BY SABRINA WONG
From a vague perspective, quietness is a term associated with those who like to stay silent most of the time. But in a more in-depth point of view, one comes to realize that “quiet” can mean more than just not speaking up.
Introversion and shyness are both characterized by the similar exterior trait of quietness. However, despite the alike look from the outside, the two are not the same. There is a fine line between labeling someone as an introvert and them simply being a shy person.
Contrary to shyness, introverts favor spending time in calm, minimally stimulating environments. After socializing with people, they become drained out and need to recharge. In order to fuel up this energy again, introverts are known to keep to themselves.
Introverts’ brains respond to dopamine— a neurotransmitter— differently than extroverts’ brains. Therefore, being an introvert is not a choice. Certain people are just born that way and don’t have control over whether they grow up to be an introvert or an extrovert.
While it is common to find a shy person sometimes sitting alone, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re on their own because they feel worn out. Shyness is a personality trait where individuals are afraid to interact with others, even though they may not always want to be left alone.
Introverts favor spending time in calm, minimally stimulating environments.
Unlike introversion, shyness is not an innate characteristic, meaning that it can be manipulated. Children who are shy at a young age are able to grow out of being timid as they get older. Shyness is more of a mental block, which ultimately can be defeated by one’s determination to conquer it.
Although many believe that introverts are always shy, that is not the case. There are plenty of children, teenagers and adults who are classified as introverts but have excellent social skills. Just because one may become stressed out after being around others for too long, they are still capable of successfully interacting with a group of individuals. Introverts just need to recharge their emotional “batteries” back up by spending time with themselves afterward.
The saying that shy extroverts don’t exist is also a common misconception. When someone feels afraid to talk to people, it is still possible that they could hold outgoing personalities. Shy individuals are easily frightened away and fear judgment. However, they may still feel energized around their close group of friends and family members.
“I do find myself to be shy at times, but I’m still normally always social around all my friends,” junior Sarah Qazi said. “People who don’t know me often see me as the quiet girl, but the inner me is brought out the most when I’m comfortable around the people I’m with.”
“People who don’t know me often see me as the quiet girl, but the inner me is brought out the most when I’m comfortable around the people I’m with.”
Despite society deeming the introverted and the shy as less capable in life, they should be treated the same way as extroverts. Even though they don’t thrive under social stimulation, introverts and reserved people find their own ways to cope with fueling energy back into their system.
According to Eysenck’s Personality Theory, extroverts inherit an under-aroused nervous system. This causes them to seek out more stimulating events that will allow them to reach the normal state of arousal. Introverts are the opposite, where they already feel over-aroused or just have high levels of arousal in general. When it doesn’t take much activity or interaction for them to raise their levels to the normal state, it becomes easy for introverts to feel overwhelmed in stimulating environments.
Introversion and shyness are not in any way the same qualities and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Introverts feel emotionally drained after hanging out with a group of people, which is why they need time alone to regain the energy that was lost while socializing. Shy individuals are just scared to interact with a new group.
Being an introvert is also not up to the individual to decide. Often, people are just born with that specific characteristic. Shyness, though, is a psychological barrier, so it can be overcome if one tries hard enough to do so.
From the outside, introversion and shyness can look similar based on quietness. But in reality, the depth of quietness can be observed in people with various types of personalities— not all of which are the same.
Photo by Alexa Jaspan