8 signs you’re an actual introvert (and not just shy)

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Am I an introvert or just shy?

If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, it’s unsurprising. Because the two things are often mixed up.

Society makes assumptions that the two are interchangeable or go hand in hand. But they don’t.

Let’s cut to the chase:

Shyness is a form of mild social anxiety. You may be more withdrawn because the thought of all eyes on you makes you squirm.

Introversion on the other hand means you need a lot of time alone because being with others can quickly leave you feeling drained.

It gets a bit trickier though, because there are crossovers between the two.

Both introverts and shy people focus more on their own inner worlds than the world around them.

Hence it can be confusing to know which one you are. So let’s break it down.

Here are some clear signs you’re an actual introvert and not just shy.

1) You don’t feel particularly inhibited about being yourself

Well, no more than the rest of us do. Because we can all feel a little unsure of ourselves in certain situations.

But you don’t feel especially uncomfortable showing people who you are.

That doesn’t mean you’re a total open book.

As we’ll see later, introverts tend to make friends in a slightly different way. So you may enjoy socializing in smaller groups and having more in-depth conversations.

But shy people are more likely to hide who they really are. That’s because they are afraid of the judgments of others.

So they may keep their opinions. thoughts or feelings to themselves. They avoid rocking the boat or standing out at all costs.

Even though they don’t feel the need to be in the spotlight, introverts on the other hand aren’t particularly scared of being seen.

When it comes to the people closest to you, you have no problem being your genuine self.

You’re generally pretty confident and feel like you have healthy self-esteem. You’re not prone to second-guessing or doubting yourself.

2) You spend time alone because you genuinely prefer it

Shy people can sometimes feel very lonely. Because deep down they may crave more company than they keep.

But they are too unsure to put themselves out there.

They want to go to that party on Saturday night, but the thought of it makes them anxious.

Introverts don’t want to go to the party, that’s why they turn down the invite.

They are perfectly content staying home and having some “me-time”.

It’s not that they are anti-social. It’s just that they actually need a lot more me-time than extroverts do.

Because as we’ll see next, this is how they recharge and recoup.

3) It’s not that you don’t like hanging out with people, but it can be exhausting

This is the real crux of the issue:

Introverts are quite literally wired differently. Research highlights that their brains take much longer to process information.

So they need more time to integrate the experiences they have, otherwise, they feel bombarded and it can quickly get overwhelming.

That means if you are introverted you may notice that after socializing you feel zapped.

You struggle to have a busy social calendar because it’s too tiring, both physically and mentally for you.

If you are simply shy and manage to find social situations that you feel comfortable in, you may find that you feel quite energized by people’s company.

4) Socializing only tends to make you feel uncomfortable when it’s in big (or unfamiliar) groups

Introversion is not insecurity, whereas shyness is plagued with insecurity.

And it’s insecurity that usually makes us want to avoid all people all of the time.

The motivation for introverts to avoid certain aspects of socializing is because of their very particular energetic needs, as pointed out above.

So their dislike of certain aspects of social events is often limited to:

  • Big groups of people
  • Loud and crowded venues
  • Lot’s of new faces or strangers to get to know

Because it’s exhausting it can feel very unappealing to an introvert. The energetic trade-off doesn’t feel worth it.

They know they will need to spend a lot of time recovering afterward, and it makes it all less fun.

But an intimate dinner with friends, a road trip with a few pals, being curled up on the sofa with a loved one — these are things introverts relish.

5) You have a hard time concentrating in noisy environments

I’ve never understood how anyone can get any work done in a cafe.

To me, the expression ‘I can’t hear myself think’ springs to mind.

One of the lesser-known effects of introversion is overstimulation when it comes to sights, sounds, and smells around you.

Studies have noted that introverts are way more easily distracted than extroverts. That’s another reason why introverts enjoy a more chill lifestyle.

Do you find it hard to focus when there’s a lot going on around you?

Do you need earplugs to block out the noise of traffic, chatter, and general noise pollution?

Do you find the hustle and bustle of modern life pretty stressful and all a bit too much sometimes?

Then it sounds like your senses are certainly wired in an introverted way.

6) You’re not glued to your social media

Shy people often crave connections that they may not always feel like they’re getting.

Compare that to someone who is introverted and prefers to interact, chat, and mingle far less than an extrovert does.

The effect is often that shy people spend more time silently watching other people’s lives play out online. Or they seek safer-feeling interactions on social media which they feel like they can hide behind.

Yet for introverts, the same energy-draining rules apply to their online life as it does in their real life.

So they’re probably less likely to be constantly attached to their phones.

That’s not to say you never get sucked in, it’s designed specifically to grab our attention.

But you’re less prone to FOMO or compelled to keep checking what others are doing compared to the average person.

7) You make strong connections, but you tend to have smaller friendship groups

Being an introvert certainly doesn’t make you a lone wolf.

Whilst shy people can feel like they struggle to connect with people around them, that’s not the case for introverts.

Yes, they may have a much smaller circle of friends, but it is by choice.

They don’t have the capacity for countless relationships in their lives so they’d rather focus on quality over quantity.

Shy people on the other hand may feel way more misunderstood.

It may feel like very few people know the real them and they find it hard getting close to others.

8) You don’t find having conversations difficult, but you like them to be deep

Introverts often hate small talk with a passion. They can find it both awkward and pretty damn pointless, in equal measure.

Shy people however usually find all forms of conversations challenging.

It doesn’t make a difference whether they are being asked to make polite chit-chat about the weather or give their thoughts on an ongoing political situation that’s playing out.

Both have the potential to make them embarrassed and bring them out into a hot flush.

It’s not the topic that’s the problem, it’s taking part in any conversation.

Introverts can be very engaged when they find something they think is worth talking about.

They are capable of being passionate debaters and expressive communicators.

Final thoughts: You can be both introverted and shy

Of course, you don’t have to be one or the other. Some people are a mix of the two.

Both introverts and shy people tend to have vivid internal worlds and are deep thinkers.

You cannot necessarily do a lot about your introversion, although it certainly doesn’t need to hold you back in any way.

Shyness however is something you can work on.

By practicing your social skills —whether that’s conversation, assertiveness, active listening, speech, self-awareness, etc. you can build your confidence.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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