Lately I’ve found myself making statements such as:
I can’t be on any committees or even attend meetings. I’m an introvert and it’s too hard for me.
I can’t entertain large groups of people – I’m an introvert.
But I’m starting to wonder. Am I actually an introvert or do I just have social anxiety?
The thing is, I’m actually not that quiet. I also tend to blurt things out without fully thinking them through. Apparently, if I was an introvert, I would not talk without thinking first. I definitely do like to be alone, but I wouldn’t say I find social events to be draining.
I took the personality test here and my results say I’m an ISFJ – Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging. Some of the results definitely describe me:
However, I was surprised that the possible careers for ISFJs always include helping professions, such as social work. Because for me, social work didn’t work out when I realized I actually don’t like people. Ok, that isn’t entirely true. I like some people. Anyway, I wondered how an introvert deals with a job in social work or the like, when you have to interact with people constantly. Then I realized that introverts don’t necessarily have issues interacting with people, they just need time to recover afterwards. On the other hand, socially anxious people do have trouble interacting with others.
“Social anxiety is a discomfort or a fear when a person is in social interactions that involve a concern about being judged or evaluated by others. It is typically characterized by an intense fear of what others are thinking about them (specifically fear of embarrassment, criticism, or rejection), which results in the individual feeling insecure, and that they are not good enough for other people. The results of this are fear and anxiety within social situations, and the assumption that peers will automatically reject them in the social situations.” [source]
At times, that paragraph is me exactly. I found an article which compares introverts to people who are shy to people who might have social anxiety. To be honest, I don’t see myself in any of the described categories!
I enjoy being with people, especially my friends, but the larger the group, the less I will speak. I love to be alone. I both talk about myself and listen to what others have to say. If I feel later that I said something stupid or annoying, I worry that whoever I was speaking to will remember and like me less for it. I do not speak to fill silence. I also don’t avoid speaking, unless I am required to make a point, in which case I prefer to make it in writing.
So after all of this, I still don’t know if I can honestly claim to be an introvert, and I also don’t know if it really matters. I am who I am, I guess! Who are you?