Introverted or Shy?

I was reading “An Introvert’s Guide to Networking” and the comments that followed, and something bothered me about the comments. A lot of the people that commented seem to equate “introvert” with “shy.” They are not the same thing (wikipedia even agrees with me).

As an introvert, I prefer solitary activities. I am not a particularly social person, although I do enjoy being around close friends (just not all the time). Even when it comes to my friends and family I need time alone to recharge. I like being alone, and I like thinking deeply without interruptions. A lot of these characteristics fit the definition of introvert, and yet I am not at all shy.

Depending on which site or dictionary* you look at, shy is defined as something along the lines of this:

1. Easily startled; timid. 2. a. Drawing back from contact or familiarity with others; retiring or reserved.

I do not fear or draw back from interaction with others. I am not easily startled, and I don’t think anyone that actually knows me would ever say I’m timid. Reserved at times, I suppose.

Anyway, it bothered me that people didn’t know the difference between “shy” and “introverted.” At a networking event, a shy person would be afraid to introduce themselves or talk to anyone. An introvert would simply prefer a more intimate event or a smaller group, but they may still easily introduce themselves or start a conversation. You might, of course, be both introverted and shy – in which case I wish you the best of luck, but I definitely do not envy you.

* Originally I didn’t even include “dictionary” here: sign of the times?

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3 thoughts on “Introverted or Shy?

  1. Donald Miller says:

    Yeah, it’s a complex subject. We introverts are highly intelligent, and yet misunderstood folk. I don’t care for huge crowds, preferring the company of a smaller more intimate circle of like-spirited people. On Facebook, I only have four friends. I’ll never understand what kind of satisfaction someone might gain from having 3500 “friends.” I also enjoy my own company. I’m by myself most of the time, but that only makes me enjoy the time I spend with others all the more.

    • I’m not sure I would agree with the statement that introverts are highly intelligent. Misunderstood? Yes. Intelligent? Not at all necessarily.

      • Donald Miller says:

        Well, we are both introverts. And we are both highly intelligent, so it only stands to reason that all introverts are highly intelligent. 😉

        Moreover, who but an extraordinarily smart person would choose that delightful snowman image as her online icon?

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