It may seem like social anxiety and introversion are very similar. Social anxiety involves feelings of fear and worry. The fear usually revolves around being judged or embarrassed, or fear of interacting with complete strangers. We may look at that list and think, “Doesn’t that describe introverts?”.” However, they are not quite the same, nor are they mutually exclusive. It is possible to be both!
Introversion is a Trait
If someone is introverted, that typically means that this trait is something they have had for a long time, if not their entire life. Introverted traits, for instance, may include needing to recharge after a social gathering or being more comfortable when alone or with smaller groups. Conversely, social anxiety is the fear of social situations.
What is social anxiety?
Unlike introversion, social anxiety manifests in a number of ways that can negatively impact your life. If you choose to stay home all weekend to recharge after spending the week with family and friends, you may be introverted. On the other hand, if you choose to stay home all weekend because you are afraid of being humiliated by interacting with other people, you may be socially anxious.
The difference lies in the overall choice of the feeling. One of these is something you do for yourself. You are taking time to yourself and getting quiet time. The other is a compulsion based on fear, rather than something you choose to do for yourself.
Both introverts and extroverts can be socially anxious
It may sound counterintuitive, but it is true! Introverted and extraverted individuals may both experience social anxiety. While extroverts may enjoy socializing with others and enjoy social interaction, they may still feel anxious around others at times. This could manifest as fear of embarrassment, or frequently replaying in their mind, actions they have had with others. As a result, introverted and extroverted individuals may both withdraw from social gatherings more than they’d prefer, negatively affecting their mental health. .
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, talking to someone you trust about social anxiety may help. Speak to someone, whether a friend or a counselor, to work through any issues you may be experiencing.