Say yes. Live dangerously. Dance like no one’s watching.
Get out of your comfort zone. Meet strangers. Make small talk.
When are you allowed to leave? An hour? Half an hour? What’s your excuse when you do?
Finally, you’re free! You savor the relief, stepping away from the chatter.
Yet you feel guilty. Why would you want to be alone? Are you antisocial or something? That’s just weird.
You go home, put on pajamas, and open a book.
The real fun begins.
Have you ever experienced that?
I Socialized To Exhaustion
I had moved to a different city and I needed to make connections. I said “yes” to everything: game nights, concerts, karaoke, friends’ houses, friends-of-friends houses, church groups, Meetups, “girls’ nights,” and blind dates.
No wonder I was drained. I was burned out. I got irritable, depressed, anxious. I wanted to run away and hide.
But I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t say “no.” What if people were offended? What if they thought I was unfriendly? What if I missed out on something?
So I kept saying yes.
Until I had to say no.
When It Finally Broke
A couple from my church were having a cookout, and I volunteered to bring a side dish. I thought it was just going to be our usual “group.” Easy peasy.
Then I learned that dozens of other people were invited. People I didn’t know, but I’d have to meet and make small talk with while being crammed into a little townhouse. I felt awkward and claustrophobic just thinking about it.
Two years of frantic socializing crashed over me, and I gave up.
I texted the hostess my apologies, but I couldn’t make it.
Then came the rush of relief—then, the guilt.
How I Crushed My Guilt
I already knew I was an introvert. I didn’t mind time alone, I didn’t like crowds, and I preferred one-on-one conversations with people I knew well. Otherwise, however, I knew little about what being an introvert meant.
That all changed.
Desperate to assuage my guilt over canceling plans, I searched social media and Google for others who might relate.
I found more than that. I found knowledge, a community, and a fresh perspective on life.
I stumbled upon anecdotes of people who felt the same way about parties and evenings alone. I skimmed scientific findings on the brains of introverts and extroverts. I gobbled up excerpts from Susan Cain’s book Quiet. I even whipped up a brief post on my own blog about my feelings that evening. It drew encouraging comments from others who connected with it.
I Learned What Introversion Really Means
It’s more than being quiet or shy or preferring solitude.
Introversion means listening and thinking more than speaking. It means needing time to sort out your thoughts, to “process” information before deciding what to say, do, or even feel. It explained why I hated phone calls and had trouble with casual chit-chat.
Digging further in introversion, I noticed groups of letters like “ISTP” and “INFJ,” with no clue what they meant. Curiosity led me to the Myers-Briggs Type Index—a new turn on my road of self-discovery.
I found my Myers-Briggs type and gained even more understanding of my thought processes, my strengths, and my weaknesses. I learned that many things that were “weird” about me were actually common in my type. I better understood many of my relationship struggles.
What Else Did I Learn?
I learned more than my personality type. I learned principles that almost anyone could benefit from on occasion.
- Sometimes, it’s okay to give up. You don’t always have to move forward. Even the greatest armies have to retreat and regroup at times.
- Guilt is a poor motivator. Sometimes “I don’t want to” is reason enough.
- The easiest way can be the best way. It would have been a challenge to go to that cookout and socialize that day. Some say that’s what makes things worthwhile. But if I hadn’t gone easy on myself, I would have missed out on massive personal growth.
Living In A Whole New World
For one fateful evening, I backed out. I said no. I stayed home.
And my life is richer for it.
Do I still challenge myself? Leave my comfort zone? Force myself to say “yes”?
Of course. Even introverts need to get out of the house sometimes. But now I find a healthier balance.
I was acting like an extrovert with an endless supply of “social energy.” But I was kidding myself, and others around me.
When I finally gave up and explored who I really was, it blew my mind.
I learned not only what I needed as an introvert, but learned to make peace with it. I understood other people better, thus enriching my relationships.
Fading were the fears of being weird and antisocial. Weakened was the shame of not going out.
Recharging my “social batteries” meant that, when I did go out, it was with more energy. Instead of treating it like a painful obligation, I wanted to socialize. There were still awkward or unsuccessful interactions, but I stopped feeling so burned out. I gave myself permission to leave after a set period of time—and sometimes even stayed later!
Guess what? I still meet new people. I connected with other introverts on the Internet, and made deeper connections with real-life acquaintances. I looked for clues to other peoples’ personality types and learned best how to relate to them.
What began with guilt ended with zero regrets.
Live Quiet and Free
Say no. Stay in.
Take a deep breath, put on your pajamas, and enjoy the silence.
If you’re an introvert, burned out from social obligations, you are not alone.
When you can appreciate that in yourself, it sets you free.
Free to socialize when you most want to.
Free to understand yourself and others, to build ever more valuable relationships. Free to reach out when you recognize similarities in others.
Free to say no, to regroup, to collect your thoughts. Free to exert yourself next time.
Free to live as your own beautiful self.
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24 thoughts on “How I Changed My Life by Staying Home”
Loved this article, it is so well written!
Emily, I’ve been in your shoes. I’m an introvert who used to pretend that I had an unlimited supply of energy to socialize too. It was exhausting. For a long time, I thought feeling drained all the time was normal. But at least it was better than feeling the guilt of saying no. I love your advice “The easiest way can be the best way.” Great reminder for the holidays.
Absolutely, Lori. The guilt is strongest around the holidays, for me, so I’m still trying to figure out how best to dole out my “social energy” this time of year.
Wishing you balance and ease this time of year Emily.
I always try to find out answer to my problems. I try to motivate myself by downloading inspiration quotes apps, reading blogs but today and only today I have realised that my answers lie within me. No one could ever answer to my questions because those answers were inside me. I am feeling so much surprised to know that. I just hugged myself tightly. I kept my hands in pocket and walked for hours alone quitely and smiling
It’s what youngsters call “fomo” – fear of missing out. I get it all the time and I pay the price, literally.
Great read, and well written. I relate 100%!
Oh gosh, I haven’t heard of that acronym before, but it’s so true. #FOMO, man.
Society puts a negative connotation on introverts and praises extroverts. It’s not fair but that’s the way it is. I am also an introvert and it is exhausting in every way to keep up with social norms, leaving you physically, mentally and emotionally drained. I am told countless times I am quiet, in my head I’m thinking is there something wrong with that?! Society is deathly afraid of silences, but those are moments that ring the loudest. Thanks for affirming that you don’t need to conform and you’ll be much happier that way, going with instead of against the flow of who you are. Thank you.
Absolutely, Mike. Not that we should never challenge ourselves, but trying to be people we aren’t can exhaust us and keep us from contributing to the world in the ways we’re best at.
Loved your article because I am an introvert too! Was such a relief to discover that, explained a lifetime of struggle.
Writing is the perfect pastime for an introvert and you do it well!
I will check out your website.
Thank you, Wendy! It was definitely a relief for me, too.
Well Said! Sometimes self analysis is necessary to go forward. So i think it is the best idea to stay home for some time.
What an amazing article! I loved it and identified myself every step of the way. I am an HR Professional and I constantly have to put on my social mask, pretend I love to be surrounded by new people and constantly making small talk to get to know others. That drains me, there are some days that I am exhausted and all I need is to sleep. I love your advice and you are right, having solitude is not something to feel guilty about. Thank you!!
I know how that goes. I have a part-time job that involves a lot of “face time” and some *ugh* phone time, and it’s absolutely draining. I live for the brief moments when I can retreat to the bathroom!!
Thank you for this great article. I completely relate and in saying no to those many gatherings I found a sweet spot that I didn’t even know existed. Finding friends who are introverts as well.
When they all gather it’s the best because there’s and abundance of meaningful conversation and it’s quieter :)
This is exactly me, although I’m still coping. And I guess I lost a friend because they think I’m isolating myself to them. I’m still figuring things out for me building a better relationship with myself. And this article is such a great help. Thanks
I can relate to your part of trying to live as an introvert. As I’m recovering from my divorce and business failure, I too was on a socializing frenzy and challenging my limit in doing things that are out of my comfort zone.
In the end, I have to put a stop and really let the dust settle. I was trying to change into someone else, hoping to leave my dark past behind. But I didn’t realize that in doing that, I am leaving behind my strengths as well.
Now, I truly accept who I was, the mistakes I made but also with the new found knowledge that I am far from hitting my limits of growth.
Love this article! I can clearly relate this since I am total introvert and it can be tiring to socialize and meet new people. :|
There is a website called 16personalities.com where I’ve taken a test recently. Apparently I’m a quiet extrovert – INFJ personality. There is also a category for loud introvert. Very accurate and thorough test results and I highly recommend everyone take it to better understand themselves.
I can relate to this! I always felt like something was wrong with me. I was just looking at blogs and this came up and caught my eye, how weird that I stumbled upon this. I looked through your blog, can’t believe you are from Toledo, OH. I’m from Defiance, OH. Its like 40 minutes away.
Interesting article and perspective Emily. Well done. I find myself somewhere in between. Perhaps it’s some level of claustrophobia that makes me want/need to get out. But I do find myself relating better with people in written form than in person some times. You give me some ideas in terms of finding potential networks/outlets on line. Thank you.
I’ve felt this too at times. I used to think I had to go out at least Friday and Saturday night. But often I felt more alone in a busy bar/club than actually being home alone. By Sunday I always needed some quiet time. Thanks for sharing!