A while ago I was catching up with an old friend of mine back from university. We were chatting about what we’ve been up to when she looked at me with big eyes and said “I could never live such a life! I’m too much of an introvert!”. That got me thinking. Am I an extrovert? Is the digital nomad life really only for extrovert people? Or is it actually quite the opposite?
Definition Of Introvert People
Before we jump right into it we should probably have a quick look at the terms first. Often introversion is mixed up with people who suffer from social anxiety, which is not the same.
Whereas extroverts gain energy from other people and recharge by being social, introverts are quite the opposite. When they are being around many people for too long they lose their energy. That’s why they need time alone to recharge.
Introverts enjoy spending time alone in their homes, quiet parks or beaches or any other secluded place. That’s precious time to them. Events with big crowds tend to be intimidating, overwhelming and stressful. That does not mean that they don’t like other people, as many assume. They can be very social, love their friends and family and like being around them.
The interaction with others is in general not a problem at all. But they couldn’t be around too many people all the time as it draws down their energy. That’s why they need some time alone afterward to recharge.
Bring it to the next level…
It is often assumed that all introverts are shy people, which is not true. Some are completely fine with interacting with strangers and don’t have any difficulties with that at all.
Then again there are shy introverts. They like spending time to themselves, recharge their energy and feel insecure when approaching others. They wouldn’t necessarily go and talk to strangers, which also means they don’t go out and seek interaction. If they have to, they can deal with it. But they don’t feel entirely comfortable with it.
And another level…
Another assumption is that introverts all suffer from social anxiety, which is not correct either. People who fear interactions and social situations with others are a whole different level. They are scared of being judged negatively which results in feelings like humiliation and even depression. That’s why they prefer staying alone and avoid other people.
This kind of disorder has a significant impact on the patient’s life and should be treated. If you need more information on that please head over to the Social Anxiety Institute.
How Does Being An Introvert Affect The Digital Nomad Life?
Ok, now we know what being an introvert means. But how would that affect the digital nomad life?
I think it’s best to divide this part up into:
(1) the digital/work part and
(2) the nomad/travel part.
Simply because those are the two components of this lifestyle.
(1) The Digital/Work Part
Now, this is the great part for introvert people. Digital nomads work remotely. They don’t have to go to offices, no crowded public transport, no direct interactions with people if they don’t want to.
Living the digital nomad life you can easily work from home and avoid this kind of stressful situations. Depending on your job, you can work independently from others and can thus implement routines that help you energize.
The remote work makes it possible to communicate with your employer, clients or colleagues via a chosen electronic medium. Firstly, this usually restricts the time of energy-draining interactions. And secondly, that naturally keeps other people at a distant level, which often makes it easier for introverts.
But the working part of a digital nomad life can also have downsides for introvert people. If you want to work as a freelancer, you will likely have to look for new clients on a regular basis. That means applying for jobs, doing interviews and getting a kind of job training or orientation over and over again. Depending on your level of shyness, this might be stressful for you.
If that’s the case, try to find clients, who are willing to hire you for long-term positions or maybe an employer, who is ok with your working remotely.
Click here to find more than 60+ companies which are super remote-friendly.
(2) The Nomad/Travel Part
The traveling part of the digital nomad life can be a bit trickier for introvert people. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t, won’t or shouldn’t travel. Not at all!
Introverts are just as interested in other cultures and countries as extroverts are. They want to go out and make great experiences and once-in-a-lifetime-memories. They only might do it differently.
But that’s actually where the digital nomad life comes in handy. Digital Nomads are no hardcore backpackers. They take their time when traveling, usually stay a few weeks or months in one place before moving on. They are working a big portion of the day so they don’t rush from one sightseeing tour to another.
When you are free to schedule your working hours whenever you want you can also easily avoid big crowds at the most popular sights by going there, for example, on a Monday morning instead of a Saturday afternoon.
Digital nomads don’t stay in hostel dorms with many people around or do couchsurfing. They usually rent apartments for the time being where they have their own little private space. No need to spend 24/7 with other travelers in a dorm room. That’s perfect for introverts. They can go out on day trips and explore the region but always have a place to come back to and recharge.
But, of course, traveling has its downsides for introverts, too. Although you enjoy spending time alone and are completely comfortable with it, you do want to have at least some sort of interaction with others.
There are usually many events in every place where you get to meet new people. Or you can use coworking spaces. In case you are really shy that means you have to overcome your shyness every once in a while and force yourself out there. Otherwise, you will end up very lonely and hardly anyone really enjoys that.
Bonus For Introverted Digital Nomads
You are not the odd one out! Digital nomads are usually different from what “normal” people would describe themselves. Many of them never really fitted in somewhere. They strive for different things, want something else, maybe more. This is the perfect place for introverts.
If you go and meet other digital nomads for dinner and tell them afterward that you don’t want to go out for drinks now because you’d rather hang out alone on your couch, that won’t be a problem. If that’s what makes you happy, that’s cool. Go for it. At least I don’t know a single other digital nomad who would judge you for that.
Of course, there are always some exceptions. But the majority of digital nomads are very cool people to be around with, many of them are introverts, too.
Tips For Being A Introvert Digital Nomad
As you can see, living a digital nomad life as an introvert is not as hard as it may seem. However, there is always room for improvement, right? So let’s have a look at a few ideas that can help you with your new lifestyle:
1. Work From Public Spaces.
I know, I love working from home, too. But it’s nice to go out every once in a while, see something different, be around people. Coworking spaces or quiet cafés are a nice way of meeting people. You don’t have to work there all day every day. But it’s a nice way to socialize on a relaxed level.
2. Pick Social Events Wisely.
Instead of going to crowded markets or concerts where it’s hard to meet new people anyway, go for smaller activities. For instance, a language school is a great way to get in contact with people. There are small groups and everyone is in a similar position: they want to learn something new and might be a bit insecure, which means you are not the only one who feels a bit shy.
Or how about a yoga class? Great to socialize but it doesn’t draw down your energy level, quite the opposite.
3. Set Goals.
If you are introverted and shy you will find it hard to make friends in new places. Before you end up very lonely, set socializing goals. For example, say that you will go out and participate in any type of event at least once a week.
The website Meetup.com is a fantastic tool to find local get-togethers. Search for things like “digital nomads” or “remote workers” and see what pops up for your area.
Another way of finding events are Facebook groups. Simply search for groups like “New in Bangkok” or “Lisbon Events” or “Pilates in Barcelona” or anything like that and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of groups.
I know it can be hard to stick to those goals. But sometimes you just have to force yourself a little bit for your own sake. I can’t even remember how often I didn’t want to join a group for something and only went because they literally dragged me along. And I ended up absolutely loving it in 99% of the cases.
4. Learn To Say No.
At the same time, it’s important to learn to say no. Yes, that get-together might be the coolest one in history, but if your energy level is completely low and you don’t feel like it at all, you probably won’t enjoy it anyway.
Learn where your limits are and be confident to say no if you feel like you really should go home.
5. Listen To Your Instinct.
Our body is great with picking up external negative signals. It can sometimes feel negative things which seem to be completely rational and ok for our brain. Introverts are even more sensitive to this kind of feeling.
Learn to listen to your gut feeling. If you think you should avoid a certain place or a group of people for whatever reason, avoid it.
I feel like I mention meditation in almost all of my blog posts. Lol. Well, I guess that’s because meditation is such a fantastic way to calm your body and mind and recharge your energy storage within minutes.
When you are in a situation that appears to be overwhelming and stressful to you, simply move a few steps aside and meditate. That will help you move out of the busy market or loud crowd situation and gain some new energy.
7. Bring Tools.
A 20-hour bus ride in South America with the bus full of chatting locals and noisy kids can be very tough for an introvert. Or that super long train ride in a jam-packed train in India? A little nightmare, especially for introvert people.
Bring something that helps you to leave this stress behind. Noise-canceling headphones and your favorite music is an absolute must! Maybe also bring a journal and write down your feelings. Reflection is always a good idea. Or maybe you can open your laptop and do some work?
Think of anything that helps you leave the chaotic environment behind for a few minutes.
If you want to learn more about introversion and the underestimated strength that comes with it, I highly recommend the bestselling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. Very good read!
The Digital Nomad Life & Introverts: Great Combination!
Although living the digital nomad life as an introvert might seem to be hard at first sight, it is definitely not a bad combination at all.
Digital nomads work in a way that is highly profitable for introverts. They are independent, flexible and can work remotely from home. Perfect to manage your energy capacities in a way that works best for you.
The traveling part is not as bad as it sounds either. Digital nomads don’t move places too often. They usually rent an apartment, where they can go back and recharge anytime. They can avoid big crowds but still have plenty of opportunities to socialize.
Being an introvert and a digital nomad is not only possible but actually a great idea. If you are planning to live this kind of lifestyle in the future, try the mentioned tips. It is really not as tough as you might think. Chances are great, that you will thoroughly enjoy this kind of life.
How about you? Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does this affect the digital nomad life in your experience?
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