Looking Outwards · Thoughts

Thoughts on Introversion and Social Anxiety

Looking Outwards, Part 3. Part 1 here and Part 2 here. (But you don’t have to click on all the links in this post to understand what I’m going on about.)

A common theme of my past two posts was that blimey, I feel uncomfortable talking about this. And a little bit like I’ve been pushed. And we are not going to automatically conclude ‘oh, she feels uncomfortable talking about it because she’s an introvert’. Oh, no. Don’t you dare. Ain’t that simple. But I do want to consider the topics of introversion and social anxiety in a little more depth. So let’s do that. (I should also add that introversion and social anxiety are not the same thing, and if it seems like I’m saying that I apologise because it’s not correct, but nevertheless there is a certain interplay between them.)

Sometimes, in fact oftentimes, I allow myself to give in to my reservations about talking to people. And then I go ahead and don’t talk to them. You don’t grow if you’re comfortable, but if you’re uncomfortable all the time, I’m pretty sure too many stress hormones can kill you, right? Give yourself a break. Give yourself lots of breaks. I certainly do.

I’ve always wondered/suspected if perhaps I have Social Anxiety Disorder, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt the need to find out more about it, let alone get help. So before I say any more, I should highlight that my thoughts on this issue come from not really knowing anything about it. I just… I’ve always been like this, man, and if I said it was a problem it would be like saying my wide feet are a problem. Not everything fits, and sometimes it’s annoying, but that’s just life, isn’t it? Nonetheless, this Psych2Go video made me think about it a little more.

In particular, I like the point at 1.34: don’t push an introvert. You know what? I’m going to refuse to allow myself to be pushed. I simply don’t see how it will help. I know that I want to be more interactive, and I know that it will help me in my life. I don’t need other people to tell me that, and I certainly don’t need other people to worry. I’ve got this. I’m already trying so, so hard. But by definition of the last four sentences, the only person I’m doing this for is myself. And so I need people to leave it up to me. If I want help, I’ll ask for it. There is no way in hell I am going to let myself down by not talking to a person, even when I’m really anxious about it, in a situation where it’s important I do that talking. Please have faith in me on that. Similarly, there is no way in hell I’m going to talk to someone about something completely unnecessary when I feel far too anxious to do so. If I don’t feel anxious about it then sure, I’ll have that conversation. But if I do – sometimes in life it’s ok to flee instead of fight. I already do too much fighting as it is.

Here is another Psych2Go video that just really, really gets me. I think I am every single type of introvert described in the first part of this video. I haven’t read any of the recent books about why it’s so great to be an introvert and how we can use this to our advantage in the workplace and such forth and so like. You know the ones. (Honestly, I’m sure I’d like them, but I so much prefer reading novels.) But I’m increasingly liking who I am. And my temptation just now was to say ‘forgiving myself for who I am’, but there’s nothing to forgive. I’m not doing anything wrong, in being an introvert, and I never have been. But understanding myself makes it much easier not to beat myself up, and also to play to my skills. I am an excellent listener, and observer. I couldn’t be more happy to listen to other people blither on about whatever they feel like blithering on about. I don’t have a huge number of friends, but those I do have are invariably utterly wonderful.

So here I am. Introvert and proud. Socially anxious oftentimes, and fine with that too. Looking outwards, at my own pace, in my own way.


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