Asim Mudgal is an Author and Poet with a degree in History Honors. He is creating space for Awareness and Inclusivity through research.
For a long time, we have misinterpreted Introversion with Social Anxiety. We have often seen people saying that they are introverted, that they might be experiencing social anxiety.
But even an extroverted person can experience social anxiety. But being introverted and socially anxious can be true.
As famous psychologists define it, "Introversion is your way, Anxiety is in your way." This phrase simply implies that being introverted is your personality trait, and experiencing anxiety is formed due to your past traumatic experiences, situations, and dilemmas.
Introversion is often mistaken for "Shyness" as well, but it's not true. "Shyness" is an emotion-driven by fear of going around people or having a conversation with people. But introverted people are more likely to feel tiredness and exhaustion while talking to a large group of people or being extroverted for some time.
This article will discuss the basic differences between introversion and social anxiety.
A stammering man is never a worthless one. Physiology can tell you why. It is an excess of delicacy, excess of sensibility to the presence of his fellow creature, that makes him stammer.
— Thomas Carlyle
Social Anxiety V/s Introversion
Last week I was watching some vlog videos on YouTube, then suddenly a recommendation came on my channel with a video titled "Severe Social Anxiety V/s Being an introvert." I clicked on the video where a certified clinical American psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula was explaining the differences in detail between introversion and social anxiety.
While stating the difference between introversion and social anxiety, she said that Introversion is more like an inward reflection, in which people enjoy doing things alone rather than engaging themselves in a large group of crowds, while social anxiety is an irrational fear of being judged, harmed, negative thoughts about people and works.
Further, she describes social anxiety as social and occupational impairment. Explaining social and occupational impairment, she says that you are so socially anxious that you are missing out on social events in your life like going to a wedding, raising a toast at a friend's wedding, or missing out on important job promotions.
Being alone does not mean you are depressed or worthless. It is just that you enjoy spending time with yourself and around some close groups of people. Further, you might feel exhaustion or tiredness after completing your occupational work. You like working alone, and you aren't running away from work because of fear.
Social anxiety results from being around people who are resolutely opposed to who you are.
— Stefan Molyneux
Introversion: What is Introvert or Being an Introvert Means?
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, coined the concept of introversion and extroversion in and around the 1920s. Jung believed all people have natural inclinations, which result in fundamental distinctions regarding how they view the world.
Introversion is a personality trait in which your behavior and thoughts go through inward reflection before having or initiating a conversation. If we define it more precisely, then introverts tend to form ideas and thoughts in their minds and share them aloud only when that idea is internally revised and rehearsed in their mind. That's why most introverts have slower verbal responses or withhold responses.
People with introverted personality traits gain pleasure in solitary activities like reading books, writing, watching movies, traveling alone, or meditation. In social gatherings and engagement, they easily get too much overwhelming stimulation.
Although inward meeting and well-being may gain them conceptual interest and better understanding, sometimes being modest and slow responses make them seen as inactive people with no ideas or concepts about anything. However, research says even though they don't like public confrontations, they tend to confront or express their views and ideas through art and writings.
There are different subtypes and types of people with introversion, and it is likely to be true that introverted people are socially anxious. However, that does not mean that they hate people or have a fear of being around people. They just don't want or like to have this one and one exhausting gathering interaction. And when anxious people are forced into extroverted situations, they tend to develop social anxiety.
For example, if an extrovert person is said to spend their whole week and day in one room without parties, fest, or groups of friends, it is normal that they will start feeling anxious. Similarly, an introverted person who prefers small get-togethers or spending quality time alone is outed to the over-crowded party or musical fest. Normally, they are likely to become anxious.
Some of the key elements of introversion:
- having strong listening skills
- carefully consider options before making a decision
- disliking confrontation
- preferring to share feelings and thoughts through writing or art
And some research psychologists have defined introversion as an ego-syntonic state. A state in which people feel in harmony in an ego where they are cool and enjoy themselves with their thoughts, talks, and stories of minds. And, this necessarily doesn't mean they are egoistic, and they hate people. They are also not depressed or sad because no one wants to be depressed or sad.
Introverted people working at the workplace don't feel this social anxiety that they are being stared at or made fun of by their appearances. Although, they might feel tiredness or exhaustion after being extroverted for some time while working.
Shyness is about the fear of social judgments – at a job interview or a party you might be excessively worried about what people think of you. Whereas an introvert might not feel any of those things at all, they simply have the preference to be in a quieter setting.
— Susan Cain
Social Anxiety: What is Social Anxiety?
Social Anxiety means having panic attacks or being in fear around social situations. It is a serious mental health illness included in the list of ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease-10th revision) by the World Health Organisation.
We all experience a little bit of fear or anxiousness while meeting strangers, joining a new occupation, or attending a formal or informal meeting which is natural. But people with social anxiety feel being ridiculed in public places or by people and keep thinking about those things for weeks or months. After the formal get-together, they again overthink about everything, which further creates a panic state inside them for forthcoming situations.
As per research, people with social anxiety are more likely to worry that they will do or say something humiliating or embarrassing like blushing, constant staring, sweating, shaking, looking anxious, appearing boring, stupid, or incompetent.
In most children, the pattern of social anxiety comes with a sudden outburst like crying or behavioral changes like showing tantrums. Whereas, adults or young people saw signs of withdrawal from college or occupational work.
People with social anxiety are more likely to say, behave or act in a certain way in public situations. They will likely carve a self-conscious image in front of a large crowd or occupational work.
Social anxiety becomes severe when people start drinking alcohol, abusing drugs, or taking an unhealthy substance to maintain their normalcy in public functions or parties.
Some of the key points related to Social Anxiety:
- often feel anxious about doing something embarrassing in public
- avoiding interaction with people you don't know well
- fixate on the possibility of social slip-ups, like forgetting someone's name or sneezing during a lecture
- feeling frustrated or lonely because you struggle to connect with others in the way you'd like
Introversion is a personality type with a positive connotation in which brain chemicals function in run-down feelings. In comparison to extroversion, in which the same chemicals in the brain feel an excited buzz. Introverts listen to the employees more than talking in the case of a public workplace. Their energy is stimulated and recharged around two to three people. Most introverts are good at working and are doing great in their respective fields. People often keep things to themselves because they enjoy solitude.
Social anxiety is driven by negativity or negative connotations about oneself. People with social experience severe and extreme fear and often show signs of withdrawal from the working space. They also experience panic attacks, stomachaches, and headaches. The feeling of anxiety makes people so anxious that they start losing themselves in respective functions, work, or homes and experience a mental trauma. Sometimes fearing they are being misjudged, humiliated, or talked about in society they take the wrong step of killing themselves.
There are lots of myths and facts that need to be cleared out about introversion and social anxiety. Introversion is a personality trait that was brought to light by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1920. Until now, there has been lots of research conducted that has defined introversion differently from social phobia. Social phobia often comes in the way of the personalities because of long-driven trauma, pain, suffering, bullying, genes, or abuse.
Introversion is not a disease, but social anxiety is a serious mental illness that needs careful consideration. There is still a lot of awareness and educational introspection required when dealing with such topics or talking about social anxiety and introversion.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Asim Mudgal