I was in my forties before I realized being introverted was ‘a thing’… and more so that it was nothing to be ashamed of. But as much as I need time alone to recharge (just as extroverts need time with others to refuel their energy), I don’t want to totally remove myself from other people in my neighborhood.
Of course, the pandemic did this for us. After weeks and months in lockdown and keeping our distance from each other, it doesn’t feel natural to get back out there in the world. Even though masks, vaccinations, and booster shots are gradually giving us our world back, it just feels… easier, and safer, to stay at home.
Interacting for introverts
As an introvert, I still love interacting with others. I just do it on a way smaller scale than any extrovert would ever consider. No huge parties or BBQs, just a handful of friends or family members, usually no more than a half dozen. Any more than that and I start to feel overwhelmed.
None of that really dovetails with getting out in the community and being neighborly… or does it?
There are a couple of ways introverts like me can still enjoy the benefits of neighborhood interaction. You don’t need to be big and bold to do your bit. Sure, there are always people who organize huge events and grab the local headlines. But behind the scenes, you can always count on plenty of introverts doing far smaller – yet still hugely important – things in the community.
Taking the one-to-one approach
Life is about connections. Introverts find meaningful connections with others, but we tend to do it in a one-to-one way rather than in groups.
We had an elderly neighbor who became a good friend, someone we casually kept an eye on and saw every day. I popped in when she had a problem with her TV or to feed her cat if she was out for the day. And she popped in with a wind-up radio when we had a power cut! We do miss her.
Connections like this are as powerful and meaningful as those made with larger groups.
Finding activities that you’re passionate about
I’ve always found I can more easily become involved in activities I have a genuine connection to. It’s always easier to talk about stuff we’re passionate about. For me, this includes gardening, hiking, and the outdoors, so I guess that all rolls into one larger topic.
I’d struggle to get together with neighbors for a regular party as I’m not a music lover and I find loud music overwhelming. But stick me in a community garden to do some weeding with like-minded neighbors… now you’re talking.
Pandemic or no pandemic, it’s about finding ways to connect that mesh with who you are as a person. There are lots of ways to be neighborly. Community clear-up, litter picking, taking part in charity events… you name it. And there are lots of ways that we introverts can lift ourselves and our neighbors with stronger connections too. We just might need to dig a little deeper to find them.