The terms ‘introversion’ and ‘social anxiety‘ often get conflated and are used interchangeably by the general public. Some people that may feel they identify with the concepts may not be able to tell whether they are in fact introverts, have social anxiety, or both. Are the two the same thing or is there something that distinguishes them from one another?

The main difference between the two is that in introversion, decisions are made by choice whereas in social anxiety they are formed due to fear. For example, an introvert may leave a party early because they are feeling overstimulated and would prefer to spend their time alone but someone with social anxiety may leave a party early because they are afraid that people are judging them harshly. The introvert would genuinely rather be alone. The socially anxious individual may wish to stay at the party, but their fear is too overwhelming.

Another critical difference is that introverts are born introverted but social anxiety is a learned response.Β An introvert usually prefers solitude from a young age, but they feel no discomfort when they are around other people. They can often socialise well but may need to do it in smaller chunks of time. The socially anxious individual, however, may have learned through experience that people are judgemental and will treat them poorly if they do not fit in. Their parents may have been overly concerned about what others think, causing the child also to be worried about judgement. The child could also have been a victim of bullying, which clouds their future interactions with others. They may wish to be around other people but have difficulty doing so.

Although introversion and social anxiety often go hand in hand, extrovert can also have social anxiety. These individuals may crave social interaction, but find themselves feeling anxious and inferior when they are around others. There are also introverts that are confident. These individuals may be quiet but do not judge themselves and feel inadequate for being this way. They may also be quite good at socialising but prefer to have time to recharge alone.

In conclusion:

These two concepts are significantly different from one another despite them seeming similar on the surface level. Once we dig deep and look at the motivations for behaviour, we can see introverts and socially anxious people are a world apart. If you feel you may have social anxiety, there is help out there! Please talk to a professional. They can help you lead the life you want.

 

 

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34 thoughts on “Differences Between Introversion & Social Anxiety

  1. I found this really interesting. I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2016 and when I went into remission I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety. I use to be out every Friday after work back then but getting out now fills me with dread. But if I remember correctly I used to want to stay in more than go out in my very early years up to my mid 20s. Anyway good read thank you πŸ™‚

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    1. Anxiety is awful and I’m sorry you’re going through it! Are you getting treatment for it? I know it’s very difficult, but don’t let it hold you back from living your life! Thank you for your comment.

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      1. Thank you for replying. I was getting treatment and even started CBT but then relapsed in December of last year and wasn’t able to go through it as I was very I’ll again. Am back in remission again now though and do feel things creeping back. I have support as I go to Marie Curie Day Therapy every Friday.
        Your post are very helpful it’s great that you have this on here!

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      2. Ahh, recovery is often a one step forward, two step back type of thing. But you will eventually get to where you want to be. I’m glad to hear you have some support! πŸ™‚ If you ever need to talk, feel free to drop me an email.

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  2. Thanks for this. I’m the natural born introvert. I have never had trouble making friends or being in a group. I do, however, need my down time. I have left many a party early to “be with myself & center” (thank you, Fergie).

    I have also been the victim of bullying due to my introverted nature. Quiet kids can become targets. As a young teen, I developed some anxiety. Adulthood tamed the anxiety.

    I had a bigger problem than introversion growing up…an indifferent father & male validation. That has been my cross to bear. It has only been recently that this issue has finally been tamed but, I had to reach my 50s to do it.

    It is all a process.

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  3. And then there is social rejection, not unusual in high school. And the loneliness experienced by Asperger’s syndrome people, and something called avoidant personality disorder. I don’t understand any of these things fully. You approach the issue here purely from the side of the individual who may need to sometimes seek solitude. But there is also the other side: a society in which individuals and groups decide to exclude, shun or ostracize an individual for whatever reason, or for no reason at all. Now that is a subject I would like to see examined and explained.

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  4. Interesting post and very true. People often perceive me to be an extrovert as I’m outgoing which is true but I also enjoy the silence and my own company. Thank you for visiting my blog,

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  5. “social anxiety is a learned response” I’ve never really thought of this before. When I was a drunk I didn’t have social anxiety. I was charismatic at parties and bars, people wanted to be around me. As I gave up drunkenness, my anxiety level climbed. I have always thought that the drinking self-medicated the anxiety, but now I’m thinking that perhaps I learned to be anxious because being sober was much scarier than being drunk.

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  6. Reblogged this on Lorraine Nibut and commented:
    I am more of an introvert, but occasionally the thought of social gatherings bring about anxiety primarily because I believe I have nothing to contribute to the interaction. That feeling can be overwhelming at times which keeps me from attending an event altogether. I’m not sure if that in itself qualifies as a lesser degree of social anxiety, especially since I’ve accepted a long time ago I do not fit in with most crowds.

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  7. thank you for this! I’m an introvert diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder and I definitely found myself in a lot of the things you mentioned. great post lovely ❀

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  8. Loved your post! I have generalized anxiety which includes social anxiety as well as being introverted. Your post made me laugh when talking about partying because I would both want to escape not because of negative thoughts running through my brain but because I would have enough and want to go home and be alone.

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  9. Hi there! Just wanted to say thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m an introvert myself, and this post clarifies a common misconception I’ve noticed when introversion is being discussed. Introversion and conditions like anxiety, depression, shyness etc. can occur in the same individual, but are definitely not the same! Thanks so much for posting πŸ™‚

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  10. As an introvert with social anxiety, this is so spot on. For the introvert side of me, it’s not that I don’t want to be around people, it’s that I both enjoy my alone time, and also prefer deeper, one on one type of interaction. i.e. I’d rather go to coffee and have a good talk with a close friend than go to happy hour with a group of acquaintances. But I still do want that social connection. The socially anxious side of me, however, even with one close friend having coffee, worries about things like, “Am i boring them? Are they only here becuase they felt bad or had no other plans? Am I drinking my coffee too loudly/eating my food wrong (legit worry of mine)? Am i talking to much or too loudly or too fast? I’m probably annoying them and they cna’t wait to leave.” And the list goes on. So they do cross over in that they look like we avoid social interaction, but the reasoning behind the two is very different.

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  11. Interesting view, I believe the learned behavior usually stems from acceptability From the ‘outside world’ or lack thereof. The choice to communicate with people or venture out everyday is definitely a person to person diagnosis. What a great article, and I most definitely agree to speak to a professional. Baby steps will help get you into the outside world and willingly communicate with others.

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  12. As a sufferer of social anxiety I can say the two are completely different. Social anxiety is one of the worst things ever and would not wish it upon my worst enemy. Not even Thanos (maybe I would actually) but yeah that I you for clarification to other who do not realise x

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  13. I am introverted and have social anxiety in varying degrees. My therapist is so awesome and helps me to figure out the things I should accept and love about myself–my quiet nature, doing things by myself, feeling deeply. But then challenges me to stretch in areas that are hard. One thing I had to figure out recently was how I don’t like rejection and I viewed not talking to people in the check out line as rude. We determined I was doing that out of fear–I don’t like criticism. But my introverted nature was like “what the hell?” because i was exerting energy on random strangers, even if they told me their entire life story in 5 minutes. I’d often walk away feeling like I just got hit by a bus because they just dumped all their emotions on me. My therapist told me not to do that. So now I say hi and don’t ask how they are doing. I reserve energy for the people that matter–this respects my introverted nature and it prevents my fear of criticism from winning. That’s just one example where I’ve had to learn how to honor my introversion and how to overcome my social anxiety.

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