Being shy and being introverted are not the same.
However, they often overlap. I happen to be a bit of both.
Being shy means your fears hold you back from social situations you’d like to engage in. You long to join the group, to speak up in class, to be a part of the fun, but you’re scared to.
An introvert on the other hand, doesn’t always want to join the group. They’re happy to stay by themselves. They’d often rather work all day quietly than run around town socializing. Too much social interaction drains an introvert, they need time to emotionally recover and recharge.
Extroverts quite literally live their lives out loud. They think best when they can speak issues out loud to others. They thrive off of being around other people. The very social interactions that drain an introvert, energize an extrovert. While introverts love to sit alone and think, extroverts would rather talk to strangers.
An introverted person is not necessarily shy. They may have no fears of social interaction at all, they simply choose not to always participate in it.
A shy person is not necessarily an introvert. They may long for endless social interaction. An extrovert in waiting could be lurking under the shy camouflage.
Fitting Into a Category…
I struggled throughout much of my life with where I fall within these definitions. I spent much of my life absolutely 100% shy. My fears, my shyness, held me back endlessly.
I do long for social interaction, but in limited quantities. While I love socializing, after I do I always need a long recovery. No matter how much I may have enjoyed myself at the time, socializing wipes me out. I used to wonder what was wrong with me, why I needed to “recover” after too much engagement. After learning more about what it means to be an introvert I realized that this need for recovery wasn’t because I was weak or fragile, it’s simply my hardwiring.
Understanding the shyness I battled throughout my life, how it developed, how it affected me, and how it actually brings me strength, has helped me to embrace it. Now I long to help others do the same.
Shyness is a feeling in one’s soul. It’s the nerves we live with, our ability to speak clearly when we need to, the fluttering in our hearts, the resentfulness we feel when we don’t express ourselves the way we wanted to, the consistency with which these nerves plague our days. It affects the way we approach the world, the people in it, the professions we choose, the events we go to, the friends we have, the things that make us feel happy and at peace. It’s sometimes obvious to everyone around us and sometimes it’s only something we can feel for ourselves, deep in our souls.
What does seem to be universal is the detrimental way in which our world addresses shyness. “Get over it” seem to be the three words most associated with it.
It’s those three words that I resented more than anything growing up as a shy girl. My shyness now walks with me as a friend, instead of the enemy it used to be, and “getting over it” had nothing to do with this change.
In the next Shy Girl’s Manifesto post I’ll talk about how shyness showed up in my childhood.
Are you shy or introverted (or a little of both)?
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