So without further a-do, here are some tips if you find yourself falling under the introvert category and want to find some balance and possibly make your hiking experience more enjoyable.
Chances are if you’re an introvert you’re not a fan of crowds. I personally get anxiety when I’m in places with large groups of people. Malls, amusement parks (yes Disneyland unfortunately), fairs and parties with people I don’t know are some examples. Hiking however has been a huge help with dealing with situations like this.
If you find yourself wanting to join group hikes but are nervous I encourage you to at least try it out a couple of times. Obviously when you’re out hiking you’re out in the open so as far as personal space you don’t have to worry about that. I have very rarely ran into situations where I felt my personal space was being invaded.
You’re in total control of who you want to hike with and how many people you want to be around. You can totally build up towards being comfortable with bigger hiking groups and just start off with smaller ones. Or you can opt out and trek alone. I find it always helps to have one or two friends you trust on trips to places like National Parks.
If you feel like you want to completely dodge the crowds when you’re visiting places with lots of tourists then my top suggestions are to plan very early days and possibly go when it’s off season. I love to feel like I have a whole trail to myself and my hiking buddies sometimes.
If you find yourself wanting to reach out and join a group then my best advice would be to go in with an open mind. There are a variety of people that you’ll meet. Some experienced and some just starting out. I slowly started branching out and meeting other girls online to hike with and I can promise it’s not as hard as it seems. Nobody is going to judge you if you’re a beginner. I always get excited when I hike with beginners because I remember how exciting it was to enter a whole new world.
Don’t think of hiking groups as something you should avoid just because you’re an introvert. Amazing things can happen when you leave your comfort zone.
Introverts tend to only speak when they feel absolutely necessary. This means we HATE superficial small talk. This also means we don’t have the best habits when we’re in social environments with people we don’t know.
Just recently I had to brush up on my people skills and reach out to strangers in Facebook hiking groups to find people to explore trails with. I moved to Arizona and didn’t know anyone besides my aunt out there. For a 24 year old introvert I still found the task of making new friends slightly daunting. I don’t know if it was a fear of not being liked or being rejected but this was a familiar obstacle that I ran into again in my young adult life.
Once I shut out the little voice of fear I was able to put myself out there and meet some really nice girl friends. It proved to me that not only could I leave my comfort zone but when I’m searching for positive people and experiences the universe will put them right in my path.
From meeting people online to coordinating and getting to know someone on a hike you’ll learn that small talk isn’t so scary once you have a lot practice. These are skills that you will inevitably find yourself using over time in other social situations and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to talk to people.
Introverts don’t tend to have a lot of friends partly because we find it exhausting and mostly because we are picky. I have found over time that I love interacting with people and getting to know people but they’re aren’t a whole lot of friends I am super close to.
I still have people from my childhood who I am friends with but I have made some really special friendships through hiking. I instantly know when I meet new people to hike with that we have a similar passion for nature and I know I’ll have a connection with them. It’s a beautiful thing.
The phrase “your vibe attracts your tribe” rings true for me. This passion has helped me to be open to positive relationships and I have noticed over the last few years that I no longer have room for in-authentic friends. I would much rather surround myself with people who help me appreciate life. And that’s exactly who you’ll find out on the trails.
My favorite part of hiking is how it makes you stay in the present moment. When I’m focused on my surroundings and capturing pictures while I’m hiking it’s hard to not be present in the now.
As an introvert I find when I’m not active I can easily get carried away in my thoughts. Often this leads to me shutting out everything else going on around me.
I feel this is a bad habit of mine that fuels my anxiety because if I’m not appreciating the present I am usually thinking about my past or future. I don’t want to be so busy focused on what has or hasn’t happened that I’m missing out on what’s happening right in front of me.
Hiking has helped me to quiet those anxiety filled thoughts and it’s taught me to soak up every beautiful moment and really appreciate life as it’s happening.
I hold the phrase “Don’t ever wish to be someone you’re not” very close to my heart. Being an introvert does not mean you are anti-social, hate people or are stuck up. It just means you connect with people differently.
Just like me you probably crave meaningful friendships and are careful about what you spend your energy and time on. Hiking will give you all those positive experiences plus more! It’s an activity that recharges me and is now my go-to stress reliever. Nature is where you can find balance and yourself.
Don’t ever let someone scare you away from trying something out just because it may not seem like ‘your thing’. You only get to live this life once and you shouldn’t let fear stop you from exploring what’s out there!