How To: Play an Introvert
There are so many shy characters out in the RP world. I’ve seen them, played them, and played with them. Sometimes though, people forget that there is such thing as being introverted, rather than shy. Here’s to fixing that.
Also, this may have overlapping characteristics with social anxiety, but they are not the same thing. Here is an excellent guide on how to play a character with social anxiety. There are also similar traits in shy characters: at the beginning of this tutorial, it has some great pointers for shy characters. This tutorial goes slightly more in depth.
I think of introversion as a characteristic, however, there are many articles out there arguing that its a condition. If you care about the subject, I encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself. For my purposes here, I will treat it like a characteristic, and not a condition.
Introverts: As Real People
First off, an introvert is a noun, but people can also be introverted, which is a verb. Quick grammar lesson there. Second, the definition of an introvert is commonly either a) a shy, reticent, and typically self-centered person, or b) a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things. As an introvert myself, I find both those definition verging on offensive. My favorite definition I’ve come across is c) people who draw their energy from themselves, and being alone, than being in a crowd of people.
Often times, introverted people are shy or even socially anxious, but there are many ‘high functioning introverts.’ The difference between that, is how comfortable someone is around people. Someone shy can easily become comfortable around good friends, and want to hang out with them; no matter how friendly introverts get, from my experience, they will never choose to hang out with someone over being by themselves. Never. If they feel like they’re obligated to hang out with someone, they will force themselves to do it. Given the choice, they would rather be by themselves.
This does not mean introverts can’t have friends. In fact, introverts can be very friendly people; you might not be able to tell someone is introverted from first glance or even first conversation. Using myself as an example, at school, I am always talking to people, and I get yelled at in a few classes for doing so. However, once school ends, I go home and stay by myself until the next morning, when I force myself to go to school. To me, this is the major difference between being shy and introverted; shy people are afraid around people, in a general sense, while introverted people prefer not to be around people. Of course, it differs from person to person, but thats the general gist.
How to Play A Non-Shy Introvert:
Write what they says as though they are not introverted. sticking to the bio, of course. Introverts can be perfectly normal talking to people, and thats what gif chats generally represent. They will be able to hold up the conversation just as well as any other character. However, once the characters start planning to do something, a red flag will off. Unless explicitly asked, an introvert will not partake in any type of outing. When people mention plans to them, they will subtly avoid the subject; almost unconsciously. To further plots along, I suggest OOC messaging someone about the way the characters interactions will unfold, so that the other character can ask them. In the last five years, I’ve asked someone to hang out once. Sure, your character might say “that sounds like fun, I’ll get back to you when I’m free,” but in the end, they will never text back. Thats not a conscious thing; introverts so rarely want to hang out with people, the notion of making plans just doesn’t stick with them.
In situations where your character is forced to hang out with people, they could actually have a good time. In the beginning, make sure to use words that create a sense of uneasiness. Maybe they don’t reply to everything, or bite their nails more often as a nervous habit, for the first five replies or so. As the action develops, the character settles down and begins to enjoy themselves, for about one hour to two and a half hours. BAM! Suddenly a wall goes up; all they want to do now is leave. They’re made their piece, satisfied their commitment, and know they are off on their way to being alone again.At the end of a para, when the character is leaving wherever they were, try use words to convey a sense of relief.
Sadly, this means your character is not going to want to go to ‘movie night’ or on a field trip to a amusement park. This should not discourage you from trying though; it just takes a little more plotting. OOC message another character that is connected with your own, and find a way for your character to go. Maybe only one of their friends are going, and they don’t want to go alone, so they ask your character. Find a reason your character would be forced to go. Even if your character is a thrill seeker, they will not go to an amusement park with a group of people unless asked.
Most tasks are centered around your character, so being introverted wouldn’t affect much, It isn’t a ‘flaw’ or something to ‘fix’ about though.
They will feel uncomfortable in groups, from anywhere to 10 to 40 people. However, they don’t mind busy crowds, because they feel essentially by themselves
They will hate public speaking; this may mean in front of three people or in front of 100 people. They will also do anything to get out of speaking in public and I mean anything.
If the character is a high school student, they will hate raising their hand in class or getting called on. This may seem more shy, but in essence this is initiating conversation, something introverts shy away from.
If they see someone they find attractive, they are the type of awkwardly watch them out of the corner of their eye. 9 times out of 10, they will not do anything more than that, and feel disappointed in themselves for not initiating something.
For romantic connections; they will get attached quickly, and then it will seem like they lose interest, even if its not the case. There will be two turning points; when they seem to lose interest, and when they seem to regain their interest. This is just from their survival instinct to keep by themselves.
Similarly to shy people, introverted people will never want to talk on the phone. Never. Avoid that, and instead have them text.
How to Play A Shy Introvert:
Play them like you would normally play a shy character. The characteristics of shy characters and introvert characters are similar, with shy character containing most of the traits. Make them stutter, rush their words, etc. The links from the beginning are here too: at the beginning of this tutorial, it has some great pointers for shy characters. This tutorial goes slightly more in depth.
Whatever traits you want really, but common traits found in most introverts are:
Enjoys understanding details
Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding
Tends to keep emotions private
Quiet and reserved in large groups or around unfamiliar people
The key thing to remember is that introverts like to be alone. If you take anything away from this guide, please take away that.
Hope this guide helped!