No, they are not the same thing! As the blogger behind The Quiet Girl Diaries, I am here to break down the differences between introversion and being shy. All thoughts are my own. Be sure to post yours in the comments!
Misinterpreting Personality Traits
I’ll be the first to admit that I am both an introvert and a shy person. Coming to terms with this fact hasn’t been easy. People have a tendency to make me feel like something is wrong with me. I am constantly asked “Why are you so quiet?”. I also hear statements like “You’re so shy,” in a sympathetic tone of voice. Let me just say this right now; being an introvert or shy does not diminish my abilities.
The good thing about growing as a person is learning to care less about what others think. That way, I can focus more on what makes me happy. Embracing the fact that I am an introvert has been a huge part of my journey. My shyness, however, is something that I have decided to work on, because it has set me back sometimes. I will explain below, as I demonstrate some of the differences between introversion and being shy.
Defining The Terms
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, shy means:
Showing that you are nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people.
and introversion is:
The act of directing one’s attention toward or getting gratification from one’s own interests, thoughts, and feelings.
Which, when put in those words, make us sound selfish. However, my definition of being an introvert means that I need fewer people to validate my life.
We Are Born Introverts, We Become Shy
I feel that introverts are born this way, as introversion is internal. As you can see from the definition, it is natural for introverts to feel okay with themselves. Some introverts prefer to be alone, because they know who they are and they trust their instincts and feelings. Personally, I prefer being alone when I am working on an important project. I concentrate better. I don’t second guess myself as much as when I am working with other people. That’s the way I’ve always been, and I don’t know any other way. I do my best work when I have peace and quiet all to myself.
In contrast, shyness is a learned trait, since most shy people tend to focus on what others will think when you say or do something. Most people can think back to a time when they first felt shy.
I remember when I was in the 4th grade. I had just moved to a new country and was learning a new language. On my first day of school, my teacher had me stand in front of the class and introduced myself. Everything was fine, until she turned to me and said “Bonjour!”
I am guessing that was the only French word she knew. I replied “Bonjour!” happy to finally hear a word I understand. The whole class burst into laughter and the looks on some of their faces made me feel like I was a weird creature from another planet. After that, I remember feeling very nervous around the whole class. I became afraid to speak because I felt like I was everybody’s muse. All the children seemed fascinated that I was different and had a different reaction to my accent. The fact that I was an introvert didn’t help much in that situation so, I became a very shy person.
Which is why the differences between introversion and being shy make sense, including this next example.
Shyness Often Results From Fear
Introversion is a natural phenomenon, just like extroversion or being born left/right handed. Introverts should not be evaluated differently just because we’re different. Introverts are naturally independent people. We value opinions and love to take advice. Yet when it comes to challenges, our brain is already working on plan B and C scenarios.
Shyness is often driven by fear, as was the case for me. The fear of disappointing others, not being good enough, not being liked, not being right and not being taken seriously are all powerful human fears. The problem is that some people tend to overthink, which give our fears room to grow until it completely consumes us.
I’ll use myself again as an example. I can think of so many times where I should have said something and put somebody in their place. Like when a trusted colleague brought up my personal family issue in a meeting, I wanted to jump up and say “F%#@ You!”. But I didn’t because someone else jumped to my defense. Also, I feared losing my job.
My point is that there are a number of fears that we have that can make us shy. The occasional issue with shyness is that it can hinder our progress at times. Being a shy person is completely okay, but try not to let fear consume you to the point of letting others walk all over you and being afraid of letting your opinions known. And these are the key differences between introversion and being shy.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the differences between introversion and being shy! Please check out my blog (link above!) and leave your thoughts in the comments. If you happen to be dating an introvert, this related article might be for you!