Dear Extroverts (An Honest Letter from an Introvert)

olive chan —  April 25, 2012 — 32 Comments

[This post is in response to my friend, Amelia’s, post entitled “Dear Introverts (An Honest Letter from an Extrovert).”  It is the first in a series of posts about My Introvert Life.]

Dear Extroverts,

You amaze me.  Your outgoing friendliness, your capacity for life and people, your sheer energy!  I’m fascinated by the way you can go from engagement to engagement without taking a break.  And how you never seem to be at a loss for words.

dear extrovert (an honest letter from an introvert)I must confess, when I see the ease with which you operate in the world, I am often envious.  You just don’t seem fazed by all that happens.  And you command attention so easily.  I’m jealous of how you can move so quickly and accomplish so much in a day.  The world does seem to be made for people like you.

I must also say I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I keep declining your invitations.  Please know that when I do so, it’s not because I don’t like you.  I’ve probably just had a very full week and need some time on my own to refill my energy tank.  It often pains me to say “no” to you.  I fear that one of these days, I’ll have turned you down one too many times and you won’t be my friend anymore.  Or that I’ll miss out on some fantastic experience.

I’m sorry, too, for making you feel awkward by my silence.  It takes me a while to put words to my thoughts.  It’s scary for me to start speaking without knowing the complete thought I want to express.  In most cases, I probably have something to say – if you just wait long enough for me to gather my thoughts.  Or, if you give me a heads up and mention it to me beforehand, I can mull things over in advance.  You probably wouldn’t believe this, but most times, I will rehearse a phone call in my head before I dial your number.  And after we hang up, I’ll replay our conversation twenty times in my head, thinking of better things I could have said.

I often find myself wishing I were more like you.  Sometimes I resent my need for so much sleep and time alone.  I feel so limited and needy.  I dislike the fact that I often have to pare down my to-do list to one or two things a day and learn to be satisfied with that.  I also wish it didn’t take so much effort to get out of the house.  At conferences, parties and meetings, I sometimes take refuge in the quietness of the bathroom.  And then I feel silly, or think I’m a bad person for skipping out on things.

Oh, I’ve tried to be more like you.  For many years, I packed my schedule and attended every event.  The results were disastrous.  I had to take a year of medical leave to recuperate.

I’m learning though.  I’m learning that being able to sit in stillness is a gift.  And that my limits are also a gift.  I’m learning to be more bold with what I have to offer the world; to speak louder when I do decide to talk.  I’m learning, too, that I can appreciate your strengths without needing to possess them myself.  Because in the end, we all need each other.  And you inspire me to take more risks in life.

I do really appreciate when you initiate with me though.  Picking up the phone is a bit scary sometimes, so it’s nice when you call.  I apologize in advance though if you get my voicemail…  My phone is sometimes on silent(!)

Thanks for bearing with me.

Your dear, mysterious, and quiet friend,


Interested in learning more about Introverts? Here’s a few books we recommend:

The Introvert's Way The Introvert Advantage Quiet Introverts in Love


photo credit: a.drian
  • art

    Good job Olive…it’s not common for an Introvert to recognize that they are one. It’s helpful for other introverts to hear what you go through.

    • olivechan

      Thanks, Art! I appreciate your encouragement.

  • Alicia

    Olivia, BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • Rosanne

    great post! two things: “I will rehearse a phone call in my head before I dial your number.” and “My phone is sometimes on silent(!)” … they made me smile, they are so me and I never even thought of them as being very telling about my introversion :)

    • olivechan

      Thanks, Rosanne! It’s nice to know we are not alone in the way we approach life. :)

  • EnergyVampireSlayer

    This seems like it was written by an extrovert with social phobia, rather than an actual introverted person. The sycophantic, boot-licky nature of it makes me want to hurl.

    • I live with this woman and I can assure you that she is definitely introverted. Though I wonder if there could be such a thing as an extrovert with social phobia…

    • Aquaria

      Way to be a classic clueless extrovert!

      Introverts don’t have social phobia, moron. It’s an ENERGY matter. Introverts get their energy from being alone, thinking things over on their own, taking time to process information, and so on. Extroverts need people to function and feel energetic, silly as that is.

      What Introverts definitely don’t need is your stupid, shallow judgmental filth.

      Take it and shove it.

  • Mariah Mcmillian

    Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m envious of extroverts, but I do find them fascinating. I “miss” phone calls all the time lol. No one calls me much anymore. It’s a very bittersweet issue.

    I’ve turned to blogging about my introversion because it’s a subtle way to let the people in my life know that I’m not ignoring them. I also find it helpful to stay connected to friends and family with letters because writing is so much more comfortable for me anyway. Texting was also a life saving event in my life.
    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve spread it all over the web hee hee. Bookmarking now :)

    • I can identify with you, Mariah. Writing is my preferred form of communication as well. And text messaging is pretty much how I keep in touch with all my friends! Glad you enjoyed this post. :)

    • olivechan

      I can identify with you, Mariah. Writing is my preferred form of communication as well. And text messaging is pretty much how I keep in touch with all my friends! Glad you enjoyed this post. :)

  • K

    While I can appreciate this individual perspective, I must say that it is certainly not descriptive of all introverts. I am very introverted and not at all envious of extroverts. I dislike the noise, chaos, and disorder of extroversion. I love the time I have alone or with one or two other people and truly believe that my introversion and desire to spend time with thoughts rather than other people is a strength. As is the habit of thinking before speaking. For me, introversion is quite preferable. I can, however, see how extroversion would be just as pleasing to the extrovert.

    I just wanted to point out that there are introverts who are very calm, happy, independent people with no desire to be extroverts.


    • olivechan

      Thanks for your perspective, K. I really appreciate your voice in this discussion as my view of the world is limited (and I don’t presume to represent all introverts). I’m so glad that you are comfortable with your introversion. I think the world can use more people like you.

    • i whole-heartedly agree, k. i used to envy extraverts but have grown to embrace and thoroughly enjoy my introverted tendencies. i, too, dislike noise, chaos and lunacy of a room full of extraverts. though, it can be a struggle to muster up the strength and energy to talk, etc. at conferences, events, etc. i’m like olive in that i will hide in a corner or the bathroom but then feel stupid for having done so. but, still, i love being me.

  • bethany

    Are you another me?! :) This post was really great. I’ve felt much of this for a very long time. It’s really good to be at a place where I’m starting to get more comfortable in my introverted skin and not feel like something’s wrong with me. Thanks!

    • olivechan

      Bethany, I’m so glad that you’re starting to be more comfortable with the way you’re wired. It takes a while for some of us, but good for you for recognizing you’re exactly the way you’re supposed to be!

  • Ana

    This letter looks like it was written by me. lol

    great job!

    • olivechan

      Haha. Thanks, Ana!

  • I envy the extrovert in some ways. I wish I could be as easily accepted as they are. They seem to be put on a pedestal and everyone must fit into that mold. What a different world this would be if the introvert were treated with such greatness. I think neither is the answer, but to accept each as they are would be a great feat for society. I do feel I need more sleep, more down time, more quietness in my life. It’s how I function. I can relate also to feeling stressed out when I don’t and being unhealthy when I try to be someone I wasn’t made to be. I must implore you not to apologize though. You were made different just as the extrovert was made different. Just because you don’t pick up the phone and decline social events does not make you the lesser person. It just means you are different. We can learn from one another — sure the extrovert can learn from us introverts and visa versa. Maybe its good to be alone at times, but also good to expand our horizons and try new social activities too. Either way, neither of us are wrong for doing so.

    • olivechan

      Michelle, thanks for sharing your experience. I agree with you that society would do well to accept both types of people, learn from each other and celebrate each other’s strengths. I’m learning not to be apologetic for who I am – it’s a journey but I’m getting there. Thanks for reading, and for leaving your thoughts!

  • Lisa Ting

    Just reread this one, for fun. It’s reassuring to know that others also hide away in the bathroom! It took me thirty years to recognize that my tolerance for noise amid strangers is no more than ninety minutes. I pop into a happenin’ party, greet the host, engage in one or two conversations with people I know at least a little, and then I disappear. And I don’t feel bad about it, either. :)

    • olivechan

      Lisa, thanks for stopping by again! I think there are days when my tolerance for noise amid strangers is closer to 5 minutes. Haha. So glad you’ve recognized your limits and aren’t ashamed of how you’re made!

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  • Catherine

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience as an introvert! I was amazed as I read down the lines, all the silly things you described which I don’t like about myself just come up one after another. Now I feel that I’m not alone. Sometimes when you live over thirty years of life, it feels silly and almost a luxury to talk about things like this as life is so hectic and busy. Thanks for speaking your heart…and mine too! It’s through genuine sharing like this that brings healing and self-acceptance : )

  • Shirley

    I wish I could send this to everyone past and present who thinks there is something wrong with me because I have turned down invitations. I have been called aloof and been made to feel unfriendly and unsociable which couldn’t be further from the truth. Thank you

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  • Young

    I couldn’t help but laugh a little. This post describes how I feel to the letter!

  • T

    Wait…this isn’t satire?!

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