Personally, I don’t have too many friends and I spend a lot of time alone. Although, that doesn’t make me unhappy. Unlike shy people, who are afraid of interacting with others, I love doing that but sometimes I find that spending a lot of time in someone else’s company is emotionally draining and me time is much needed in order to recharge my batteries. Shyness could be overcome but introversion is part of a person just like eyes, hair or ears because it is a biological and personality trait.
From the outside, an introvert is seen in much the same way as a shy person. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people thought I was anti-social, standoff-ish or awkward. But let me tell you, introverts are social…in a different way. There is not one single way of being social but I believe there are right and wrong ways. Sometimes I prefer to devote my social time to my loved ones, to those who I know really well and have a meaningful conversation with them instead of trying to do small talk with 30 random people at a party.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good party, hanging out with others and being crazy but my idea of socialising also includes relaxing and cosy nights in with just a couple of friends and doing the bare minimum. In this case, staying at home on a Friday night for example, it’s my choice as an introvert but people who deal with shyness may think that they have no other choice but to stay home, despite wishing they were out.
I’m not unable to function in basic human interactions as an introvert. I can ask for directions or order food at a restaurant, activities which could be agonising for shy people because of their fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations. Shyness could get so severe and so crippling at times that it could actually be diagnosed as a mental health issue.
Another big difference between a passionate introvert like myself and a shy person is their feeling about the lack of social interactions and their desire for companionship. From my own experience I can say that I don’t mind not talking to others and being around them 24/7. I’m fine with being alone with my thoughts for a while and not having to engage in interactions that don’t stimulate me. On the other hand, a shy person wishes that it just wasn’t the case because they are lusting for a big group of friends but they just can’t bring themselves to reach out and well…interact.
The fact that I’m more quiet and hard to read makes me feel a bit misunderstood and sometimes I feel like I’m not fitting in but still that doesn’t really affect me. I am a thoughtful person and I like understand details because I tend to learn a lot through observation. I admit I may be more quiet when I’ve just met a big group of people but once I get to know them and connect with them (drinks may be needed for that) I suddenly become very sociable. As an introvert I do like to chose my friends carefully but if I’m building a good relationship with someone it tends to be very significant and profound.
For a long period of time I was looking at myself as a shy human being but after digging into the topic and seeing the differences between being shy and being an introvert (and maybe I took some Buzzfeed quizzes because there’s nothing more reliable than that, am I right?) I realised that that’s not exactly my issue. I’m not ashamed of being an introvert, and no one should feel like that just because we get our energy from being alone with our thoughts. This doesn’t mean that we’re afraid of interacting with others, like shy people are. I just wish there was no misunderstanding when it comes to these two concepts and people knew the differences before labelling someone as either shy or introverted.