Image by Beatrice Murch
Introverted does not mean shy. You can be a shy introvert or a shy extrovert. Being “shy” is a result of your confidence (or lack of confidence), but being introverted or extroverted is a description of how you process information (internally or externally) and how much time you spend “inside your head,” among other things.
I was reflecting on this after addressing a conference of over 200 people last week, and not feeling one bit shy about it. There was a time when I was shy. I have come a long way since then. I have many theories on the causes of my shyness. I think a big one was not realizing that I usually need to think before speaking. And while I was busy thinking, others were busy talking. When you do not understand that as an introvert, you generally think and then speak, while others speak in order to think, you can feel quite marginalized. And if you are feeling marginalized, you may think that others are better than you, and this can definitely lead to shyness.
Realizing that thinking first and then speaking is how I naturally operate has been quite liberating. I have overcome my shyness by understanding this about myself and by knowing that because of my introversion, I really do have some significant strengths. Part of what makes me great is the amount of time I spend in my head thinking. Great thoughts and ideas that benefit me and those around me are a direct result of the time I spend thinking.
I don’t feel that I am better than others, but at the same time I don’t feel that others are better than me. This realization has done wonders to free me from shyness. I now know how I work best. I am a thinker and may need some time to think. I am no longer afraid to address a large crowd, or small group, or an individual, because I understand myself and how to work with my strengths.
Formerly Shy, Now Happily Introverted
Introversion And Shyness Are Not The Same