An introvert and shy

45 thoughts on “An introvert and shy”

    1. Based on your post, which I just read, I suppose you could say I just “opened my suitcase.”

      I haven’t read Cain’s book. I’m sure I’d enjoy it, but given my age, I suspect I’ve already “been there, done that.” Maybe her book can help some younger introverts avoid the decades I spent in the School of Hard Knocks.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve been sitting on it for quite a while.

  1. I see myself in so much of this (including the blushing and crying). My mom is an extrovert, and I always marvel at how she can just talk to anyone, and I’m too shy to start a conversation with a store clerk I see all the time. Heck, even my hairdresser (and I really, really need to make an appointment) can’t get much out of me.

    Alone with Luke and my mom is about as outgoing as I want to be on an everyday basis. Of course, once I know someone, they can’t shut me up. 😉

      1. Add them to my credit union tellers and the people at my rental office, and we could have a block party.

        To watch from our windows, I mean.

        Apparently I’m an I/eNTJ. Used to be ENTJ, started testing INTJ in my late 30s. Might be ambiverted, as I feel like I’m an introvert in a room of extroverts, but an extrovert in a room of introverts. Even my hands are vague. Quick, hold your hands out in front of you, back of your hands facing you.

        Got it? Supposedly introverts naturally keep their fingers pulled in, whereas extroverts splay them outward. Me, first time I did it, my ring and middle fingers were together, the pointers and pinkies outward, kind of the opposite of Spock’s “live long and prosper.”

      2. Ooo, that hand thing sounds interesting. Hadn’t heard that before. Will have to look into it. My fingers were evenly splayed when I just did it. Might depend on how quickly you do it. A quick “hands up!” splays my fingers. A more thoughtful, graceful hands up would put my middle and ring fingers close together. Pulling all fingers in is just … awkward.

        Haven’t read much about ambiverts. Maybe the difference is not you but the people you’re with.

    1. If you substitute “force” for “talk,” you may have a good point. I avoided all chances to speak before groups during school years, although I was a good student. The U.S. Army (probably by mistake) decreed that I would be a Troop Information Specialist. That meant I gave speeches or introduced programs in movie theaters to groups of 200 to 300 men each week. I survived that for two years. Later, probably because of my Army credentials, I had several jobs that required me to speak to general public groups. I hated every minute of it.

      I am not a total introvert; I enjoy talking with people individually, and don’t have much problem communicating in small groups. But I detest to this day being forced to speak before groups, although I was forced for years to do so. Surely, because I wouldn’t do something unless forced, I also would not be able to talk or force myself out of doing it.

    2. So you’re saying you can “fake it till you make it”? I think that can be done on occasion, for a while. But I don’t believe you can permanently change your innate personality (there’s a genetic component). As for the article you cite, I did mention that Myers-Briggs and similar assessments had been widely discredited and cited a different article (there are a lot of them). But as scientifically invalid as they are, such assessments can still offer some food for thought and conversation.

      1. I see that as a contradiction and not logical; something that is discredited should not generate an acronym that one wears proudly. By that I mean, how can you identify with something that is discredited? It points more to that four letter classification as something you want for yourself rather than an accurate description based on sound understanding of behavioral and personality research.

        Then again, people tell me I’m too logical.

      2. Decades of personal observation, testing, and reading of behavior and personality studies have confirmed to me that INFJ, despite the shortcomings of the M-B methodology, is a reasonably accurate description of my major personality and decision-making traits. Otherwise I’d never use it.

    3. Don’t really want to get into these discussions because most individuals come with presuppositions about these things, usually based on their own conscious or subconscious preferences, but . . .

      You can, in fact, change your behavior to the point that others don’t know who or what you really are, and that old adage (if it talks and walks like a duck) applies to a degree.

      However, my main objections to these types of self-analysis or even canned analysis is that people latch on to something and basically convince themselves they can’t do this, can’t do that, can’t be this, can’t be that, all based on one or two things they identify with.

      Others convince themselves just the opposite, and study after study shows that circumstances matter and that things are not that clear-cut. What is clear is that people act based on their self-image (i.e. a very crude example is that people who tell themselves they can’t do math avoid doing math).

      For instance, you link introversion and shyness, but they are not linked (according to what I’ve read; for example

      The annoying thing for me is that I am labeled an extrovert while my preference is to minimize contact with people and social situations. Not because it makes me uncomfortable or unable to handle it.

      If I have to deal with people, I’ve very good at it and always was. Strangers, friends, makes no difference, but my private life, my preference, is solitude and no close friendships (I’m successful in that with the exception of my wife). I treat interactions with others almost like a job; something I have to do, so I might as well be good at it.

      Side note: it’s why I really like the internet . . . I have ultimate control over my interactions; when, where, and how much.

      I see making friends as adding to responsibilities I already have, and also adding an element that is outside my control, meaning that I lose a measure of control in my life. In my book, that is something to avoid.

      Anyway, as I said, I don’t want or need to argue it; take it as another perspective and one that some think is way off the mark.

      1. I stated at the beginning that I’m am both shy and introverted and was simply sharing my personal experience as such, not holding myself out as a behavioral expert. I then explained in detail, and rather emphatically I thought, that shyness and introversion are most definitely NOT the same thing. I didn’t link them; I was careful to make the distinction for the benefit of people who don’t understand they are different. I’m rather distressed that you missed that because I thought it was important. Maybe the title change and minor edits will help.

      2. One of the things I’ve learned quite early in my life is that many, many people are eager to assign labels to both themselves and others.

        My other observation about people is they like to take complicated things and simplify them. I have to tell you it’s not a trait I share nor one I like, but one I understand; it makes things easier for them, perhaps even gives them comfort.

        Anyway, I’m off now. Sorry for my intrusion. It won’t happen again.

    1. Me too. I’ve struggled with it for months (everything had already been used!). Couldn’t quite stomach “The Aging (or Ancient) Introvert.” Hope this one helps reinforce that shyness and introversion are different things.

  2. Hey, PT, kudos for baring your inner thoughts here. I must say that having followed your posts for several years now that I am not surprised by your self-analysis. I would have predicted what you describe. I have noticed that in your correspondence you never address your commenters by name. C’mon, Susan, give it a try. 🙂

    In your well-expressed thoughts I see manifestations of my own natural inclinations. In support of several of your commenters, I too believe that some change is possible. In my case, such change occurred in high school. My yearbook shows multiple activities for my senior year and nothing, absolutely nothing, for the first three years. I started dating that last year and my girl-friend’s mother influenced me to come out of my shell. It was transformative, although I admit my personality still has remnants of my former self.

    But of course, you may not want to change. But if you don’t, even at this late date, then why post your thoughts on the subject?

    My wife is more like my former self. She doesn’t like talk to strangers and feels a stab of stress when the phone rings unexpectedly. She has agoraphobia and takes imipramine for it. It works. I wonder, doctor’s daughter, if you have considered that as a possibility? The symptoms seem to fit.


    1. Hi, Jim. I don’t deliberately avoid addressing commenters by name, but in many cases I don’t know real names. And those who use screen names may not want their real names used (in those cases where I know their real names). But you’re right, I should make more of an effort.

      I’m content with my life and see no real reason to try to make any drastic changes at this point. I wrote this more as a just a thoughtful retrospective. (I have lots of time these days for “retrospecting.”) And I thought it might be of interest to other introverts, and perhaps enlighten a few people who don’t really “get” introverts.

      Agoraphobia, as I understand it, is an actual fear of going out in public or being in crowds because of possible panic attacks, an inability to escape, a fear of being trapped. I don’t fear those situations at all or go out of my way to avoid them. In general I simply prefer quieter, less crowded surroundings. But give me a great concert, a special sports event, a good movie — I’m in.

  3. Hi PT–
    The MBTI has been in my professional life for about 25 yrs or more now; always the I, but i seem to not be strongly tied to the other identifiers. First scored INTP, then to ISTJ, INFP, INFJ, and not really certain where it might land today. My offices have been using the DISCprofile recently. Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness are the four behaviors, then their questionnaire sorts the subject into the proper (?) categories. I have yet to be assigned this one.
    Appreciated your hard work, your sharing your personal journey, and explanations in this post; really liked the added quotes, the photos are great, and feel the title fits much better now.
    Dare i say you could score an “E” as a blogger? 😊

    Ps, tried the hand thing; my fingers were spread, but slightly curved, as if to catch something. Interesting–

    1. I’m not familiar with the DISC profile. Sounds interesting but the categories make me wonder if it isn’t subject to the same shortcomings as the M-B methodology. Yet for all the objections to categorizing people, we still need ways to understand people, their similarities, differences, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Employers need help in deciding who’s best suited for the job. I think no one test or assessment should be relied on and the shortcomings of each should be well understood. In the meantime, I’m sure the search for better, more accurate methods is an ongoing process.

      I love the added quotes, too. Spent a lot of time picking my favorites from the hundreds that are out there. They were an afterthought, and yet I saw my words echoed in them many times. Given the traits common to introverts, that probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.

      I credit disperser for the title change. His comments pushed me to keep looking for the better title I knew was needed.

      One of Susan Cain’s quotes up there mentions how the person who wouldn’t raise his hand in a lecture hall might blog to millions without a second thought. I thought it particularly apropos.

  4. Sounds as though you and I may be peas from the same pod. But given that fact, answer this for me if you will. Why, given all the above revealed in your post do we choose to blog?

    Actually at the moment I am no longer blogging but that has been the way I have done things ever since starting to blog in 2006. Blogging one moment, not blogging the next. But why do I blog at all? Blogging is certainly social interaction on some level and social interaction is something I will go out of my way to avoid. It is honestly a question that has bugged the hell out of me ever since I started! 😕

    I was a part-time musician and entertainer most of my life so you can’t get much higher on the scale of social interaction than that yet when my set was over I went back home and got under the bed where I belong. What, pray tell, is that all about? Vying to be the center of attention one moment and wanting people to forget you even exist the next!

    As to the blogging, I do love to write so perhaps that is what it,s all about. Past that… I remain clueless. So why do you blog?

    1. Well, I’ve always been a writer of one sort or another. Long, long letters when I was a kid. Journals and diaries as a teen and young adult. Sometimes with the intent of communing with others but often just my way of talking to myself, ordering and organizing my thoughts, capturing them in a form that let me return to them, reexamine and reconsider them, and later, remember what I was thinking and feeling at the time. Introspection made concrete. Blogging, I think, is just the most modern, easy platform upon which to continue those same activities. I’m more concerned about privacy, of course, and rarely get as personal as I did here, but I think the motivation is basically the same. (And of course any blog can function as a private diary, never being made public.)

      Blogging is social interaction, but at a safe distance, with controls, with time to consider one’s responses, and without the eye contact (!). Perfect for introverts, it seems to me.

      I’m not sure how to explain your experience as a musician and entertainer except to draw on what my son, an introvert (but not shy), once told me when he was acting in plays in high school. He wasn’t himself on stage; he was a character, a different person. I don’t recall what drew him into it in the first place (I’d have never considered getting on stage in front of an audience). Perhaps it was originally a class assignment. Or maybe the stagecraft attracted him first and then something drew him out of the wings.

  5. ha. my own just reward. here’s what happened.

    i was blown away by your touching tour de force of honesty and simplicity. so much so that i had tears of recognition all through it. it’s so beautifully written.

    i even wrote an overlong response about myself.
    luckily my computer crashed as i was about to press publish and it was lost.

    i always over talk. so no doubt this comment will become too long too. my apology in advance!

    i live an introvert’s minimalistic simple life alone and i love it. i have been a widow for 36 years.
    i was married for almost 16 years to my literal soul mate. why would i want or need to replace that?
    he truly was one of a kind. not an introvert. and yet we matched perfectly. i am still in love with him.

    holidays are the worst. no one leaves alone introverts nor understands them on thanksgiving and christmas.
    why on earth would one want to simply stay in their own little apartment and read good books and watch old sentimental classic christmas movies? alone??? why it’s simply UNTHINKABLE!!!

    my best friend in high school was a long dead englishman named henry david thoreau.
    i carried ‘walden pond’ around with me like a parson carries a bible.

    i used to ask my parents to say NO when i was invited to slumber parties. i could not stand nor understand all the giggling and the boy craziness. i was always the first one asleep anyway.
    i didn’t want STUFF or new clothes … so i didn’t relate to shopping trips. it’s not easy being an introvert in the teenage girl’s world. and yet i was in every school play and in the drama class competitions. and did well.
    go figure. i think many actors are introverts oddly enough.

    i’m a talkative introvert. and it’s now i see … simple camouflage. it was an early learned coping mechanism.
    my family moved every single year i went to school. i was constantly ‘the new girl.’ very uncomfortable.
    you never made friends. you made acquaintances. i was friendly and warm… and wanting to just go home.

    i wish i had the courage to move from here. my only family is my beloved brother. he lost his own wife to cancer too. three years ago. i only see him about once a week to eat with him at different restaurants.
    i would miss him terribly. so . here i stay.

    and yet i’m very independent.
    when recovering from major surgeries i’ve always lied when answering “is there someone to take care of you at home” when released from the hospital. i simply go home and take care of myself from the first day onward.

    i would love to live in colorado (i used to live there once) or some beautiful place like that again. so why don’t i do it?
    i’m not afraid to be alone or live alone. i never have been. so why do i not go? i say it’s because i would miss the marine (my brother) too much. maybe i live such a small simple life because i haven’t the courage to live another. i don’t honestly know. but i remain very content. and actually happy.

    it’s so good to see mr. wilson’s comment here. i was worried about him. now i see he’s in one of his non blogging times. and i so understand that. my own muse has been on vacation most of the summer.
    i say… “well. i’m glad at least one of us gets to go!”

    thank you for this wonderful post pied type. i will enjoy the links. i’ve never taken the tests mentioned.

    have you read ‘the introvert’s way… living a quiet life in a noisy world’ by sophia dembling? or ….
    ‘party of one … the loner’s manifesto’ by anneli rufus? they’re both excellent.

    1. Hi Tammy. So sorry your computer crashed like that. Always seems to happen to me when I’ve just spent an hour writing the most brilliant, thoughtful bit of prose ever!

      So much of what you say is so familiar. And you mention the holidays. Ack, holidays! I go into hiding when the Christmas chaos begins (earlier every year!) and don’t come out till after New Year’s. I hate the crowds, the traffic, the pressure everywhere to join in, party, celebrate, etc! A few hours with immediate family on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas is my limit, and if they happen to be out of town or go skiing instead, that’s fine with me.

      I can be a very talkative introvert too. With just one or two people, if I get really wound up about something, you can hardly shut me up. Then sometimes I realize later how much I was talking and get embarrassed.

      Moving, at best, is hard and it takes more than just courage. Nothing less than a compelling motive (and the means) gets me out of whatever rut I’m in, and moving is the toughest thing of all. Without the planets aligning just as they did, when they did, I’d probably still be in Oklahoma, and much less happy than I am here. I was lucky to have family in both places. I seriously doubt I could have moved away from my only family. I’m just not that brave.

      I understand your independence. I’m having my own comeuppance with that now, hating having to rely on others because I’m simply too sick at times to do for myself. But a little too much independence landed me in the hospital one night, so I’ve been appropriately humbled.

      I haven’t read the books you mention, nor Susan Cain’s popular book. I think subconsciously I might be thinking that by now I’ve found all my answers. Or maybe it’s just that I did so much reading when I was working that I’m burned out on reading.

  6. Intriguing post – both you self analysis, quotes, and research. It all sounds just like you.
    I can easily get up in front of groups – even very large ones and present on a topic or talk – there’s a stage and “distance” but social events and company parties with “small talk” really drain me and I prefer to skip them. I hate talking on the phone as there’s no body language and I can’t tell what people really mean or how they are receiving information – so I end up talking too much or talking over people. Ugh.
    I’ve always been able to amuse myself and don’t get lonely. As a kid I became very shy/quiet (introverted is different as you say) as my mother hated anyone who sparkled more than she did – and she always made it very clear no matter what I did it was wrong…so it was easier to be quiet ( and she complained then I was “shy”)
    It bothered me a bit in college until I found a book called “Be glad you’re neurotic” which discussed shyness and being introverted as not being such a bad thing – it’s just some people are more sensitive to clues given by people, by noise, by environment- or sensitive to life in general.
    So since then, it’s just I am who I am.
    I can adapt if I have to if I need a paycheck and force myself out on the stage in life, but solitude and the freedom that gives is not always a bad thing

    1. My mom wanted her daughters to sparkle. My sisters did naturally (how I envied that). I hated being put in the spotlight. Up to and including sorority rush, etc. I think my dad understood me but mom was the social director. Wish I’d figured myself out as early as you did, in college, and then been confident in that assessment.

      1. Never easy. I always have to keep myself from falling into easy comfortable pattern especially now that I’m not in an office setting. For the longest time I decided every 5 years or so people should reinvent themselves and do something very different – like a total different hair style (waiting…waiting….It’s a joke…There better be laughs coming from there….giggles)

  7. I just found out recently that I am an introvert, (but definitely NOT shy). It was my eldest daughter (a most exquisite extrovert) that taught me the difference, and viva la diff! I crave solitude. I relate to moving somewhere no one knows me (and therefore doesn’t expect anything of me), but that only for a while, as I would eventually get bored. Thanks for being so open.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful to have perceptive children who can bring perspective and enlightenment to our lives? They know us better than anyone and see things in us that we might not recognize in ourselves. Knowing and understanding that you’re an introvert is so much nicer than constantly wondering why you’re different (something I did a lot). Lucky you, not being shy. I’ve got that covered for both of us.

... and that's my two cents