I recently read an article that made the claim extroverts will never understand that an introverted personality has multiple layers. I’m not going to link to this article because it’s not my intention to attack the writer, but I mention it to highlight a common misconception among introverts — that our personalities are more complex than extroverts.
The truth is, all people have layers. And we all — both introverts and extroverts — have a tendency to assume that how we see people act initially is how they act all the time. We meet someone who seems chatty and friendly, we assume they’re generally a talkative and friendly person. We meet someone who’s quiet and reserved, we assume they’re generally a private, quiet person.
But just as introverts don’t want people to assume they’re nothing more than a quiet person who doesn’t speak up much in crowds, extroverts don’t want people to assume there’s nothing more to them than the life-of-the-party social butterfly. We’re all complex, layered people with nuances to our personalities.
The Masks We Wear
Introverts often talk about how we wear different “masks” in different situations. We have our social mask that we put on when hanging out with a group or meeting new people. In this mask, we can be so engaging and talkative that sometimes people might even mistake us for extroverts. And we might have other masks, too — the professional one we put on for work, the polite one we wear interacting with retail workers, the “don’t talk to me” one we wear when in a public place and we don’t want disturbed.
We don’t usually think of the version of ourselves we show the world (especially new acquaintances) as a complete picture of who we really are. Introverts tend to be private people who keep a large part of their personalities hidden. We take time to open up to people and let them see behind any of our masks.
The thing is, extroverts do this too. Even the most social extrovert has layers to their personality that they don’t share with everyone. Extroverts also wear masks to fit in with different social situations and groups, just like introverts do. Depending on their personality type and individual preferences, some extroverts might be even more private than introverts regarding their personal lives. Read more →
After learning about Myers-Briggs® types and taking a few tests, one question you might have is how to tell which of two similar types you are. Taking multiple online tests often gives you several different results, so that’s one way this question can come up. Or maybe you started reading about the types and realized more than one sounds like you.
If you’re trying to decide whether you’re more of an INTJ or an INTP type, I hope this article helps. Just looking at the letters in these two types, we might think the only difference between them is that one’s a perceiving type and one is a judging type. This is only party true. When we dive deeper into the cognitive functions each Myers-Briggs® type uses, it become easier to see the differences and similarities between these two types’ mental processes more clearly.
The way these cognitive functions work together makes INTPs and INTJs similar in some ways and very different in others. They might seem near-identical times but their underlying thought patters and motivations don’t look nearly as much alike as you might think. Read more →
One question you might have after learning about Myers-Briggs® types and taking a few tests is how to tell which of two similar types you are. Maybe the online tests you took gave you a couple different results. Or maybe you started reading about the types and discovered more than one that sounds a lot like you.
If you’re trying to decide whether you’re more of an INFJ or an INFP type, I hope this article will help. Just looking at the letters in these personality types, we might think the only difference between them is that one is a perceiving type and one is a judging type. This is only party true. When we dive deeper into the cognitive functions that describe the mental processes each Myers-Briggs® type uses, it become easier to see the differences and similarities between these two types more clearly.
The way these cognitive functions work together makes INFPs and INFJs similar in some ways and very different in others. They might seem near-identical times but their underlying thought patters and motivations don’t look nearly as much alike as you might think. Read more →
One of the most common stereotypes around Myers-Briggs® types as they relate to the world of fiction is that most villains are NT types. Not all of course (I even have a whole post about the comparatively rare NF-type villains), but it does seem that an unusually large percentage of bad guys in fiction have an NT personality type. Specifically, we see the INTJ “Mastermind” filling the ranks of villains probably more often than any other type. ENTJs might come close, but they’re less often stereotyped as the villain. Maybe they just have better PR teams.
Casting these types as villains makes for some of the most calculating, clever, and creepy antagonists in fiction. But what (if anything) does it tell us about real-life INTJs and ENTJs? Are they secretly as evil as their fictional counterparts? Or do we stereotype these personalities as “evil” because we simply don’t understand them?
Every person has the potential to use their talents and gifts for good or evil; to choose the light or the dark. This holds true for INTJs and ENTJs, and we do them a great disservice if we assume they’re evil or treat them as the villain without getting to know them as they truly are.
There some great posts out there (like this one from Introvert, Dear) combating the whole “INTJs are villains” thing. Today, though, I want to take some of those villainous stereotypes and see if we can use them to learn something about the real-life INTJs and ENTJs in our lives. Read more →
Introversion is not the same thing as being shy. Every decent definition of “introvert” makes that distinction. Being an introvert means the outer world drains you and the inner world recharges you. Being shy means you get nervous and self-conscious when in social situations. They’re different things.
But what if you’re an introvert who’s also shy?
Even though shyness and introversion are different, there are quite a few introverts who are also shy (it’s worth noting there are also shy extroverts as well, though they’re not the focus of this post). And when you’re a shy introvert, there are certain struggles that other introverts don’t always resonate with. In today’s post, we’ll talk about 10 that I’ve dealt with.
1) You don’t always fit in with the introverts
I struggle with social anxiety. When I first started reading about introversion, I kept coming across people saying things like “introverts aren’t shy” or “introverts aren’t socially awkward.” This made me feel a little out-of-place. I’m an introvert and I’m also shy and socially awkward. So where do I fit in? I’m sure I’m not the only shy introvert who has asked themselves this question.
2) You wonder if you need to change
Introversion is an inborn personality trait and it’s not something that you need to “fix.” Social anxiety is a mental-health disorder that can negatively impact your life, and it’s a good idea to seek professional counseling if you’re struggling with that. But what about the in-between area where shyness lives? For those who are more shy than other introverts but not always socially anxious, it can be a struggle to figure out how much of your shyness is just part of your personality and how much is something you might want to work on overcoming.
3) People mistake your intentions
I’ve had so many people mistake me for being rude or stuck-up simply because my shyness made it hard for me to join-in to groups. I don’t think I’m better than others just because I’m off on the side watching instead of in the middle of the dance floor gyrating. I don’t mean to be rude when I have trouble coming up with small talk when I first meet someone. And I’ve talked with or read articles by many introverts who face this struggle, especially if they’re also shy.
4) Starting a conversation is hard
Actually, “hard” doesn’t do the feeling justice. It’s more like well-nigh impossible at times. Not only are you more comfortable inside your safe introvert shell, but you also have your shyness worrying about how terribly wrong this conversation could go. Maybe they’ll think it’s weird you started a conversation with them. Maybe you’ll run out of things to say and embarrass yourself. Maybe you’ll want to escape the conversation later and won’t know how. You know you’re probably over-thinking things, but it still makes starting a conversation challenging.
5) Sometimes you just need to leave
Being in groups of people can be a struggle for any introvert. But when you’re shy on top of being introverted there are going to be times when you’re in a group of people and suddenly feel like you just have to leave RIGHT NOW. Maybe this is more my anxiety speaking than my shyness, but sometimes I just hit a point where I’m overwhelmed and/or totally drained and I have to bail on a group, event, or other gathering. In many cases, my energy starts to return as soon as I’m alone.
6) You feel underestimated
Sure you’re not the most outgoing person around, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable skills and talents. Unfortunately for shy introverts, people often assume that because we’re hesitant to speak up it means we don’t have anything valuable to contribute. That can lead to people vastly underestimating us. From people talking over you in meetings to people assuming you can’t handle a task on your own, it’s often quite a challenge to try and convince others to stop underestimating you.
7) Avoiding people you know
Introverts, even shy ones, don’t hate people. But we vastly prefer interacting with people when we can plan ahead for it. Bumping into people accidentally seems incredibly awkward. If we spot someone we know out in public and they haven’t seen us yet, there’s a good chance we’ll go out of our way to avoid running into them. We might also avoid planning activities with people because we know they’ll be draining and overwhelming, so it just seems easier to not go in the first place than to leave early.
8) Your body gives away your shyness
Shyness and anxiety have some very real physical effects and sometimes they’re impossible to hide. One minute you seem calm, put-together, and in control of the situation. You might be worried on the inside but outside you can make it seem like everything’s okay. Then suddenly your palms are sweating, your voice starts shaking, and your nerves take over so much that you’re not even sure what you’re saying anymore. It’s embarrassing, but it’s not something we’re really in control of so we just have to live with it (though there are grounding techniques that can help).
9) You agree to things you don’t want to
Fear of confrontation is something lots of people struggle with, and it can be a particular challenge for shy introverts. It’s hard enough talking to people at all but when you have to contradict them it’s, like, 100 times more difficult. So you might end up agreeing to things you don’t want to or losing arguments that you should have won. It can get pretty frustrating at times. And if you avoid conflict too much, you might also have to deal with the added uncomfortableness of later trying to get out of something you agreed to when you were too shy to speak up.
10) You listen better than you speak
Listening is an underappreciated skill that shy people are often really good at. Just because social situations make us anxious doesn’t mean we’re not attuned to other people and their needs. Many of us are really good listeners and we’re often much more happy sitting back and listening than with taking a more active role in the conversation. We get so comfortable listening that it can be really jarring when someone encourages us to speak up more. In fact, the more someone draws attention to the fact that we’re not speaking “enough,” the less likely we are to want to say anything.
What are your experiences with living as a shy introvert? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
When someone’s looking for their Myers-Briggs® type I usually suggest they take several different tests and compare results. But what happens when you get different results, say, INTJ in one test and ENTJ on another? Or maybe you take the tests a couple months apart and get different answers, or start reading about the different types and discover more than one that sounds a lot like you.
If you’re trying to decide whether you’re an INTJ or an ENTJ, I hope this article will help. Just looking at the names of these personality types, we might think the only difference is that one is more extroverted than the other. That’s only party true, though. When we dive deeper into the cognitive functions that describe the mental processes each Myers-Briggs® type uses, it gets easier to see the differences and similarities between these two types more clearly.
If you’re not familiar with cognitive functions, click here to read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever.” INTJ and ENTJs both use the same cognitive functions. They just use them in a different order of preference, as shown in this graphic:
The way these cognitive functions work together makes ENTJs and INTJs very different in certain ways and very similar in others. Thankfully for those wanting to figure out which of these two types they are, several key differences in how INTJs and ENTJs learn information and approach the world make it possible for us to tell these types apart. Read more →