I am an introvert born in a family of extroverts. As a society, we don’t really understand introverts. Ever since I was a kid, I always preferred to play by myself. I remember wanting to always stay in my room and read, or even sleep rather than come outside and socialise.
Not all introverts are prone to social anxieties and those who have, don’t realise it, till it takes a toll and causes mental havoc.
Felt I am a weirdo because of anxiety
Growing up, I have always felt I was abnormal while others thought I was just shy and would grow out of it. Today I am almost thirty years old and never “grew out of it” because I was never “shy” in the first place.
I am an introvert with social anxiety and I am going to tell you the difference between both, in the hope that it would benefit others.
My life might look quite normal on the surface but there is a myriad of thoughts that generate in my mind and it happens all the time. If you have social anxiety, you will feel people are constantly judging you, ridiculing or even laughing at you.
Now picture yourself walking alone on the road. I will show you the contrast.
When You walk – just walk and probably appreciate nature while walking
When I walk – trying to just walk and suddenly it strikes me, Am I walking weirdly? Are my arms swinging too much? Do I look crazy? Are those two people standing at the end of the road (who don’t even know I exist) laughing at me?
See the difference? This is what anxiety does to a person.
Cafeteria and classroom is a nightmare for someone with social anxiety. Attendance was the most dreaded time during school and college. It was an ordeal.
Why? Picture this. The teacher calls out my name,
ME: Present Ma’m (Did anyone notice my double chin and Should I say Yes madam or is it present, and was I loud enough? And what if the teacher didn’t hear me and marks me absent!)
Picking up phone call is another ordeal. Now you can guess why my phone is on silent mode all the time. It is overwhelming to talk, that’s why most people with social anxieties prefer messaging compared to calling.
Self conscious and awkward
I feel so comfortable being around my family and relatives. Maybe one or two closest friends, but when it comes to anyone else, I feel so awkward. I feel self-conscious, its easier to just stay at home than meet people. It is draining and exhausting being around people.
I used to feel sick when people advised me that I must fit in and not become a recluse. Though I try to be polite and listen, honestly I just want to run from there.
Difference between introversion and social anxiety
If you are an introvert, you may avoid large crowds and social gatherings as you will find it draining. You embrace solitude, but if you have social anxiety, not only you will find socialising overwhelming but it will cause distress and may take hours or days to recover and feel normal again.
Introverts are not afraid of meeting people. They don’t go out much because they simply don’t want to. If the thought of going out unnerves you and you try to stay away from possible interactions that come with everyday task and normal activities like shopping and going to gym induces fear, then it is not just introversion.
Basically, introversion is an inborn personality trait whereas social anxiety is a form of psychological illness.
In my next post, I will be telling you how you can overcome your social anxiety and lead a peaceful life. Drop-in your comments if you found this article helpful.