The Plight of the Shy Extrovert

The shell must break before the bird can fly.

– Tennyson

People give me energy, performing leaves me high and passionate, spirited crowds give me a buzz. Yet, often I’ll be the quiet one in the room. I’m a shy extrovert and it’s all a bit awkward.

For years I thought I was an introvert. It has been how I accept that I am not always the life and the soul, or the most energetic room. It is the reason I sometimes prefer to lock myself away and work independently, without the hustle and bustle of a distracting crowd.

Yet those life-and-soul moments – when they do happen – feel so good. As much as I rarely feel it, I’ve somehow always convinced friends and family that I’m confident. Then I came across this wonderful infographic from Quill. It may had taken me until my thirties, but I finally realised I’ve been battling with shyness.

Common Signs of Shyness, Quill

Introverted or Shy?

It is said that while introverts prefer quiet environments (confident or not), us shy types fear negative judgement. I’ve always told myself I don’t care what people think. The reality is I worry about coming across as something I’m not. That’s the perfectionist in me. It’s not about living up to anyone else’s ideals, but just meeting my idea of what’s “good enough”. Psychological issues aside, this makes me a shy extrovert and adds another piece to my self-awareness jigsaw.

You might recognise some of what I have already mentioned. If you are wondering if you have just acquired yourself a new label (wear it, don’t wear it, it’s up to you), here are some signs to look out for.

5 Signs That You’re a Shy Extrovert

  1. You can take a while to warm up to a new crowd… but get a buzz from genuine, social interactions and positive recognition
  2. You are often rewarded with an energy kick when you push through that inevitable stage-fright
  3. You’re a good listener, as you enjoy connecting with people and will focus on what the other person wants to talk about
  4. You love big, loud parties, but smaller gatherings can make you feel uncomfortable
  5. Others have perceived you as cold, distant or uninterested in the past, but the reality is you were conscious of giving the wrong impression (oh, the irony!)

It can be difficult for people to accept that one person can come across as confident and suffer from shyness, or even social anxiety. I’m my best ‘me’ when I’m genuinely confident, but I’ve faked confidence and been both shy and socially anxious (note that the two are different). We aren’t all as we seem. For the shy extrovert, it might only take someone else to strike up a conversation to settle nerves. Until that point, shyness can be perceived as cold, aloof, or even rude to the outside world.

This has been a huge learning curve for me. Realising that I gain energy from social interactions has changed how I push through my shyness. Forcing myself into uncomfortable situations in the past few months has given me more high-energy moments.

If you a shy extrovert, how have you pushed through your shyness to enjoy being the real, extroverted you? Has discovering more about how extroverted or introverted you really are made a difference to your own self-development?


    1. That’s really interesting, Cristian. I suppose the biggest difference would be whether you feel comfortable in what you feel are your introverted tendencies. If not, perhaps you are more comfortable and natural as an extrovert. I hope this has at least been thought-provoking!

      Liked by 1 person

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