When You're an Anxious Introvert
Being anxious does not automatically mean you are an introvert, just like being an introvert does not automatically mean that you are a chronically anxious person. But in my experience, this has gone hand in hand, and sometimes it feels like it is hard to separate the two.
What Is an Introvert?
Introversion involves a preference for calm, quiet environments. Introverts are typically considered to be shy; however, being introverted and being shy is not the same thing. Introverts tend to draw their energy from within rather than from outside of them. I feel as though, many times, social anxiety and introversion are seen as very similar; however, they are different, and understanding this about yourself can be important for coping effectively.
As an introvert myself, I've found that what helps me to function are peaceful environments. I have a difficult time in noisy, chaotic environments. I often enjoy time alone or being in the company of others who are also comfortable being lost in their own thoughts.
As an introvert, when I am in highly stimulating environments, this makes it difficult for me to function, and then, what I find is that my anxiety kicks in. My heart will start racing, I will start feeling flushed and start sweating, and I'll have a hard time thinking straight. Then, if there are others around me, particularly if I am in a social situation, it becomes difficult to interact comfortably. This is one of the reasons that I often prefer to surround myself with people with whom I feel fully comfortable and at ease around.
In the work that I do, I do a lot of public speaking, and it is something that I enjoy and am passionate about. So I've had to look closely at what I struggle with and how I can overcome these challenges.
What I've Learned From Anxiety and Introversion
Throughout the years, I have always felt as though I needed to be more active in social situations. I've always wanted to be a person that can easily walk into a room and talk to people I don't know without having to feel anxious and self-conscious. But what I've learned is that it's okay if I am this person. I am someone who struggles with anxiety, and I am naturally introverted, and those are two things that are okay for me to be.
I've also learned that being aware of this helps keep me from trying to be someone I am not. Rather, I need to accept my struggles and learn how to function without worrying about why I can't.
Being able to accept these things has kept me from stepping outside of my comfort zone just because I think I'm supposed to, and instead, stepping outside of my comfort zone because I know it's important for my growth. I know that if I am constantly in overwhelming situations, this is not preferable for me as an introvert, but it is also hard for me to cope because of my anxiety.
And so, I've learned that, while this will always be a work in progress for me, self-awareness is a key factor in calming both my anxiety and my introverted nature. Being self-aware and mindful of my thoughts and feelings, as well as my anxiety symptoms, in and of itself is often helpful. It is amazing how the simple acknowledgment of your experiences and feelings can make a world of difference.
If you are an introvert and you struggle with anxiety, share what you have learned about coping in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, March 15). When You're an Anxious Introvert, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, July 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2022/3/when-youre-an-anxious-introvert