How I deal with social overload as an introvert

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Nowadays I live in one of those big brownstone houses in Brooklyn together with other entrepreneurs.

Since I moved here, I’ve had the pleasure of making several new like-minded friends that also live in this house. Sometimes there’s actually too many fun activities and opportunities to socialize for an introvert like me.

I do love adventures like road trips and trying out new places to eat.

But I’m not the kind of person who wants to socialize ALL the time. What I really appreciate in my everyday life is those moments by myself.

Simply knowing that I COULD hang out with friends is sometimes fine with me. I don’t necessarily have to pick up on the opportunity.

Every morning I go to a park nearby to get some time with myself and hang out with my non-human friends, the squirrels.

introvert social overloadMe and Mr. Squirrel (Or is it miss? It felt awkward to ask)

Looking at animals can teach us stuff about ourselves.

Have you ever thought about how prey move in a very different way than predators do?

Prey (like squirrels and any other rodents) move around in a jerking manner – always on the lookout for danger.

Predators (like lions for example) move around in a more graceful way. They don’t need to constantly worry about dangers.

When we look at us humans, it gets interesting.

You see, we humans are interesting because we can do both. We can move around graciously or jerky depending on how we feel. If we’re uncomfortable, it’s like our inner squirrel comes out.

When you see someone who’s uncomfortable or lost, notice how that person, for example, turns their head faster than someone who’s confident. That’s a strong indicator of nervousness or stress.

Read more: How to get a confident body language.

Ever noticed how you become jumpier when you’re uncomfortable? Let me know in the comments!

David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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13 thoughts on “How I deal with social overload as an introvert”

  1. I also consider myself an introvert. I really enjoy reading about how you deal with introversion in a way that works for you, it’s helpful to me. My line of work requires constant nonstop interaction with different people which I deeply enjoy, but once I get home I just want to be by myself and my cat and relax ha.

  2. David, you are spot-on with that one! I love the squirrel analogy, it fits perfectly, as does the lion people who devour the squirrels… Learning how to deal with each other is very important. And sometimes the lions are actually squirrels in disguise.

  3. I always feel nervous, even with the people l know for some years. Standing in front of them to speak, l start to shiver and get confused. How it embarrasses me……….

  4. Sometimes I act like a squirrel even though I don’t feel like one. I often act shy or nervous when I don’t feel like interacting with people, because I don’t want them to think I have no reason why I don’t want to talk to them. I also worry that I can be intimidating or standoffish when I’m not saying anything, (which people have mentioned before) so that makes me nervous about being quiet. I get annoyed at myself for putting in so much effort to make other people feel comfortable all the time, though.

  5. In all honesty, I used to feel the same way as you do, David, but I’m no longer attached to the words “introvert” or “asocial.” To me, there are many ways to get around this feeling of getting “overwhelmed” by many social interactions, and I don’t think this actually happens or has ever happened to me. I used to think that my brain was wired to be introverted, but meditation and other mental health services have helped me to push this feeling of being introverted aside, and now my mood has improved significantly to the point where interactions would almost never tire me out. The reason some people may be getting “overwhelmed” or “drained” by a very social situation is probably because of an underlying mood issue or anxiety disorder, like I used to have as a teenager. I used to feel so resentful towards some of my peers, that I hardly ever wanted to interact with other people, which is obviously no longer the case. After I stumbled upon the word “introvert” when I was in high school, I came to think of it as being exactly who I was: an asocial introvert who views social interactions as very taxing on my brain. For that reason, I think I was just making excuses to not go out and meet with others, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with their drama. Nowadays, that just doesn’t seem true at all; I really enjoy having positive interactions with others who like me, since they tend to lighten my day almost instantly. Essentially, my teenage self was closing off many opportunities to interact with others, which was pretty much the cause of my “introvertedness,” feeling overwhelmed by anything overtly social, as a result. Perhaps introverts just have low energy levels, or they feel nervous or angry at certain people, deep down inside, so I’m not sure if they really introverted at all. However, I’m still comfortable being alone by myself, so I guess that makes me more of a social “ambivert” nowadays, as a 20-year-old college student. In my opinion, nobody is strictly either an introvert or an extrovert; it’s more of a spectrum of personalities.

  6. I don’t know that I’m a squirrel. Usually I feel more like a hawk in that I turn my head really fast at anything that interests me but also to quickly investigate possible threats. I actually never figured that that might come across as nervous but rather as either highly energetic in some situations or as guarded in others

  7. Haha, yes I feel like a squirrel some times. But instead of searching for nuts to collect I searching for Them so I can run from them like there where the predatore. the problem is that to that predator, Im the only squirrel in the room. And the rest of the group are lions. So the question is – are the rest of the lions going to protect me from this predator..? Do they have the compassion to help if i have a reaction?

  8. I get jumpier because I’m in the back of my mind I’m trying to avoid people. I say “in the back of my mind” because in a way I don’t want to avoid them, but if one has social anxiety, it’s just natural to be inclined to avoid them. And so if one is trying to avoid, then you suddenly see someone you get jumpy.

    That is an awww-some photo. However, I’m a bit envious. I’ve never had a squirrel come that close to me, and this in spite of my love of squirrels. I read somewhere that squirrels might have rabies and therefore you shouldn’t get too close to a squirrel? Perhaps that’s why no squirrel has ever come close to me. Who knows? LOL

    • Thank you for sharing Jean!

      As far as I know, squirrels/chipmunks don’t have rabies and they are so friendly here in NYC. Back in Sweden, I was super lucky to come within 10 feet of a squirrel.

  9. When I am nervous or insecure, I feel like I am the prey in a group of predators, and it gets really frustrating! It sometimes even feels like the people in the group can “smell” my fear and think less of me. I know I often exaggerate it in my thoughts, creating a vicious cycle, so I do my best to break it and become comfortable and unafraid, like a predator as you mentioned in your article 🙂


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