The Difference Between Shyness And Introversion

liekevandervorst.JPGAs I stood there during a children’s play in a snail costume, it was the first time I had spoke (and sung) out loud with the other children. During kindergarten and the early years of primary school I rarely spoke, and was extremely quiet. You can guess that my school reports from the age of 4 all the way to my teens, had the words quiet very often. I didn’t mind, but I always felt that that was bad thing. Once I turned 13 I tried to participate more and open up a little, but something inside made me feel that being the introvert and quiet soul that I was, was often not accepted in school, and even society today. There is no doubt that I was a very shy person growing up, but what I came to realise is that often Shyness and Introversion are seen as the same thing, but they have entirely different meanings.

Unfortunately many dictionary define an Introvert as a shy person or in most cases they describe an introvert in a negative tone. This is most likely the case in terms of why one may connect the two words together. However, Shy means feeling nervous and uncomfortable with other people. Whereas, Introvert means needing time alone to recharge, enjoying ones own company more than an extrovert may, feeling productive working alone and having a lively inner world. This definition is of course through my own experience as an introvert and the experience of many others. The truth of the matter is that not all introverts are shy. Some are and some aren’t. Just the same as some extroverts may be shy and some may not.

The two words may look the same, but they are completely different. There are introverts who love to interact with people, however they may engage in different ways. They may listen intently and may not talk in the way an extrovert might. They most likely need to wind down at home after a social event in order to clear their mind. An introvert likes to be alone but they get mentally and emotionally drained quicker when spending a lot of time with others. Whereas a shy person may not like to be alone, but are more hesitant in interacting with others for fear of judgment or discomfort. Whoever you may be, remember that everyone has a different personality.

From various experiences growing up, it made me realise that there is nothing wrong with being a quiet soul. Some of the things we may grow up believing are a weakness, could be some of our biggest strengths.

illustration by the amazing @liekevandervorst

12 thoughts on “The Difference Between Shyness And Introversion

  1. Love that talk by Susan Cain. I consider her as one of my heroes as I continue to fully embrace my introvert personality. I’m religiously reading her book at the moment and I can’t wait to share about the great insights.

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