To know if you’re an introvert or just plagued with social anxiety is a very important thing to determine early on. Misunderstanding yourself can lead to you destroying your social life and self-confidence easily. That is why as early as now, you should know if you’re an introvert or if you just have social anxiety.
Although some individuals are both introverted and socially anxious, it is also very important to note that these two aren’t mutually exclusive at all. Not all introverts have social anxiety and not all socially anxious people are introverts. With that in mind, let’s figure out the difference between the two and what you should do moving forward, where your social life is concerned.
How to Know If You’re An Introvert
Here are some key signs and characteristics you need to watch out for to know if you’re an introvert.
You’re not afraid of socializing, you just get tired of it
Introverts find it really tough to remain in a socializing mood for longer than they should. They’re not necessarily afraid of the idea of socializing, they just know deep inside they don’t have enough energy for it. Unlike extroverts who can socialize with many people for hours on end, introverts will eventually feel drained.
If this is the case for you, then you’re definitely an introvert instead of having social anxiety. You prefer the comforts of your own home but you don’t necessarily fear socializing. In your case, it’s more exhausting than terrifying, if anything.
You have a small social circle but you value that greatly
Your social circle is small, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. You can count the number of your “true friends” with just your hands but that’s perfectly fine with you. You love the friends you have and you don’t feel the need to expand your social circle. Be that as it may, you don’t reject that idea either. It’s just not something you actively seek.
That said, the idea that you don’t seek to expand your social circle doesn’t equate to you having social anxiety, but considering this is a good way to know if you’re an introvert. You’d rather have two to three real friends than have 20 but barely speak to most of them.
You enjoy being alone
The idea of being alone is something immensely comforting to you. You feel energized by it. When you think of “comfort,” you think about being snuggled up on your couch or on your bed, reading a book or watching a movie or playing a video game, or whichever fits your preference. You prefer to do this on your days off work when others would rather hit the town.
Once again, you don’t hate socializing or being around other people, you just have your own preference. This isn’t a sign of social anxiety, but more of something most introverts prefer to do. Since introverts get energy by staying in their comfort zones instead of being surrounded by other people like extroverts, they mainly prefer staying at home as often as they can.
You’re able to speak more in one-on-one conversations than in group conversations
You’re much more articulate and comfortable when you’re speaking to just one person compared to speaking in front of a group. In fact, whenever a group is involved, you have a tendency of willingly staying out of the conversation, opting to be a listener and an observer instead of being a participant.
This is a trait common to many introverts. They find conversations much more bearable and fluid when it’s simply a two-way street. When others are involved, however, they feel inclined to step out of it. Others may even find this situation tense and uncomfortable.
You miss going out sometimes
There are times when you do miss going out. More accurately, you miss hanging out with your friends and seeing the places you enjoy going to. This usually occurs when you’ve been holed up for too long.
While introverts mainly prefer to stay home instead of going out, there are instances when they do miss the idea of socializing. If you’re an introvert, this is definitely a normal case for you.
You hate being the center of attention
Introverts absolutely hate the idea of being the center of attention. They will go out of their way to avoid it at all costs. Bringing unwanted attention unto them, especially when a large group of people is involved, is a thought that will cause introverts to cringe. They find this needless and unbearable. Introverts would much rather be in the background instead of being at the forefront.
Whenever conversations arise, especially highly interesting ones, your ears will just perk up and you’ll be able to listen to those very intently. You can also scan the crowd quite well. You’re able to read the atmosphere of the room with ease and you’re rather empathetic than you give yourself credit for.
This is another trait that’s common to many introverts. Introverts are very attentive. They’re able to notice things a few others wouldn’t be able to pick up on. They are also highly empathetic. They can easily sense another person’s emotions without being told of them.
You can interact with someone for hours on end via text or chat
Interacting with someone becomes instantly easier for you if it’s done via text or chat. In fact, most of your interactions come from texts and chats. You feel more comfortable speaking with a stranger online than you speaking with a stranger at a bar or anywhere else in person. You can talk to someone online for hours while you wouldn’t even last one in person.
A lot of introverts are great conversationalists, but the only people who know this are their closest friends and some of the people they speak to online. Texts and chats are great mediums for introverts because it allows them to interact with other people while remaining confined in their comfort zones.
How to Know If You Have Social Anxiety
Now that you know if you’re an introvert or not, it’s now time for you to learn the signs of having social anxiety.
You dread socializing
Whenever there’s an upcoming social event or any other massive gathering, you tense up. You work up a sweat at the idea, almost. You dread the idea of socializing. If this is your case, then you may have social anxiety.
Social anxiety hits before the social event even begins. Just the idea of it will cause socially anxious people to feel nervous. It’s a terrible sign but it is definite.
You overthink every social interaction
Whenever you do get the chance to socialize with other people, you tend to overthink every moment.
- “Am I overdressed?”
- “Am I underdressed?”
- “All they all staring at me?”
- “Do they even care that I’m here?”
These thoughts plague your mind uncontrollably. As a result, your actions and movements become too jittery. Your anxiety will show and you’ll act more aloof and awkward. This very result causes you to overthink yourself even more, starting a vicious cycle.
Socially anxious people overthink situations all the time. They often come to conclusions that have very little chance of ever happening simply because of overthinking.
You try hard to get people to like you
Those who have social anxiety are very keen on making others like them. However, they try way too hard that it becomes weird and uncomfortable to the other person.
One of the reasons for this is validation. A socially anxious person finds it extremely difficult to socialize. In order to cope, they’ll seek validation from others. They’ll do their best to be liked by those around them. This isn’t done out of ill intent. It is simply their social anxiety controlling the cogs of their mind.
You fear making mistakes
You’ll do your best and go out of your way to avoid making mistakes that you inadvertently cause them instead. You overthink, become overly conscious, you anticipate things and words before they come. As a result, you become tense, uncomfortable, clumsy, and awkward.
Once again, this is another vicious cycle that’s caused by social anxiety. Your fear of making mistakes lead you to inevitably make them. This only feeds your social anxiety, causing you to fear and dread socializing even more.
You tend to put on a facade when socializing with others
You find it somewhat easier to interact with others when you put on a facade. So, you try to be someone you’re not. Someone who’s “better” at socializing. Someone who won’t fumble at every turn. You attempt to become a person who doesn’t have social anxiety.
What’s worse is that you absolutely fear the idea of others seeing the “real you.” When socializing with other people, you’ll do your best to keep up this facade just so your real self will remain hidden. This is incredibly hard to keep up, let alone do, but you bear with it.
You have feelings of self-loathing
People who have social anxiety also tend to have self-loathing. They hate the fact that they’re socially anxious and the idea they can’t socialize properly like other people. They hate the fear they feel when they’re surrounded by other people. Tragically, they hate themselves.
This is all very terrible and no one should ever feel this way. This is a terrible symptom brought upon by social anxiety in the worst cases.
You’re envious of socially adept people
People who have social anxiety also tend to feel envious of those who don’t have them. They aspire to be socially adept and envy those who already are. It’s unavoidable, almost, to feel this kind of envy, and it’s the reality of things for those who have social anxiety.
In the worst cases, the feelings of envy can transform to hate. Sometimes the hate is targeted at the person they’re envious of, and sometimes it’s directly inwardly.
What To Do Moving Forward
Now that you know the difference between an introvert and a person who has social anxiety, you must then assess which one you fall under. Continue reading then and see what you should do moving forward if you’re an introvert or have social anxiety. If you happen to fall under both, then consider both sections below.
Moving forward as an introvert
If you’re an introvert, moving forward should never be a matter of changing who you are. First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. Second, being an introvert doesn’t automatically mean you’re socially inept.
The main thing you need to understand as an introvert is that your social battery is lowered compared to that of an extrovert. You’re unable to socialize for a long time whereas extroverts can do so for hours on end with ease. With that in mind, don’t bother trying to socialize like an extrovert. Embrace your introversion and socialize as an introvert.
If you already have your own tiny social circle, be sure to embrace that. Appreciate the friends you already have. Keep being open about meeting and make new ones, of course.
Moving forward as someone who has social anxiety
Social anxiety is a terrible thing anyone can experience. In fact, social anxiety has gotten more and more common in our day and age. The best thing you need to do right now and moving forward is to overcome your social anxiety and get rid of it completely. This won’t be easy, and this will take time, but this will ultimately be worth it.
If you believe that your problem with social anxiety is very serious, please don’t hesitate to seek professional help. It’s better that you’re helped by a professional so you speak up about your problem and so that you can actively do things that will ultimately overcome your social anxiety.
There are also a ton of articles on this site that talks about how to deal with social anxiety and other similar problems. Do take the time to check them out so you can isolate problems and you’ll know how to deal with them. Good luck!