What It's Like To Be An Extrovert With Social Anxiety
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Health and Wellness

What It's Like To Be An Extrovert With Social Anxiety

Because extroversion isn’t always about being naturally good at talking with people.

What It's Like To Be An Extrovert With Social Anxiety
Xavier Sotomayor

Growing up, I was the "shy kid." I didn’t talk much to other people, and when I did talk, it was with a few select people whom I trusted. My entire life, everyone around me considered me to be “shy,” so I just assumed that I was introverted. After all, only introverts are shy. Their ability to be good at talking with people is what makes them an introvert, right? After learning that the defining feature of extroversion versus introversion stemmed from where you get your energy from, I realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong. I let my friends, my family, pretty much everyone in my life call me an introvert because I assumed that because I was shy and didn’t seem to enjoy social interaction, I must have been an introvert. I have never been naturally good at talking to people, so there’s no way I could ever naturally be extroverted.

After moving out of my parents’ house and transferring to a university, I was given the opportunity to figure out who I really was without the interference of the opinions of people that have known me for years. I was a blank slate, free to get to know myself without other people telling me about their seasoned perception of me. It’s been a great experience so far, but I learned very quickly that I’m not, in fact, introverted at all.

I’m actually an extrovert; I just have developed social anxiety, making it very difficult for me to express how extroverted I am.

I can’t say I know how it began, but a large part of it has to do with the fact that I was bullied from a very young age. Whether it was me trying to make friends and being rejected for unknown reasons, getting picked on for having a “weird” sense of humor or not having all of the right hobbies, or being embarrassed or otherwise discouraged for trying to do conventionally extroverted things such as the performing arts, being the “quiet kid” became a very learned behavior for me. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to people; I really, really do. I want to be friends with everyone, go out and meet new and interesting people every day, and get so involved with clubs, organizations, and projects that I overbook my schedule. I thrive on being busy and having things to do. I just don’t know how to do any of those things because I was bullied into quietness. Any time that I tried to come out of my shell, I was shoved right back into my little “quiet kid” corner. Whenever I wanted to speak my mind, I never knew what to say (and for an extroverted English major, that shouldn’t be common). Because no one ever encouraged me to be outgoing. I was reprimanded for it because I wasn’t the right kind of outgoing. That has now manifested itself into social anxiety, a collection of learned behaviors that prevent me from socializing even though that is literally how I get my energy.

This is what it’s like to be an extrovert with social anxiety:

It’s desperately wanting to go out and make friends, but staying in because you’re afraid people will hate you ten minutes after meeting you.

It’s going to an event because you want to have fun, but not talking to anyone because you’ve been socially trained not to, and thus not having any fun at the event.

It’s having so much to do, but stressing about getting anything done because you have no energy for not getting enough social interaction.

It’s making several acquaintances with interesting and wonderful people, but never crossing the boundary into a genuine friendship because you’re afraid that if you reveal too much or talk too much, they’ll get irritated with you and stop wanting to be around you.

It’s being in a conversation with multiple people and not knowing what to say because you were never encouraged to be a part of big group conversations.

It’s feeling so deprived of energy for long periods of time that when you finally get around to human interaction, you’re too hyped up to finally be getting to talk to people so you shut down again because you’re afraid of being perceived as annoying.

It’s wanting to be hyper and loud and take part in little snippets of everyone’s conversations, but holding back out of fear of seeming annoying.

Having social anxiety is not fun whether you’re introverted or extroverted. But social anxiety to an extrovert is a completely different monster than it is an introvert. Of course all forms of social anxiety are awful, and I will never be that gal who tells others to not be upset because someone else has it worse, but in case you didn’t think that it was possible to have social anxiety if you’re an extrovert, I’m here to tell you that it is possible. It’s possible, and it’s a whole new frontier of debilitating. When an extrovert has social anxiety, they’re not just afraid of certain kinds of social interaction; they’re effectively cutting themselves off from the very thing that gives them energy because of those fears. It destroys them in a unique, twisted way, and it’s awful. 0/10, would not recommend.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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