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I’m a classic introvert, and on top of that I’m highly sensitive. So at times, I behave in ways that can seem a little strange to the rest of the population 😀

In the past I would try really hard to be more outgoing and appear more confident than I was feeling. And I would often judge myself for being too quiet, too shy, and for not coming up with great conversation topics at all times and witty replies on the spot.

But thanks to amazing resources (such as Susan Cain’s “Quiet”, Elaine Aron’s “The Highly Sensitive Person” and Anna Holden’s “Sensitivity Uncensored”) things have changed. It’s not like all of a sudden I’ve morphed into the most confident, outgoing woman ever, and there are still times where I’d rather pull a blanket over my head than go out and make conversation. But I’ve learned to accept, acknowledge, and even love my quiet, sensitive nature and all the gifts it brings.

And when I find myself falling back into old introvert patterns of avoidance, instead of beating myself up, I have to chuckle 😃 Let me share with you a few typical, awkward, sometimes embarrassing, but hopefully also endearing introvert habits:

1) When the phone rings and I don’t recognize the number, I usually don’t pick up. Even if I have all the time in the world. I’m just trying to avoid any unnecessary conversation that would cost me precious energy! Phony salespeople (pun intended!), wrong numbers and phone surveys are just so unnecessary. I do pick up for friends and family of course – if not, I’m in the shower, playing music or enjoying a deep conversation. Or I’m preparing dinner and the cooking process cannot be interrupted under any circumstances. Just leave a message and I’ll call you back once I am sufficiently mentally prepared to talk on the phone 😉

2)I work at a retail nursery, which means that customer service is king. Most of the time, I’m pretty good about greeting customers and asking them if they need assistance. But sometimes, I pretend to be busy, so I don’t have to talk to them right away. I let them look around first, and if they look like they have a question, I’ll approach them; if they don’t approach me first, which would be ideal 😃

3) When I’m at a party, concert or bar and I really want to go home because I’m tired and/or uncomfortable, I will not always say goodbye to everyone I know. I pick one or two people that are easily available, give them a hug, and get the hell out of there.

4) I often overthink if it’s appropriate to hug somebody – even if they’re a friend and I really like them! Do they really want to be hugged at that point? Is it too much to hug for hello AND goodbye? If one hug per encounter is enough, when is the perfect time to give a hug – as greeting or as goodbye? And then often I end up not hugging, because I thought about it so much that I missed the window of opportunity. So, it’s not that I don’t like hugs – I’m just incredibly aware of and discreet about another person’s space. But if you give me a clear sign that it’s okay to hug, I will happily return the gesture of appreciation 😃 A friend of mine always asks beforehand “Can I give you a hug?”. I think this straightforward but respectful approach is brilliant, and I want to try and adopt it as a less awkward habit. 😉

5) I think by now most people are aware of the fact that some people get tired from socializing and being around people. I try to take good care of myself in order to maximize my abilities to be open, loving and kind to the people around me. When I’m doing really good I will have the presence of mind to let you know that I need to go (home/to bed/to take a nap/to a sacred appointment with myself) before I get too overwhelmed and exhausted. But sometimes, I’ll get past that point – and I’ll just disappear. Sometimes I just have to put up instant boundaries and insert instant me-time. It’s nothing personal, and it’s not like you said something wrong; I just have to to do this in order to stay sane and healthy and respect my limits! *disappearing in a cloud of pink smoke*

I definitely have more outgoing and more introspective days, as we all do…those tendencies just may seem a little more extreme, since as a highly sensitive introvert everything in life is just a little more intense. I need more time to think, to rest, to be alone, to be comfortable; I can get pretty sad, or pissed off, or closed up; but I also laugh and giggle twice as much, love deeper than the ocean and are able to experience the biggest joy imaginable. Life’s just a little different for me. 😉

Know that the introverts in your life do love you very much in their own ways – even if they don’t always hug, kiss, tear jokes, say “I love you” or scream for joy 😃

Much quiet, gentle and soft-spoken love!

Paula