Here's the thing about introversion: if you have it, you probably hate it, and if you don't have it, you can't possibly understand what it's like to have to deal with it on a daily basis. It's no joke - being an introvert can lessen the fun of day-to-day life because of the simple things other people can do that we can only hope for.
Extreme shyness can create extreme shortfalls.
When you have social anxiety, you may find that you spend a little more than enough time inside your own mind, and it can be difficult to be engaged in whatever activity you've found yourself participating in. If a professor so much as whispers the words "ice breaker," I oftentimes feel my heartbeat speed up, and before I know it, I'm overthinking the situation as I try to conjure up the right words to say when my name is called, and I end up zoning out on the class discussion that follows.
While many people who can't be referred to as shy are more than happy to take these social situations by the reins and really show off their character, the rest of us are left in the shadows wondering what in the world we have to do to be confident in ourselves like they are. Why does it get to be so natural for them when we struggle just to introduce ourselves to a class of strangers?
In today's world, there is no room to catch up.
Whether people realize it or not, those of us who struggle with anxiety in social situations really do want to be able to express ourselves as freely as extroverts do all the time, but it isn't nearly that simple. It's far too easy to overthink every social interaction you find yourself in, and you find yourself trying too hard to plan your next joke and losing the other person in the process.
You would think it's obvious that it would be smart to stop worrying so much about what others might not like about you, stop planning out your sentences, and just let the conversation progress naturally. Honestly, if it were as easy as simply knowing all of that and acting on it immediately, there would be no need for me to write any of this today. It is certainly a behavior that can be learned over time, but as one of many who have been slowly pushing for that progress in recent years, I can speak for plenty of other introverts when I say that it takes time to get there. Unfortunately, today's world is so communication-focused that one of the biggest struggles is finally conquering that one social feat with confidence, only to find that the bar has now been raised substantially higher.
Self-confidence is the only way to go!
At the end of the day, the only one who can truly go through with this process is you. Friends who understand your situation will always be there to support you, but unless you can understand that there is value in your own personality and that no one can ever take that from you, you will never be the confident person you could be otherwise.
I'm writing this primarily for my fellow introverts out there who need some encouragement, but all of this is just as necessary for me as well. Nobody is perfect, and we all have something we can improve on in any situation, not excluding social ones.
So go out there and start talking to some people! Take it slow and ease into it, but don't let yourself become so caught up in the possibility of things going wrong or becoming awkward. If all you want to do is sit within your own bubble to protect yourself from any possibility of an awkward conversation, you may miss out on meeting some amazing people who could change your life. And by slowly breaking out of your comfort zone and engaging them in a genuine discussion, you may just end up changing theirs too.