Introversion Does not Equal Shyness

Shyness and introversion are often used interchangeably but, according to the professionals I have spoken with over the years, they do not actually mean the same thing.  Those suffering from shyness usually experience general discomfort in social situations, a lack of self-confidence, and a fear of being judged negatively by others. Introverts gain energy by spending time alone and are often exhausted by social events or extended amounts of time around other people (particularly extroverts); however, they are not necessarily shy.  They may hold high-profile jobs (there’s a rumor Bill Gates is an introvert) and are quite capable of being front and center if absolutely necessary.

I happen to be a shy introvert but I have also known outgoing introverts.  While I believe you can work your way through shyness, I don’t believe you “outgrow” introversion.  This is fine with me as it has presented only a few challenges in my life. In my opinion, one of the most difficult issues to navigate is the need for alone time.  It is easy for family and friends to take offense when the introvert chooses to retreat rather than engaging in conversation or accepting an invitation to “hang out.”  But, it really is nothing personal.

If you have an introvert in your life, try to remember it is not their intention to hurt or offend you when they rebuke your invitations. It just means their batteries need recharging before they commit to any further social activities. An introvert will appreciate you giving them space and it will benefit you in the long run. Spending time with a completely refueled and recharged introvert is usually more enjoyable than spending time with an introvert who feels forced into another social interaction before they are ready.

Of course, there is so much more to the introvert personality than just the need to spend time alone, but I think this trait can prove one of the more challenging to handle.  It can lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions that this need to hide away is rude or is meant to hurt intentionally when this is simply not the case.

There are plenty of articles on the internet addressing the introvert personality. Below I have listed just a few that I found particularly informative.

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