Moving to a new country as an introvert is probably easier for us than it is for extroverts. We’re self-contained units who have spent our lives figuring out how to do things on our own. Alone is our happy place.
But we get peppered with questions from our extroverted friends and family who are concerned because really, they can’t fathom not having social contacts. When they ask, “But how could you move somewhere where you don’t know ANYONE?” they really are horrified. They have no idea that we’re just fine with it.
So, maybe this article is something you can pass on to reassure your concerned loved ones.
1. We don’t need the “stimulation” of a large social circle. In fact, a large gathering is draining for us, not energizing. We spend time at social events wondering how soon we can leave without being impolite and looking for out of the way spots to find some quiet. If we don’t have an escape plan going in, we are actively thinking of one while we politely nod and make affirmative noises to the person who WON’T STOP TALKING AT US. (Do you want to know how to talk to an introvert? Don’t.)
2. No, we haven’t been exploring every corner of our new city. Well, we have, but we’re not hitting the hot spots where “everyone” goes. We’re looking for out of the way restaurants, quiet bars, mom and pop shops. We will occasionally hit a trendy restaurant with a new friend or two. We go to the mall to get something we need and leave again. We’re at the beaches, on the trails, wandering back streets. Finding offbeat shops and places. But we’re not going out every night. We didn’t before we moved. We’re not suddenly going to become party animals just because we’re in a different location.
3. Stop asking if we’ve “made any new friends yet.” What are you going to do? Set up a play date for us? Introverts know how to make friends, but we distinguish between friends and acquaintances. We make friends organically, picking them up here and there as we go along. We tend to keep them, even if we’re separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. When I moved to a new town in Florida, I knew fewer than half a dozen people for the first couple of years, and at least three of them were the waitresses at a little family restaurant. When I left ten years later, I had one person in that town I called a friend, maybe two. And that’s fine. It’s about quality, not quantity.
4. Please don’t give out our contact information to friends who are thinking about moving or have moved to the country we’re currently in without asking first. We like to control who we talk to and when. And if. We’re not up for chatting with strangers at the drop of a hat. We’re not panicking over it; we’re mostly annoyed. Don’t do that.
5. We’re fine. Really. Introverts find each other. (I once found Danny Glover tucked into the same corner as I was at an event—and he was the guest of honor. Or maybe he found me.) We are self-sufficient. By the time we’ve reached a certain age we’ve figured out how to navigate the world. We can hold a conversation. We can ask strangers for directions when necessary.
Moving to a new country as an introvert is easier for us than for extroverts. We bring our own entertainment. We can keep our own company as we get used to the place. We can meet people as they come without any hurry and without rushing into relationships that may be too much too soon. We are happy to observe and see how things work before stepping into actually doing them. We can ask questions when we need to. And we’re really good at researching online.
So don’t worry. We’re fine. But we are a little worried about how you extroverts will do when you move. The good news is we’ll be there for you. You can find us in the corner.