By: Eleanor De Bruin
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Why Shopping is Torture for Introverts

If the thought of going shopping fills you with dread, you might just be an introvert. Shopping can be torture for introverts for so many reasons. Here are some of the worst things about shopping, if you’re an introvert (and luckily there is a solution):

1. Going to a place

You have to go a place and there are people there. And you have to wear clothes. Not even comfy clothes either, because it’s absolutely guaranteed that if you pop to the supermarket for milk wearing trackies and with toothpaste in your hair you will bump into your ex or your most attractive friend. Guaranteed.

2. Bumping into people you know

Obviously, if at all possible, you hide. I’m talking about plain old ducking behind a display or diving into a clothes rack kind of hiding. Wait for danger to pass.

If actual physical hiding is not possible, introverts have perfected the ‘in deep thought, focused on something far away’ look as we sail past without acknowledging people. That is, until some annoying extrovert forcibly draws your attention by calling your name, at which point you’re obliged to enact a very unconvincing ‘Oh sorry! Didn’t see you there! Gosh, I was miles away!’

3. Bumping into people you know a second time

So they caught you crouching amongst the courgettes and you had the polite conversation and then sailed off in relief and now you’ve rounded the corner in the supermarket and there they bloody are again. Your only options now are either to leave altogether (problematic, see point 10) or to hide properly for a sustained period of time. Anything to avoid the cringingly awkward second hello, with obligatory remarks such as, ‘Hello again!’ ‘Are you following me?’ and the classic ‘Fancy seeing you here!’

4. Proximity to people

It’s not just the ones you know, either. Shops are full of people. They’re everywhere. They’re browsing the exact rack that you’re trying to browse, causing silent wars as you swish clothes from each end of the rail, getting closer and closer to one another. They’re returning ten thousand items at the only open checkout or paying in coupons they’ve saved since 1991. They’re scrutinising the ingredients list of baked beans like they’re trying to crack a hidden code. Urgh, people.

5. Inability to ask for help

Being an introvert means that you can’t ask a member of staff or even a helpful nearby long-armed shopper to get that thing on a high shelf for you, so you just have to stare sadly up at the item and resign yourself to never owning it. If a staff member asks you if you need help, you’ll automatically say ‘I’m fine thanks’, even if you do actually need help.

6. Having to ask to try stuff on

You’ve attempted to hold the clothes up next to you and stretch them out armpit to armpit like your mum used to do but it’s no good, you’re going to have to ask the dreaded question:

“May I be semi-naked in your store and try this on without shoving it in my handbag?” you ask the store clerk. Or that’s what ‘May I try this on please?’ feels like to you, anyway. You envy people who can return things as that way you could try on at home, but introverts are physically incapable of returning goods. Even if it’s a toaster that catches fire and burns your house down, you’re scared of seeming rude.

7. Sensory overload

The ideal environment for an introvert is at home, under the duvet, watching repeat episodes of Friends (repeats = no surprises – introvert gold). Definitely not in a big building filled with people moving and talking and bright, bright lights, vivid colours, eyegrabbing displays and stuff – stuff everywhere and things beeping, doors swishing, alarming alarms that can randomly go off… honestly just thinking about it makes us want to reach for that duvet.

8. Chatty checkout operators

You’ve got the goalposts (i.e. big swooshy doors) in sight, but there’s one major hurdle still to clear: the checkout operators. If it wasn’t physically impossible to pack a bag with one hand, the introverts would all be on their phones (pretending to have a conversation – we don’t actually talk to people on the phone are you crazy?) but as it’s not you have to endure the small talk. You have to think of the right answers to hard questions like ‘Is it still raining out?’ and quiver with fear as they scan any vaguely personal product in fear they’ll comment on it (‘New pants eh? Gone up a size have you?) and then not trusting your bank accounts to not have spontaneously emptied themselves and feeling a surge of relief when your card doesn’t get declined and you’re free to go.

9. Self service checkouts

Now, in theory the self service checkout, otherwise known as the ‘not in the mood for human interaction checkout’ is a godsend for introverts. You don’t have to talk to any other humans and you get to pretend to be a checkout operator and make the fancy beep noise with the barcodes. But then there’s that horrifying moment of ear-splitting silence when you flail it with increasing urgency and it won’t beep. Or the dreaded ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ and the thing starts flashing and the voice says ‘Help is on the way’ and the supervisor starts walking towards you… Noooooo, introvert fail.

10. Trying to leave the store nonchalantly

The worst is, if it’s all going to pot, introverts can’t even just walk out of a shop. You have to walk out in such a way as makes it clear to any nearby security members that you didn’t steal anything (having never stolen anything in your life but feeling like guilt is written all over your face) and with your face arranged in a way that you hope conveys to the shop owner that you love everything in the shop, and that it’s not them, it’s you.

Fortunately, there is a wonderful invention that prevents all of the above: online shopping! It’s no coincidence that introvert and internet are almost the same word. Thanks to the wonderful worldwide web you can shop from home in your pyjamas and not have to talk to a soul. You can even have food sent to your house and gifts sent to other people’s houses (hint: mugs, posters and other home-based treats are great gifts for introverts, if your friends are similarly inclined) and with a bit of skill you can just stay under a duvet all weekend.

  • Bethany Kerr Reynolds

    OMG! That’s so me! I even had friend ram his shopping cart into mine to get my attention! Little did he know I was trying to avoided eye contact!LOL