I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now but for some reason, I keep putting it off. I think it’s the idea of putting labels on myself that sends me running. You see, for most of my life, I called myself shy.
I was shy when I needed to approach someone, shy when it came to making friends, shy when it came to pretty much everything.
As I got older, more and more people would react with surprise to me calling myself shy. So slowly, after many confused faces, it dawned on me that wait a minute, I’m not shy at all.
How being SHY and being INTROVERTED differ
Being shy, is about being awkward about being around other people and about speaking up in front of them. Being shy is often associated with feelings of low self-esteem.
The American Psychological Association defines Shyness as;
“The tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people. Severely shy people may have physical symptoms like blushing, sweating, a pounding heart or upset stomach; negative feelings about themselves; worries about how others view them; and a tendency to withdraw from social interactions.
Most people feel shy at least occasionally. Some people’s shyness is so intense, however, that it can keep them from interacting with others even when they want or need to— leading to problems in relationships and at work.”
Much later in life than I should have, I discovered that what I am is not in fact shy but introverted and what a relief this discovery was to me. Suddenly it made sense that I was too loud mouthed and opinionated to be considered shy.
What is an introvert anyway?
So being introverted isn’t at all about being shy, in fact, it’s completely separate to being shy. People who are introverted just simply enjoy their own company and are okay not being the centre of attention. It doesn’t mean we can’t be, it simply means we see value in meaningful conversations with people whose opinions we appreciate and not necessarily with just anyone. Introverts are fully capable of going to parties and having a good time, we aren’t necessarily wall flowers sitting in the corner. We know how to socialise as good as any extrovert does. The difference? we need time to recover afterwards and we do so by spending some time alone. We enjoy our own company and the thought of quiet and alone time refreshes us instead of scaring us to death. Put simply, we enjoy our own company and need to spend time alone. Introverts are usually quite thoughtful and self-aware and are fully capable of being gregarious but usually only choose to be so around people we know well.
I am proudly an introvert
- I prefer having a small group of friends that I’m close to rather than a huge group of friends that I only know on the surface level.
- I’m fully capable of speaking in public but I would prefer not to address an entire room full of people. However, if need be, I can do it but will probably spend the next week hiding from the world.
- I don’t really enjoy meeting new people but I do value relationships with the friends that I have.
- People often judge me and label me as “aloof or rude”. I am neither. I just don’t feel the need to make small talk or beat around the bush.
- I have absolutely no desire to be extroverted. I don’t sit around wishing I was louder or more talkative and it’s definitely not on my to do list to become an extrovert.
People who are extroverted don’t understand that introverts are happy with who they are. They don’t want to learn the art of being extroverted, they probably never would anyway. Being introverted doesn’t make a person any less capable, we just don’t feel the need to announce loudly just how capable we are.