Social traits

Social Anxiety Disorder vs Introversion: Where Do You Stand?

If you are the type that prefers being alone and do less of sticking around friends or the type that feels super anxious about going into social gatherings or do you find it hard to speak in public? Are you the shy and reserve type?

Do you develop sweaty palms or does your heart race and you start trembling when you are about to meet new people? Does that define you as an introvert or worse?

With you, I will be sharing a few people’s symptoms and experiences to understand the term introverts and social anxiety disorder.

But first, who is an introvert? What is social anxiety disorder?

Introvert

An introvert has act-based introversion; which is a personality trait and as an introvert, you might find that you like solitude, having a private time pursuing your interest. Introverts tend to; dislike confrontation and express themselves through art or with people they are comfortable with.

Social anxiety disorder

However, this is a mental condition. Living with social anxiety, or phobia simply means you experience extreme and significant nervousness and fear of social interactions. People in this category tend to; worry about what people think about them and fear being judged negatively.

Let’s start the survey!

  • Rachel (a writer and editor)who is always indoor shares her experience

“I prefer to stay indoors and as a writer, I had the opportunity to work from home and edit people’s work in the comfort of my home. The company that hired me agreed to let me work at my convenience, and they pay for my work. I don’t see the reason I should associate with other writers so I’ve never physically associated with many writers and I work alone. I don’t interact with my neighbors and I believe they should respect my privacy I’ve created my boundaries cause they don’t disturb me. I order whatever I need online and I don’t go out if it’s not necessary”

  • Fumi (A Student):

“Technically, if we just met I probably won’t interact with you as much, because to me It feels very uncomfortable to be open with new people in a new environment. When I got admitted to University, I cherished being in my own company than with my fellow students. I only go to class and return home afterward, that changed a few weeks later when I built my confidence to step out of my shell, I started to get comfortable around people and I moved with them a couple of times, but sometimes it’s overwhelming to be among the peers, many a time I want to withdraw and  just be by myself”

  • Mustafa (A Doctor):

“I am mostly so caught up with work in the hospital to attend to any other agenda. My colleagues do hang out and all…but I prefer to just work. It’s more comfortable, it keeps my mind active and busy too. I don’t have to worry about what to wear on a date or to a party”

  • James (An Artist):

“There was a time I started to bring my piece of art for the world to see, I didn’t know I would have to meet a lot of people along the line. It made me anxious and I started to regret ever getting on the spotlight. I was supposed to present a speech at my art debut, but the crowd I saw caught me off guard. I was supposed to be excited, but I was tongue-tied I begin to fear I may not be as good as they wanted or presumed. I lost my speech as I start to stutter and then I couldn’t breathe as my heart raced. I fainted”

James never wish to be in the crowd again

  • Alfred (A Freelancer):

“I closed my door and I forget about the external world. I play video games and work from home. I would love to explore the world someday, but not today, these are what I say to myself every morning, yet I don’t think I’m ready to face the world. What if they don’t accept me for who I am? I had been bullied and racially discriminated because of my reserve nature. Whenever I go out, the hassle just plays in my head and I just get homesick”

  • Aisha (A Salesgirl):

“Whenever I have to attend to customers, I get nervous. I don’t look them in the eye and I use to try to hide the fact that my hands keep trembling when interacting with a new client. But something always tells me they saw through me. I feel exposed most of the time and when I get scolded by my boss, I get panic attacks”

  • Zubair (A Teacher):

“I have a student in my class, he’s always by himself. No one talks to him and he talks to nobody. During lunch hour, he would hide underneath his desk to eat to avoid being seen. Sometimes I would try to interact with him but he hardly even talked, he would just nod and look down at his feet. I think he’s self-effacing,”

  • Chidinma (A Ballerina):

“Dancing has been the only thing that keeps my soul uplifted, and as a dancer, I had to show the world how great I can be. But I struggle with focusing because I’m too anxious thinking about what everyone sees when they look at me, so I keep asking myself if I’ve lived up to everyone’s expectations to the extent I faltered in my steps during these times, and it’s frustrating”

From the survey, I think you can tell a difference.

Yes, you can be an introvert and still have a social phobia, but having a social phobia doesn’t necessarily mean you are an introvert. There’s just a thin line. An introvert can work on drawing energy internally but a social phobia person always stresses and worry which would further lock that person out, however, that can be treated.

You should reach out when your symptoms are similar to that of James or Aisha. Most people do go to therapy, opening up to an expert will better help to understand how to work with anxiety disorder. If your case is like that of funmi or Mustafa, then you might just stick to what’s comfortable. If you are shy like the boy Zubair talked about, you might need help to bring out your confidence.