I keep a small circle. Not intentionally – in many ways I am socially inept. It’s not that the process of forming and maintaining friendships eludes me, I just can’t get comfortable with people. Not the first time we meet, nor the second, third or forth. Maybe the fifth time we meet I will feel comfortable with you. Maybe at some point between 10 and 20 we will become friends. But probably not because I rarely initiate conversations and I definitely won’t ask you to hang out.
I’m not antisocial, I’m an introvert, and if left to my own devices I would probably never make friends. Yet, against all odds, over the years I have made several friends; good people who I am grateful to know, with many of whom I will remain friends for the remainder of our lives.
Actually, that’s a lie – I didn’t make my friends, my friends made me. If you are my friend reading this, you will recognize at least one of the qualities below as your own. The following are a list of special traits owned by those people who are so socially well adapted that they are capable of bonding even with one of nature’s most unapproachable beings – the human introvert.
I am an introvert, and this is why we’re friends:
1. You are positive.
With our critical disposition, introverts learn from experience how easy it is to relate with others over shared negative feelings, creating toxic friendships that do more harm than good. We are friends because you are a positive person who sees opportunities instead of setbacks, who is grateful for what you have and who sees the best in people.
2. You can find commonalities with anybody.
You have a special ability to discover the interests of others and to quickly bond on a common ground. Your conversations flow naturally and people are people very interested to talk to you. Because you find commonalities so naturally you are an easy person to trust.
3. You have high self esteem.
As mentioned in the introduction, I probably won’t reach out to you or ask you to hang out. It’s not that I don’t want to see you or talk to you, it’s just not in my nature. We are friends because you are confident enough not to take these things personally.
4. You are interested in what I have to say.
For introverts small talk is like Chinese water torture. We are friends because you indulge in my tendency to hold “deep” conversations and you are interested in my opinions, no matter how elaborate or obscure they may be.
5. Your personality has depth.
You’re not a shallow person. You don’t befriend people for social and material perks. You understand that your friends have a profound influence on your personality and you actively surround yourself with people whose influence will be positive.
6. You are honest.
Quiet, observant introverts become acutely aware of inconsistencies in the words and actions of others. Most of us have encountered the archetypal charismatic sociopath and are terrified of their existence. We are friends because you are a honest person who I can rely on.
7. You have a skill for bringing people together.
Introverts don’t mind meeting new people, we just aren’t good at it. You don’t exclude one group of friends to make plans with another, and you make an effort to introduce your friends so that they are comfortable around each other.
8. You are capable of just being yourself, even with complete strangers.
For introverts, great first impressions happen rarely. We conceal the nuances of our personality so that to strangers we appear boring. You act in public with a calming comfort in who you are, without trying to impress or deceive, allowing us to relax and open up to you more than to others.
9. You know how to read people.
Meeting an introvert requires making an initial judgment of our reserved nature. For many it’s “this person is boring and/or hates me,” and for some it’s “this person is quiet but seems interesting. I’d like to get to know them better.” We are friends because you were kind and patient enough to think the latter.
10. You are also an introvert.
This is rare, but it happens. You’re not loud, obnoxious or showy, and you can be at peace with your personality without having to project it constantly. We understand and respect each other. Let’s just hope we have extroverted friends in common to keep the conversation going.
To all my friends, thanks for getting to know me. It would be a lonely existence without you.