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.
“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?