Fun Fact: I’m an extroverted introvert…the worst kind possible because no one begs to think we exist. I’m equally fueled by human interaction as much as I am easily drained by said social interactions. A little part of me dies whenever I have to commit to plans, peel myself off the couch, say bye to my #bae, Netflix to head outside and interact with people…especially lots of random people! Once I get out of my own way and dart into the world, I of course couldn’t imagine a life without exploring but the steps getting there can be quite treacherous depending on my mood. I’ve found that one of the best remedies comes from building in mini breaks between commutes to fully recharge before immersing in social situations. Here are some fun ways that I’ve found helpful with hanging onto “me-time” while navigating through various points of my journey…
Not only made for blocking out the wails of screaming babies, oversized headphones are also a stylish way of placing a visual do-not-disturb sign on your meditation time while in-flight. Removing a pair of oversized headphones requires much more energy than removing ear buds. So, if you’re sitting next to someone that’s a bit of a Chatty Cathy, after a couple of interactions, they will physically see the effort and kindly get the point.
If you’re an audiophile not looking to drop $9,000 on a pair of Dolce & Gabbana headphones to get your momentary anti-social on, here’s a much cheaper, chic alternate from Skullcandy that’s just as much of a statement piece:
READ A BOOK VS. A MAGAZINE OR KINDLE
Reading an actual book versus a magazine or using an electronic device like a Kindle or iPad actively shows your time commitment and concentration and leaves little room for unrelated banter. If your seat mate cares to interrupt and find out what you’re reading, at least their inquiries will be focused on a particular subject you’re passionate about which is the magic way to any introverts heart. You will have control in the situation without getting overwhelmed with engaging in small talk or icebreaker conversations that leave you squirming. If you want to be more direct with deflecting mindless conversations, pick a heavy-hitting classic like Ta-Neshi Coates’ Between The World and Me.
OPT FOR A WINDOW SEAT
If you’d like to dial-down your interaction while building more time for introspection – pair your oversized headphones and book with a window seat. You’ll have less contact with those in your row due to being tucked away in a corner and can stare out at a view that welcomes lingering thoughts and an added sense of release.
WALK AROUND WITH A CAMERA
Walking around with a camera gives you the ability to interact with people without necessarily committing to full conversations. Introverts love observing and exploring the world in an insular manner and doing this through a viewfinder grants less anxiety being around large groups of people while also passively engaging.
GET A ROOM
If you’re traveling with a group of people and can afford to splurge a bit, opt for a private room. If there’s no way of getting a private room, sit out of one of the group activities during your stay and enjoy a night to yourself. It will work wonders for the duration of your stay. Of course your extroverted friends will try and make you feel bad about all that you “missed” but one night isn’t going to trump all your memories. Listen to your body and follow what it says, you’ll live with less crankiness later.
SCRIBBLE OR SKETCH IN A JOURNAL
Holing up at a cafe while jotting down notes or sketching with some old school pen, pencil & paper are great forms of centering thoughts and anxieties while taking a necessary breather from speaking. Writing or drawing on a physical blank canvas gives you all the space you need to process your reactions to your new environment at your own pace while equally serving as great reference points whenever you’re ready to dive back into real-time conversations with others. If you want to have a little fun with sarcasm to ease your social burdens along the way, you can turn your journal into a cheeky burn book keeping track of small talk conversations you’ve regretted having on the road.
AS ALWAYS, DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY AND HAVE FUN!
Watch some humor from fellow introverted characters like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon or the cult queen of all introverts, Daria, who tackle introversion and social awkwardness in ways that make you relate and laugh out loud about your own weird tendencies when surrounded by people who don’t understand you. These scripted moments will linger on as inside jokes and you’ll see that there’s always a point of entry to laugh at your own misguided social moments.