Introversion and shyness have been mistakenly seen as the same thing over the years but I'm glad to see that recently there has been more information about these people related concepts.
Just to clarify though, an introvert is somebody who gets energised by being by themselves. Although they are still able to socialise to a certain degree, being around people can drain them. The opposite of an introvert is an extrovert. Extroverts gain energy by socialising. An ambivert is both an introvert and an extrovert.
Shyness can affect both introverts and extroverts. A shy person may actually like people and could feel energised after being around them, however, they find it difficult to approach and speak to them. A lot of the time this is because of insecurities and a fear of being judged or ridiculed.
I used to be a very shy person. I'm also an introvert (although these days I've been thinking that I'm more ambivert). Below I'll share tips on being an introvert as well as how to overcome shyness.
Now the difficult thing about being an introvert is that some people don't understand why you need to be alone. So often you'll end up turning down invitations or ignoring people, coming across as an incredibly rude individual. If you are in the situation where your friends are becoming irritated with you, explain to them how you feel. You just feel like you can't function when you are around people. If you have true friends, they should understand. If they continue to pester you though, know that it's just their space and there isn't something wrong with you.
Often introverts end up giving in and going to these events because they don't want to come across as bad, boring friends. While I think you should compromise (I go to one party with you and next time we just watch t.v. at home) you should never make yourself attend things that drain you and make you unhappy.
Introversion is not something you should be ashamed of. Because we live in a very socialisey society, it is very easy to be seen as the odd one out. Odd one outs may be called out by the vast majority who don't understand. As a result, they could start to feel insecure about themselves.
There's nothing wrong with being an introvert and I don't want you to feel like you need to change yourself in some way. If you don't want to go out, don't go out. You should always do what's best for you and you shouldn't put yourself in situations that drain you. Again, people who criticise you don't understand. That's not your problem. Healthy and positive friends will respect your decision and give you space.
If you are interested in how to protect yourself and recover from negative people, please see the previous blog post: Protecting yourself and recovering from negative, draining energies.
I used to be incredibly shy and it's taken years to overcome this. In the beginning when I was still a child, my mom designed a block system. You take a piece of paper and draw grid lines, forming little blocks. Then each time you speak to somebody, you tick a block - or put a sticker in it - or colour it in. When all the blocks are finished, you get a prize.
I recommend that parents with shy children start this block system as it's a way to push your child out of their comfort zone. Although I used to get really angry with my mom each time she made me order at the restaurant, ask a person at school what their favourite colour is or purchase ice creams from the Ice Cream Man, they are things that I'm now grateful she made me do. I can see the benefit of being able to speak to people as it makes my life easier and I can have a positive impact on others.
The best way to overcome shyness is stepping out of your comfort zone and doing things that make you uncomfortable. The more people you talk to, the easier it becomes.
Now it's very important to investigate the cause of shyness and this investigation should take place before any block systems are put in place.
A shy person is insecure. You should then focus on building up their self-esteem. So if you have a shy child or friend, always be warm and accepting towards them. Tell them their good points and do not focus on the shyness. Every time people said, “Jessica, why are you so quiet?” I would just become more insecure and quiet since I would feel embarrassed and humiliated. I actually started to dislike myself.
When people were nice and patient around me, I would open up because I felt safe and free from judgement.
In order to get a shy child or person out of their comfort zone, they need to be told that they have worth. So instead of just saying, “You're too shy. Go and speak to that person over there so that you can get some practice and become more confident,” say, “You are a very funny person. I think it would be great if you spoke to that person over there because it looks like they're having a bad day and could do with a laugh.”
When I talk to people these days it's because I've told myself the difference I can make in their lives. I do still get that feeling of dread, and I feel quite nervous but the thing that gets me through is the thought of improving somebody's day. While my insecurities are still there, I'm not letting them stop me from doing something that is more important.
If you are a shy person reading this, know that you're awesome. Just see the shyness as an obstacle that you can work towards getting around. Almost like a game. You don't have to get over it in a day. It can take years. Just take small steps and each time you do something out of your comfort zone, praise yourself. It doesn't matter how little it is compared to what others are doing. The fact remains that you've taken a step closer to feeling at ease around people.
It's important to love yourself every step of the way. Constantly tell yourself positive things about yourself and think about what you can offer to the world. When you feel comfortable with yourself, you will feel more comfortable around others.
A final point I want to make is that a shy introvert should make the effort to speak to people but they need to be aware of the fact that others may drain them. So over the years I've pushed myself to speak to others and now I've reached the stage where I'm like, “I don't actually feel like speaking to that person.” Don't use introversion as an excuse though when you actually just feel shy. You'll know exactly why you don't want to speak to somebody and if you do just make excuses, you'll probably feel disappointed with yourself. Push yourself out of your comfort zone so that you can grow.