Introversion is commonly confused with social anxiety. Since most people are not aware of the differences between the two, it’s easy to mistake an extrovert with social anxiety for an introvert, and vice versa.
In reality, though, introversion is a distinct character trait whereas social phobia is a mental disorder.
So what if you are not an introvert but a socially anxious extrovert? Read through the signs below.
6 Signs You Are Not an Introvert but an Extrovert with Social Anxiety
1. Social events make you feel both excited and scared
Contrary to the popular misconception, introversion is not about a lack of social skills – it is about the source of energy. The quiet ones gain energy from solitary, relaxing endeavors while extroverts receive it during communication and more intense activities.
That’s why introverts don’t find big social gatherings rewarding. They rarely get enthusiastic about attending parties and loud events because they know they’ll get exhausted quickly.
When you are an extrovert, you get excited about social activities even if they scare you. Yes, your social anxiety doesn’t allow you to fully enjoy yourself, but you still get rewarded by being around people.
Thus, a clear sign that you are a socially anxious extrovert is that social events evoke mixed emotions in you, leaving you feeling both thrilled and terrified. No surprise that such an emotional cocktail brings your anxiety to an overwhelming level.
2. You want to expand your social circle but find it difficult to meet new people
While introverts are not people-haters or hermits (contrary to another widespread myth), it’s true that they prefer to keep their social circles small.
They see no point in wasting their energy on superficial social connections. The quiet ones seek to surround themselves with loyal and like-minded friends instead of hanging out with many different people.
Extroverts, in turn, enjoy the diversity of social connections, which brings them fulfillment. Thus, if you suffer from social anxiety as an extrovert, most likely, you still want to expand your social circle. At least, you dream about it.
The problem is that your uncomfortable experiences with social interaction make it extremely hard to meet new people and make friends. As you can see, being an extrovert with social anxiety is a real struggle.
3. Your anxiety clearly stems from the fear of rejection
It’s natural to want to be an accepted member of society and have a certain degree of respect and validation from those around you. But extroverts tend to have a greater need for social approval because they find it more rewarding and important than their quiet counterparts.
Therefore, they are more likely to fall victims to the unhealthy fear of rejection, which can lead to social phobia if paired with childhood trauma or a history of abuse and neglect.
As an extrovert suffering from social anxiety, your mind gets overwhelmed with the images of a possible embarrassment every time you attend a party or a gathering.
You have a persistent fear that something will go wrong, you will make a mistake, and ridicule yourself in front of others. Maybe you will drop your glass or say something stupid. And everyone will think you are a weirdo and won’t want to talk to you.
It’s an established point of view that social anxiety disorder stems from the irrational fear of being rejected, ridiculed, and judged. And an extrovert affected by this mental issue fits this pattern to a T.
However, there is more to this mental disorder, and I have explored it in these articles about the neglected causes of social anxiety and empathic sensitivity, as well as in my book.
4. You have an intense feeling of inadequacy in social settings
We all feel inadequate from time to time. Introverts certainly do – social expectations often make us feel as if we are flawed and need to be fixed.
But in the case of extroverts with social anxiety, this feeling is more intense and pervasive. Since social affiliation is vital for this personality type, it’s twice as difficult when they experience issues with communication.
You desperately want to be accepted in a group, make friends, share your thoughts, and be funny, but your social anxiety doesn’t allow you to. In your mind, you imagine how great it would be if you could just be yourself around other people.
Every extrovert with social anxiety secretly wants to cope with their insecurities and become the life and soul of the party. And that’s why they feel so painfully inadequate in social settings.
After all, it’s not easy to just get rid of your fears and suddenly become outgoing and relaxed when your anxiety is crippling you. It certainly can’t happen overnight.
For introverts, it doesn’t work this way – they tend to be less interested in getting attention and popularity. They are perfectly comfortable just staying quiet and occasionally participating in conversations.
5. You worry excessively about other people’s opinions
As we said, extroverts tend to care more about the impression they make on other people. That’s why those of them who suffer from social anxiety will worry a lot about others’ opinions.
During and after a social situation, you overanalyze everything that seemed wrong: that guy’s disapproving glance, your co-worker’s question that sounded like there was some hidden meaning in it, and the words you said.
“I shouldn’t have said this. Now she’ll think I’m a total loser”
“Why would she ask me about my mother? She must be thinking I’m a mummy’s boy”
Thoughts like these ones pop up in your head and you beat yourself up for behaving like a weirdo and saying the wrong things.
You feel like people don’t like you and will judge you no matter what you say or do. This feeling haunts every social anxiety sufferer but is particularly difficult for extroverts because they long for fondness and appreciation more than introverts do.
6. You secretly crave attention but are terrified by it at the same time
There is nothing worse for a social anxiety sufferer than getting everyone’s attention in any way – even a positive one. Giving a speech or performance in front of other people is a living nightmare for a person with social phobia.
But at the same time, extroverts find being in the spotlight highly rewarding. So here comes another controversial trait of a socially anxious extrovert – they are absolutely terrified by the attention but also secretly crave it.
You may dream about success, praise, and getting everyone’s respect. You imagine how awesome it would be if you could get rid of your insecurities and become confident and assertive. All those people who ignore you now would finally see your worth! These kinds of thoughts make perfect sense if you are an extrovert.
This personality type is driven by external rewards, which means that they feel tremendously satisfied when they receive praise and approval from other people. An introvert, on the contrary, shows less interest in chasing these rewards.
Are You a Socially Anxious Extrovert?
It’s obvious that being an extrovert with social anxiety is a challenging experience. The very essence of your personality comes in conflict with your performance in social situations.
I would say that extroverts affected by this mental disorder struggle as twice as introverts because their social needs remain unfulfilled.
Of course, the quiet ones crave contact with other human beings and have these needs too, but they are happier with less communication. It gives them an advantage when living with social anxiety.
Therefore, if you are a socially anxious extrovert, you may want to put some effort into overcoming your issues and even consider getting professional help. You will be happier if you tame your anxiety and get the chance to enjoy interaction with other people.
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This Post Has One Comment
I’m definitely not an extrovert. I hate loud and obnoxious people, but at the same time there is something that I admire about extroverts and it’s that you don’t have to guess their intentions as much as you would have to with introverts. I hate guessing someone’s true intentions, because I’m not good at it. Extroverts seem more open and there is more certainty with them and I just love to have certainty. It seems easier to me to communicate with extroverts, they are easygoing and I like that.