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Discussion Topic: Introversion and Social Anxiety Shame

I have typically considered myself to be a pretty introverted person, though I understand that everything should be measured on a scale (or more than likely, multiple scales). I spend a lot of time alone or with small of friends / family and can usually find something to occupy my time. Often I will get wrapped up in something that may be considered slightly obsessive to some (such as trying to make something perfect by tweaking it further and further) or doing something that could be considered procrastination from projects, tasks, and life experiences I know or feel that I should be doing. For example, rather than looking for new job opportunities or going to that party everyone seems excited about, I might spend 4 hours cataloging books I own and those I want to read in a spreadsheet and adding different ways of organizing the information. It’s possible I might be a little further along on the Asperger/Autism spectrum though I have not been tested for this.

I also suffer from several forms of anxiety including social anxiety and existential anxiety, so much of my life seems squeezed in between fears that weigh on every other decision. I want people to like me, so I try to at least do the minimum amount of social interaction to make this possible. I will often feel the peer pressure from others to be more social with them or with people in general. Whenever I choose not to do this, I feel a sense of shame and have a time expressing to people I chose not to be around them. I really dislike lying so I either try to choose my words carefully to just be vague or I avoid the subject. This discomfort with even discussing my introverted tendencies to avoid offending people has caused me to just keep many of my relationships at arm’s length.

Despite all this, I often do also feel lonely and crave some social interaction. I’ve noticed some introverts seem to rejoice in staying in on a Friday night, and I have definitely been there at times, but there is often a part of me that feels depressed that I am not going out and will spend another potentially memorable social experience alone instead. When others ask about my life, I often feel embarrassed to admit how little time I spend doing social things that seem to be what makes people interested. I also can’t help but feel like unless I reserve more time for social interaction and actually go out of my way, I’m going to just become more and more secluded, socially inept, and regretful of my life. Also, I do notice that sometimes social interaction drains me while other times it fills me with energy, it really seems to depend on the type of interaction and how well it ends up going.

Does this experience sound familiar to anyone else who considers themselves to be introverted? Or do you notice distinct differences? How would you say that introversion and social anxiety differ? Can a person be socially anxious and lean more toward the extroverted end of the scale? Any thoughts would be most appreciated!

#introvert #shame #anxiety #depression

LivingParadox 4 July 1
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Hey Matt,
You are in good company. Most of us here understand your feelings. I can for sure. A couple of my most valuable friendships were with introverted guys with issues. And even if it was just two of us, we had great times hangin out together, just being ourselves and doing whatever we enjoy. We did not need the big Friday party scene to have fun, and neither do you. I do not know your circle of friends. But if there is anyone that you think would be sensitive and compassionate, you might consider sharing your thoughts with him or her. I suspect the weight of your little secret is a heavy load to carry by yourself. And from my experience, once you cross over from just happy happy talk to real personal issues with the right person, a precious bond can form quickly. The person may be right under your nose, or you may have to keep your eyes open for a while. But when you find it, you will be glad you did.

Thanks a lot @balance_point for your response. I do have a few close friends with whom I can share this kind of experience of mine so that does help. I'm currently rooming with a friend who is a bit sensitive and sometimes perceives my preference to spend time alone as an indicator that I dislike his company specifically. I try to point out how little I spend with others but when I do actually spend time with others, it seems like he's keeping count. Recently we've worked through that so I think we are on the same page, but instance like this have sometimes caused me reason to worry about how my introversion is perceived. I honestly want other people to like me but I just don't want to spend as much time with them as they might with me.

1

I've been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and a bunch of other stuff. It's getting to the point I've literally cut everyone that was close to me out except my son.

WendyF Level 2 July 4, 2018

It can be tough to keep people close sometimes. I've mostly cut everyone except my immediate and a few friends close friends. I've had a hard time making any new friends and then actually hanging out with them outside of social functions (school, work, club, etc.). For a while I wondered if I had picked up this behavior from my parents (since they had very few people in their lives beyond the ), if it was genetic, or some combination.

1

I think this is yet another personality thing that is on a pretty large scale. I can deal with people or go to a party, I just prefer to not be in crowds or have to be at a gathering where it’s all people I don’t know. I think if things cause high anxiety, it’s time to get. Real pro help. Wishing you best luck

Iowaguitar Level 6 July 1, 2018

Thanks! And yes, I agree. I was on medication for a while but now am seeking treatment via psychotherapy.

1

I think that if I didn't care, I wouldn't have anxiety. My going out friend has a 'fuck 'em' attitude. He can talk to anyone, while I'm cowering just watching him work. I'm at the point where social interactions become deep with meaning, thus stressful affairs.

I’m always in awe when I encounter people who can handle any kind of social interaction like this. I really want to gain some resilience and take on the “don’t give a fuck what people think” mantle and I’m hoping to move more into this territory with my therapist’s help.

@LivingParadox good luck on your journey to not give a fuck. But I wonder how not giving a fuck can exist with being kind? There's a nuance there I'm not understanding.

@weelittleone My first rule has been to be kind, so yeah, I'm still not sure of how to balance that out.

2

Almost all of this sounds very familiar to me. I'm a guilty lonely mess most of the time.

MsAl Level 8 July 1, 2018

“Guilty lonely mess” does seem to apply to me a lot of the time as well. I feel a lot of shame for various things, some of which are literally just human nature or even just natural in general. I have been around enough self-righteous, opinionated minds to find plenty about my inadequacies to feel guilty for the rest of my life, but I’m working on self-compassion with my therapist right now and am looking forward to when we get to the deprogramming phase. @RapidCityKelly is right in saying that perception has a lot to do with getting better but I don’t believe that time heals all. I have found a lot of unresolved baggage from earlier in my life that still impacts my thoughts and behavior so I think that coming to terms with life in all its aspects is key.

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