like and have similar tastes and personality traits to me…but loud, extravagant and overly-confident people are just not my jam.
      It’s similar with hen do’s – going clubbing, getting smashed and being outrageous – just not my cup of tea. Paint balling, quad biking or a spa day? Absolutely! But crazy night outs with people I’m not familiar with…not so much.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Pomphrey parkrun take two and BBQ funMy Profile

  6. Sorry to hear that you couldn’t fully enjoy the retreat. I can totally relate to where you’re coming from as both my partner and I have been in a very similar situation as we are both very introverted.

    We prefer each others company over going to some sort of event or going out drinking and I find that those that do the opposite can be very judgemental and wonder why we don’t like to drink etc. It’s very hard to NOT judge yourself based on those reactions.

    The thing is, at least you went on the trip, same could not be said for others and they’d definitely shy away from a situation like that. and kudos for not changing yourself just to blend in!
    Laura @ Laura : Fat 2 Fit recently posted…My Go To SnacksMy Profile

  7. Wow girl – Im sorry to hear about this. Like you, I am an introvert plus tend to be super shy and quiet when I don’t know people. Not to mention I am VERY different from most women [sooooo not bubbly or talkative] which is one of the big reasons why Ive never even tried to go to a conference or anything because I know I wont fit it. I wish I could be brave enough to step outside my box like you did though! Don’t feel bad about your personality though – you took a step of faith and put yourself out there!
    We are all different and fit in differently – that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you though!
    kat recently posted…Five Current BlessingsMy Profile

    1. Thanks Kat. It’s funny because I remember my parents and friends saying to me “you’re going alone with a bunch of people you don’t know?” and I didn’t think it was a big thing at the time. When I got there though I realised what they meant. I think if they were more similar to me it’d been fine of course but they were so different and slotted together so well.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Let’s talk about datingMy Profile

  8. I think it’s amazing that you went on that trip in the first place- I would identify with a lot of what you say- I am not an outgoing person and it takes time for me to get to know someone before I come out of my shell. When I am in a comfortable place (like marshalling at parkrun) I am more confident, and chat to people I don’t know as I already know we have a shared passion. But the thought of staying somewhere for a week with no-one I know would totally scare me. Also when I am with my friends they know things about me, such as that I don’t drink, so they won’t offer me a shot or whatever, but when we are with new people I am constantly having to explain myself, which makes me feel awkward. I don’t mind other people drinking of course, but I don’t want to me made to feel like a weirdo because I don’t.
    I think with self esteem it is natural to have highs and lows too- just try to spend more time with people that boost your confidence. Hopefully writing all of this is a bit cathartic for you and I hope you feel better. And as I said before, it is impressive that you went away on your own like that, as not everyone would, so you should be proud of that.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…100 miles in July, the final countdownMy Profile

    1. Yes, I fully agree about parkrun. I can easily chat to other runners and feel very comfortable. And the same about drinking. I’m not a big drinker at all (when I do drink it’s a big thing that I’ve probably planned for a while!) and when I’m with people who DO drink it’s just awkward saying I don’t fancy it or having to explain myself.
      I do feel better having written this and hearing other people’s experiences and knowing I’m not alone. When I was in the “thick” of it it was hard but coming home and getting back into my normal social bubble made me realise of course I don’t need to fit in with everyone – it’s just not possible and not to feel bad that I don’t.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Let’s talk about datingMy Profile

  9. I wrote a very similar post recently so I completely get what you mean. I’m not an unconfident person but I do sometimes find myself in situations where I feel like I’m so different to everyone else there and I just can’t make myself fit in – I saw some friends recently and all of the chat was about Tinder and online dating which wasn’t a chat I could add to in any way and I left feeling pretty crappy about myself and that I was failing to live up to the 20-something lifestyle that a lot of my friends lead. I think even going to an event like this on your own is a huge step that so many people wouldn’t be strong enough to do and hopefully some time with your friends will make you feel better 🙂 x
    LilyLipstick recently posted…Life: July Round-UpMy Profile

    1. Yes I think being introverted and confident are not mutually exclusive at all. I’m totally confident in my own ‘territory’ with my friends but outside of that I’ll hide away.
      I just don’t understand the Tinder thing. I cannot get to grips with meeting some random person you’ve had a very brief online conversation with. It literally terrifies me. But it must work for some people!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Let’s talk about datingMy Profile

  10. You’re not alone in feeling like this. First of all, I don’t think it’s necessarily introversion if you aren’t “loud” “outgoing” or “bubbly”. I think you can be extroverted and NOT fit in with everyone, particularly the girls you described. Anyway, there are many women out there who live, breathe, and eat to be social. That’s their things. They feel empty/naked without friends around them. You are more independent, and that’s how I see myself too. You don’t rely on other people to build you up. I face this at work everyday. I go to work to actually do work and focus on getting the job done. I’m not there to socialize or make friends. Of course, it’s always nice if you can have fun at work, but it’s not really my priority. So it sounds like you went through something similar. You were there to learn and grow. They were there for the social aspects of things. Anyway, sorry you felt awkward during some of these situations but don’t judge your personality for it. You have soooo much going for you!
    Elizabeh C. recently posted…Hitting Reset: My Month Without RunningMy Profile

    1. Thanks 🙂 Yeah I’m definitely not a girl who lives to be social and wants to have a zillion friends. I’m happy with the group I have and coming to realise I don’t need to be the bubbly loud person that seems to do so well in social situations. I’m the same at work too!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Let’s talk about datingMy Profile

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