Introversion and Shyness
Cain (n.d.) suggests that there is a significant difference between shyness and introversion. According to her, shyness entails one’s fear of social judgment, whereas introversion is concerned with one’s response to stimulation, including social stimulation. While extroverts seek large amounts of stimulation, introverts tend to feel more alive and capable in quiet and serene environments.
Introversion and shyness are two distinct personality traits that are often wrongly assumed to be synonymous. According to the Myers-Briggs personality tests, introversion refers to one of the pairs in the test that receives a higher score if an individual revitalizes his or her energy through solitary activities, such as writing, reading or reflection. Conversely, shyness delineates one’s way of dealing with other people and strange situations. Shy people are often uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations and have a difficult time meeting and talking to new people (Yerkes, 2007).
Although both personality traits are unrelated, it is not uncommon that they are both present in the same person. A person may be introverted and shy while another may be introverted and not shy. While both traits are related to socialization, the fear of socializing found in shy people is completely different from the lack of interest in socializing that is often a character of introverts. Introverts do not consider the social interaction a necessity. The excessive social interaction may be physically and emotionally exhausting for them.
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On the other hand, shyness may be so severe that it is considered a mental health problem (Yerkes, 2007). Shy people want to have social interaction, but the fear in them cannot let them socialize. Shyness is fear-based and is environmentally acquired, implying that an introvert can also be shy. Introversion is a trait that one is born with and cannot be acquired from the environment or experiences.
Cain (n.d.) gives a story about the time he spent at a summer camp, and how she had carried a suitcase full of books. After being teased and discouraged from reading the books, she put them away for the rest of the summer. During the speech, she uses a suitcase full of books as a prop. As a parting shot, she emphasizes the importance of people declaring and portraying their character to the world by saying that we should “take a good look at what’s inside your suitcase and why you put it there.” Cain (n.d.) is trying to encourage people to search inside their hearts to find their true identity. It is important for people to realize and to let others know who they are and the value of what is in them. It is only in so doing that they will be comfortable and fulfilled in life.
I am not quite surprised that the results of my test show that I am an introvert. For a while now, I have been battling with the dilemma of where I fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Most times I enjoy solitude, but some time, I find myself in social places. This test clearly defines my character, which is quite fulfilling since I can now make choices that are in harmony with my temperament. While it was possible to predict the test results of some people, the results of other people were surprising. People who I believed were extroverts turned out to be introverts and vice versa. Personality traits are an intricate subject that one cannot predict with certainty.
Cain, S. (n.d.). The power of Introverts – Susan Cain. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://ed.ted.com/lessons/susan-cain-the-power-of-introverts
Yerkes, L. (2007). Fun works creating places where people love to work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
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