Beyond Introversion

Once upon a time, it was almost anathema to admit to being an Introvert. Recently, as people learn more about what introversion is, more and more people are “coming out” and talking about what it REALLY means. Amma Marfo wrote a great post about seeing  Susan Cain, who wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, speak (Amma also wrote an article about introversion within student leaders). Our President, Barak Obama, needs time to himself between meetings (thanks Amma and Susan Cain for that info!). The higher ed rockstar @EricStoller is a self-proclaimed introvert, and I’m sure that many of those Student Affairs Professionals I most admire through Twitter and G+ are introverts as well.

But what happens when you are so introverted that it crosses into borders on anxiety-inducing shyness,  limiting one not only from participating in social events and meeting new people, but also restricts one’s ability to interact via the increasingly important forms of SocialMedia. I’ve had MBTI done three times, and I am ALWAYS more than 90% Introverted; it actually shocks the administrators.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

“But Jessi, you are active with MCPA and Girl Scouts–you TRAIN adult volunteers for crying out loud!”

Yes, but I give about half the amount of sessions as other Learning Facilitators; my best module? Orientation, the “Paperwork Training,” because it’s less interactive and I could more easily memorize everything. I’ve learned to pretend I’m not shy because, growing up, the shy kid was a pariah. I “faked it till I made it” when I went to a new high school. I arrive to my trainings early to sit alone and psych myself up for the session; then I panic once I’m back in my car. Shyness is a shameful thing to have because you avoid others, it is a spiraling emotion which leads to anxiety and depression.

Of course, this is extreme–I never really addressed my shyness as a teen, and have long pretended that I’m charming and comfortable around people. But I rarely attend networking socials, and am usually seen with at least one friend at conferences or events because I’m so uncomfortable. Many shy people are better adjusted than I, and can present workshops, or walk into a new situation without fearing a complete shut-down. Many other shy people however, are debilitated by this emotion. There is some research about shyness, but not much; I hope shyness gets picked up with some of the research/work going into introversion because of the correlation between the two.

Are you shy, or introverted? How do you know? What do you do about it?


6 thoughts on “Beyond Introversion

  1. Have you ever done As I See Myself? It’s a different personality inventory on which I am literally off the charts “Analyzer-Analyzer”. I could stay in my own head all day and be happy. But thankfully, I also love people (once I get past the small talk stage and get to know them!) so it gives me a little push.
    Know that as someone who has gotten to read your writing, and even see you present, that you have big things to say and people would love to learn from you. It doesn’t always help shyness, but I hope it’s nice to hear 🙂

    • I haven’t even heard of that before, thank you Amma, I will definitely check it out!

      It’s excellent to hear, thank you. I WANT to overcome my shyness, which is one reason I try to stay over-involved with things–it forces me to fake it–but over-involvement burns out the Introvert. Vicious cycles! Praise is a cursed blessing as it leads to modest shyness and helps me know where I’m going right with my actions.

  2. awesome post Jess!

    What I find in my older years is that I am a bit more introverted (who me?)–needing down time and alone time away from people or even when in a group, taking a step back and being more reflective than I have in the past.

  3. I’m about that introverted if not worse; shy is not the right word considering how I came to be like I am, but the effect is the same. I’ve never known what to do about it, so I just get more isolated every year.

    Interesting you bring up trouble with social media, a lot of the introverts I know find talking there to be so much easier and they’re very social on the internet. I think I did once too, but the way things are now that comfort level is gone and its just as bad as anything in person. I don’t see a lot of people mentioning that, so I guess its nice to know its not just me. 🙂

    • I tend to think I’m an anomaly in regards to social media. if I’m communicating in person, I either know the person well enough to be “comfortable”, or am in a situation where I think my voice/input is useful. Online, there are so many people I feel like I get lost in the shuffle or am only repeating what a million others have said before.

  4. Beth says:

    Thanks for your post, Jessi. This has been on my mind just within the last few days as I’ve been itching to get out and socialize, but haven’t had buddies or a date to bring with me. I decided that it would be therapeutic to just go out alone and grapple with the feelings of shyness, then move past them to enjoy myself. Friday night, I went to a dancing lesson and lingered long enough at the club afterwards to have one drink and actually dance with a couple of guys. Saturday, I attended the rodeo alone and then went out to a comedy club, where I was the only person at a table by myself. I take different measures for different situations, but so far this is what I’ve been doing to try to become less shy and at least fake extroversion.

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