Am I an introvert or do I suffer from anxiety or lack of confidence?
You can be an introvert or you can suffer form anxiety, feel unconfident or all three! Everyone is different but there are common symptoms for each. As an introvert I know there are certain situations that feel me with dread and make me feel anxious including:
• Taking part in competitive events
• Work meetings
• Answering the phone when I don’t recognize the number
• Dealing with angry people / confrontation
• Going somewhere new for the first time alone
• Being singled out – even if for something good
• Making small talk
• Shopping and asking for help
I could go on and list many more, but if you are reading this blog then you can surely relate to at least one of these but more likely most of them.
Introverts tend to be labelled as shy and quiet but that does not mean as an introvert you do not have confidence. Extroverts are known as outgoing, loud, centre of attention but that does not mean they do not get anxious or feel nervous in certain situations. We all have our own comfort zone, some are small, some are large but regardless of our personality when we step outside our comfort zone we feel nervous, anxious and even shy.
If you are heading into a presentation and you are nervous about speaking, that does not mean you are an introvert or that you lack confidence. It is far more likely that you are just a little anxious about how you will sound, how your audience will react and that is normal for most people, introvert or extrovert (or somewhere in between!)
However, if you are an introvert, you like your own company, stay away from crowds and parties and prefer not to be centre of attention then it is likely your feelings of anxiousness and lack of confidence can be more intensified. That is because mostly we are deep thinkers, often overthinking everything.
Do you play the “what if game?”
What if someone talks to me?
What if someone ask me a question I cannot answer?
What if someone makes eye contact?
What if I forget what I’m saying?
What if the power goes out?
What if I feel sick?
What if a hurricane hits……….?
I am guilty of going trough a thousand “what if’s” prior to doing something I am not comfortable with – i.e outside my comfort zone. In my head I ask as many “what if” questions as I can and have an answer for them. I try to think of worst case scenarios and how I would handle them so that I am prepared. Of course usually none of the “what ifs” actually happen and I have wasted much time and energy worrying about things that will never be. Sound familiar? Now is that a lack of confidence? Maybe? But I know I can be confident when I need to be. I will speak up, even if it makes me feel a little uneasy. So I don’t think I lack confidence, but I do get anxious because I don’t like being centre of attention or speaking out. These are both outside my comfort zone.
Introverts and Extroverts can be similar!
Introvert, anxiety, lack of confidence can all be entwined and none of them define all that you are. I am an introvert and am not concerned at having that label, because I know it is not all that I am. It is just a word that “helps” to describe my personality.
I have friends that are extroverts, yes I really do! Whilst I sometimes find time in their company exhausting, it can be enjoyable as there is already someone that wants to talk all night, wants to be centre of attention and that takes any pressure off me. So somehow it works. And because they are friends and know me well, they understand me and make me feel comfortable.
What I find interesting in conversations with my more extrovert friends, who seem to have it all, be bubbly, happy, confident, sociable and popular, often this is a façade. For some whom I have actually had deep conversations with they admit that it is almost like an act they put on and it is how they deal with their anxiety and lack of confidence. In the quietness of their own space, they also over think, worry and feel insecure.
For some people anxiety is a very serious problem and can lead to depression. Mental health is becoming a much more acceptable term, thankfully, and we should all take it seriously. If your feelings of anxiety are overwhelming please make sure you seek help and support. There is so much available now and you are not suffering alone and do not need to. Depression will be the subject of another blog another day.
For all introverts and extroverts out there, remember we all get affected by anxiety, lack of confidence because at the end of the day we all have fears. They maybe different but we all have them. It makes us normal human beings and we should always support each other.
Till next time – JJ