Ever feel like an introvert at the school gates?

Are You An Introvert?

I’ve always thought of introverts as being wallflowers. Shy, quiet and preferring their own company.

I’m certainly no wallflower. I’ve got plenty of friends, have a very loud voice and have been known to dance on tables after a few tequilas.

But I’ve got introverted tendencies that have taken me years to understand.

Back in high school I’d enter the huge noisy lunch room, clenching my tray and trying not to look desperate as I searched for someone to sit with.

The Jocks all sat together and as a cheerleader I had rights to sit at their table. But gossip and superiority have always given me the creeps and I never felt comfortable there.

My eyes would scan the room, hoping to find a friend dining alone so I wouldn’t feel intrusive for breaking up a conversation. My stomach was in knots and I felt like everyone could see straight into my awkward soul in those painstaking moments of trying to figure out where to sit.

I get those same pangs now as I approach the school gates when I collect my kids some days.

Mothers all talking and laughing in small groups. My chest clenches up the same way it did in high school as I scan the crowd, trying to look nonchalant – or busying myself on my phone.

Joining in on a group in progress still feels stupidly daunting to me.

Some people are great at small talk. I can find it painful.

I can talk to a hairdresser about the weather or my next holiday for exactly five minutes before I have to bury myself in a magazine for the duration of the appointment.

I much prefer one on one’s than group gatherings.

I’ve had incredulous reactions when I’ve declined invitations for girls nights out or weekends away. No one can figure out why I wouldn’t want to join in on the fun.

For years I didn’t understand it either. Why was I the only one who this didn’t find being part of a posse of girls even remotely appealing? I didn’t even want a hen night before my wedding.

I prefer to truly connect with just one person at a time and talk about things that really matter to me, rather than gossip or idle chit chat.

This must be why I’ve gained so many incredible friendships with individual females. Most of my closest GFs know of each other but haven’t actually met each other.

Six years ago I found myself in a pickle.

I’d heard about a four week course on Life Coaching for Mothers and invited a close girlfriend to join me. She had to decline, so I invited another close friend who excitedly accepted.

Then Friend One got back to me and said she could come after all. I felt bad that I’d jumped the gun and invited my other friend so soon. It was awkward having to tell them both that there’d be a third person there they didn’t know.

I feared it would change the dynamics of what I was looking forward to the most. I’d wanted to share the experience with a friend, using the journey there to catch up and then have lunch afterwards to dig deep into what we’d learned.

For me, our first car ride there as a threesome was awkward. Instead of having a great catch up with one friend, I felt I had to be the moderator and help them to get to know each other.

But the course was fantastic and the three of us walked out buzzing with excitement. There was no question that we all wanted to have lunch and talk about what had just happened.

And I needn’t have worried that they wouldn’t open up to each other. That day kicked off what was to become my incredible Power Posse that’s still going strong – seven years later.

These two amazing women ended up being my founding partners in Project Me and I owe them so much gratitude!

Last week I did something I’ve never done in my life.

I went on a girlie getaway to Ibiza with a group of 12 other women!

No we did not go clubbing or get drunk and flirt.

It was the first ever Project Me retreat! I felt completely comfortable amongst this group of incredible, like-minded women.

It felt authentic and awesome! We did yoga, went on gorgeous, scenic hikes, ate yummy food and openly shared to our hearts content.

We also explored how to be the Best Versions of Ourselves when we returned back to our busy lives back home.

I’m finally beginning to understand and accept my introverted tendencies.

I still cherish my one on one friendships, but I’ve found there’s a place in my life for posse’s too.


Thank you Cathy Cassani Adams of Zen Parenting for the article you wrote over two years ago for The Daily Love which first got me thinking about all of this. I remember a wave of relief that I was not some kind of awkward social weirdo after all!   http://thedailylove.com/myths-about-introverts/

I also loved this TedTalk by Susan Cain called The Power of Introverts:  http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts


In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you think? Do you thrive in a group, or do you prefer one on one company?


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  1. Helen Butler on April 27, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    I am a full on introvert Kelly! Thankfully according to my Myers Briggs profile I sit firmly on the introvert/extrovert fence – which is *very* helpful with my work! But the only way I can be my best me is to retreat to my sanctuary (aka my home) and spend some serious alone time with myself and my family. Living an extrovert life is exhausting for me and can take me weeks to get over!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      I hear you on sitting on the introvert/extrovert fence Helen as I certainly couldn’t run my workshops if I weren’t able to come out of my shell as needed! But even on this retreat I had to spend plenty of alone time on my (very lovely) private terrace just to have that quiet time to myself each day. I love how you said ‘alone time with my family’ as I cherish that too. When life feels too social, I get overwhelmed and my home truly is my sanctuary.

      Thanks for your lovely comment Helen 🙂

  2. Louisa on April 27, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    Funny, I don’t imagine you as an introvert at all, Kelly. I am very similar. I’m also right on the fence on the Myers Briggs E/I scale. Like you, I can have fun with the girls, and I can be loud and silly at times, but mostly I prefer the deep and meaningfuls of one-to-one friendships. And, like both you and Helen said, if I have too much time with others, I find I need to treat myself to some quality time alone! As I get older, I’m learning to honour and accept myself more and I don’t try so hard to fit in -which makes my friendships feel more genuine and fulfilling. I’ll be a full-on yogi-wisewoman when I’m 80 dammit. 😉

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 3:21 PM

      You and Helen have me so curious now to take this test and find out my Myers Briggs score! How do I do that?

      I think the reason I’ve had such a hard time grappling with my moments of introversion is because no one expects it of me. To the outside world I often come across as very outgoing – and often times I do indeed feel very outgoing. But then I have my moments…. and this used to confuse me so much!

      I relate so much to what you’ve written here Louisa. Here’s to being yogi-wisewomen even before we’re 80!! 🙂

      • Louisa on April 28, 2015 at 7:54 AM

        Morning Kelly! I was about to locate a link to Myers Briggs for you, but I see someone’s done that further down. Really interesting and spot on in my case too. I’m an INFP/ENFP depending on the day (I’ve taken the test a few times and my I/E is borderline.) I just found an online description saying this: “Unlike other Extraverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they are moving in a direction which is in sync with their values.” Totally true for me. Love me a bit of over-analysis. 😉

        • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 28, 2015 at 8:52 PM

          That’s so fascinating Louisa! I also love a bit of over-analysis – ha ha!! I wondered if I may get a different score on a different day.

  3. Jan on April 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    I felt quite teary reading this blog Kelly …. Someone else gets it!! I am also an extroverted introvert! Love being with people, can sometimes struggle with groups (often feeling responsible for everyone’s happiness) and need that alone time to recharge. Great article and the retreat sounded blissfull!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      Jan I know how you feel because I got that same teary feeling when I first read Cathy Adams blog I linked to above. If you didn’t follow the link and read her post please do!!! She puts it better than I have here. I found great relief in reading it. xx

  4. Mariah on April 27, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Yep, I’m a big-time introvert too. I used to get the same feelings as you, Kelly, while in the lunchroom…worried about who to sit with. And I still struggle with this as we recently moved to a small(er) town and EVERYbody is from here. I am absolutely an outsider so it’s been difficult to make friends since everybody has had their friends since high school. Luckily as an adult it doesn’t bother me since I’m so busy with my biz and 4 kids 😉 Glad I’m not alone in my feelings!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 8:38 PM

      That does sound challenging Mariah! I read a great book last year called ‘Friendships Don’t Just Happen’ which you’d find really useful in your situation. It’s a great take on making new friends as an adult and as a direct result of reading it, I made two new great friends 🙂

  5. Kelly Jayne McCann on April 27, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    I love this post Kelly! I can totally relate. I am an introvert through and through (though weirdly I like being in front of groups). For years I thought there was something wrong with me. Everyone else seemed to enjoy going to mixers and group networking events. It was torture for me. Not only that, I felt fraudulent – I was playing an inauthentic role and I am sure it showed. And the whole girls night out…I failed at that too!

    Now I accept who I am. I groove on one-on-one and small group interactions of truly like minded souls, where the connection feels real and I can show up as me, not some contrived version of who I think I should be (loathe those ‘shoulds’!).

    Like Helen (BTW- love your work!) and Louisa, my alone time is heavenly. I definitely need regular recharging.

    Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with us. We just jam to a different beat!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 8:40 PM

      Loved your entire comment Kelly! I know what you mean about being an introvert sometimes.. but then being ok doing public speaking!

      There is definitely nothing wrong with us. We need a t-shirt that says I jam to a different beat! Love it 🙂

  6. Marcia Francois on April 27, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    Kelly, go do your MBTI test at http://www.16personalities.com and let us all know.

    I’m an ESTJ which is an extrovert but I have an intimacy outlier which means I prefer connecting 1:1 but have no trouble with big groups:)

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 10:27 PM

      Marcia – huge thanks for that link! I’d tried to google this info, but nothing brought me any clarity until this quiz!

      So I am a ENFJ which I haven’t had time to fully investigate yet, but it says:

      ENFJs are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are often times our coaches (!) and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. With a natural confidence that begets influence, ENFJs take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community.

      It also says I will truly open up with my closest friends. True 🙂

      I look forward to diving deeper into my results and am very tempted to purchase the more in depth report now… Thank you again!

  7. Deb on April 27, 2015 at 9:02 PM

    Yes! I can totally relate too! I am right on the fence for Myers Briggs as well and I completely resonated with all that you wrote. Thanks for laying it out so well…it helps me understand myself better.

    While there is a part of me that needs to come home to re-group and re-energize, the part about the small talk has had me curious. I am not sure whether that falls on the introvert/extrovert scale. I find small talk painful as well…I like to go deep fast. I like to find a way to really connect rather than superficial connect. Is that indicative of introverts or a whole other characteristic. Perhaps they are connected?

    Well, either way, it’s still awesome to read this and feel “seen and understood” – not just by you, but in the comments too!


    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 27, 2015 at 10:29 PM

      I’m loving this comments thread too Deb! So much extra food for thought now… Including what you’ve said here about small talk and whether that’s an indication of introvert or extrovert?! Thanks so much for joining in the discussion 🙂

  8. Christine on April 28, 2015 at 1:06 AM

    Kelly, it’s really hard to think of you as an introvert at all! It’s comforting to know there are so many of us introvert-extroverts out in the world.

    I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert depending on the day, I guess. (My husband thinks I’m a total extrovert!) I really enjoy meeting people, and I’ve become more open each time I’ve moved internationally over the past decade. I’m still always in awe of women who just know everyone and have charisma that draws people to them like honey. That’s amazing to me!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 28, 2015 at 8:44 PM

      I’m feeling very comforted too Christine! I’ve also moved twice internationally and I can also relate to your extroversion / introversion depending on the day. We both just need to accept and love ourselves for exactly who we are 🙂

  9. Beck on April 28, 2015 at 1:43 AM

    Great post, Kelly! I struggled with my introvet/extrovet tendencies for years too until I read somewhere (wish I could remember where!) that introverts re-engerise from time alone, whilst extroverts get energy from interacting with people. That really clicked with me. I love spending time with my family and friends and I would certainly define myself as social. But after a while I feel a bit mentally tired and edgy. After some alone time I feel good again. The surprising thing for me was this extended to my husband and kids too, in that I get that same edgy feeling spending extended times with my own family. I thought that maternal instincts would override these sort of tendencies! For me this realisation has meant I try to carve out some regular alone time each day, even just for 10 minutes by getting up before everyone else. If I do that I am a much happier, patient and productive mum, wife and co-worker! 🙂

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 28, 2015 at 8:47 PM

      That TOTALLY clicks with me Beck! Thanks so much for sharing that. Like you, I definitely regain my energy by having ALONE time. I can so relate to feeling edgy around my own family if I don’t get it and they all respect that weekend mornings I don’t show my face until I’ve had a lie-in and a date in bed with my journal.

      I also get up a bit before the kids on school mornings to have some ME time before I need to interact with anyone and it makes such a positive difference!

  10. Tina on April 29, 2015 at 11:43 PM

    I loved your blog, Kelly, and really clicked with what everyone described. Me too I prefer one-on one and small groups, but also enjoy parties and big groups – just really need my time to recharge from them. I am just reading a great book on the topic: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
    It really helps to understand and cherish our introvert tendencies, and it points out how many great inventions and how much research have been made by introverts, because of the way introverts function, listen to others,
    Reflect etc. They can often be great leaders, because they don’t rely on their charisma but listen to others and encourage their input.
    I was a bit surprised though to hear about your introvert tendencies – you are so bubbly, chatty and confident – but it’s true – you don’t do small talk, you really connect with the people around you! I want to do this test now…

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 30, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      I’m so glad you liked it Tina and it’s fascinating to read your own experiences with this as well as your insights from reading Susan Cain’s book. (I linked to het great Ted Talk above, yet haven’t read the book.)

      Here’s to cherishing our introverted AND extroverted sides 🙂

  11. Julie Marah on April 30, 2015 at 6:07 PM

    Love this article Kelly and can completely relate! This line especially resonated: “I prefer to truly connect with just one person at a time and talk about things that really matter to me.”

    Most of my friends don’t know each other either and I enjoy having individual friendships.

    However, I do enjoy parties, find networking much easier than I expected to and like you, have been known to dance on tables after a few vinos (then my inner extravert really comes out to play! :-))

    Very thought provoking read – thank you!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 3, 2015 at 12:26 PM

      Thank you Julie! Funnily enough, just last night I was the first one who jumped up to dance when the DJ played a song I love during dinner in a restaurant. I couldn’t seem to help myself! It kicked off a whole room full of boogiers! (is that a word?)

  12. Vicki Knights on May 1, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    I loved reading this article yesterday Kelly and it keeps popping back into my mind,…it has really got me thinking! I always consider myself an extrovert. I don’t mind being by myself at all, but I definitely feel more energised when I am around other people. But I totally related when you talked about feeling nervous when walking up to a crowd of people – I still arrange to meet a friend outside a party like a teenager so I don’t have to walk in alone! And if I’m on holiday with a group of people I sometimes need to disappear just to have a moment by myself.

    And like you I have lots of individual friends rather than a big group that I see regularly. I would generally rather share a bottle of wine with one close friend and have a really good catch up, than go for a night out with a group. So maybe that means I am more of an introvert than I thought?

    With me, it depends on the people I am with. Some training I once did referred to people as pot-fillers or pot-drillers. The first being those who fill you with energy and inspiration, and pot-drillers are those people that after a few minutes of talking to them you feel like your energy has been zapped (we all know a few of them!) So if I’m around pot-drillers then I feel like an introvert as I just want to get away and be by myself, but when I spend time with pot-fillers I feel fantastic and energised. Does that make sense?

    I really need to do this Myers Briggs test that lots of people have mentioned!

    Thanks for writing this, it’s been really interesting for me to learn that I do in fact have a few introverted tendencies!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 3, 2015 at 12:23 PM

      Yes – that totally makes sense Vicki! (About introverted tendencies creeping in and out depending on the situation – and about pot-FILLERS making you feel energised!) I hadn’t heard that analogy but it resonates with me too. Glad this has given you food for thought. This whole comments thread has given me loads more to consider, so thanks for yours 🙂

  13. Pam on May 12, 2015 at 6:01 PM

    Hi Kelly,

    I think I fall somewhere in the middle…I think it’s amazing that you had a retreat with 12 other women. I can’t wait to hear more about it. xo

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 12, 2015 at 6:36 PM

      I think falling somewhere in the middle feels pretty nice Pam! The retreat was SO wonderful! We all stayed in a villa in Ibiza in the gorgeous countryside surrounded by peace and nature. 8am yoga every morning. Breakfast cooked by a private (and rather sexy male chef…). I ran a workshop at 11am each day where we explored how to be our best selves back on home turf, which areas of our life need some focus and what steps we can take.

      Then we went hiking! Gorgeous spring scenery! Back to the villa to chill by the pool (or have a Reiki or Reflexology session) Healthy vegetarian dinners. A blind folded trance dance one evening (we were in Ibiza after all!). A guest speaker on EFT (Tapping). And so much more, but you get the idea 😉 Can’t wait to do another!

      • Pam on May 12, 2015 at 7:15 PM

        It sounds heavenly! Wish I was there!

  14. […] of the introvert– extrovert scale. It definitely depends on the situation and whom I’m with. I wrote about my introverted tendencies here before I’d taken the test and when I was still struggling to understand this about […]

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