The topic of social anxiety disorder (SAD) vs. shyness vs. introversion has been on my mind lately. There are differences between each of these and I have already written about the difference between shyness and SAD.
Let’s talk a bit about introversion… I have often thought that I was an extrovert at heart, but now, as I uncover the real me, I find that I may be more introverted.
An introvert is a person who gains strength from within. They can be social, but after attending a large social event, they may leave feeling exhausted. They feel the need for alone time to recharge. Extroverts thrive on socializing; they love connecting with other people and feel energized when they are at social events.
SAD is the fear of being watched of judged by others. The fear of embarrassment. A person with SAD can be introverted or extroverted – but someone with SAD may not know their true personality because negative thoughts take over and they have doubts about who they really are.
When someone knows deep in their heart that they are not being true to themselves, negative thoughts take control and anxiety will appear. We beat ourselves up for our inability to conform to societal expectations and do not recognize the steps we should take to re-energize – introverts need alone time and extroverts need people. Pay attention to when you feel more energized. For me, I do love socializing and meeting new people, but I recognize that I feel more energy when I meditate, journal and slow down long enough to breathe and be present with myself.
God made us all unique, and when we are still and quiet, we will begin to find our true selves. God sees all of us as perfect human beings and he offers us peace and joy. He loves us unconditionally. He has a plan for each of us, and once we are able to accept the negative thoughts, the power they have over us will lessen and the truth of our existence will become clearer.
Being an introvert is OK. Being an extrovert is OK. Accept yourself and recognize the way you need to recharge. If you are a parent, recognize what your child needs and help them to love themselves as they are – even if they are different than you.
In the end, just remember to pay attention to the real you. If you struggle with SAD, take steps to find the help you need, and once you get SAD under control, you will gain insight into your true personality. The you who has always been there. The you that God created. May you live from your heart and find the peace God has given you!