I’m a bit pooped today, so I’m gonna try not to be as longwinded as I usually am, but something I noticed in one of those introvert groups I’m part of on Facebook is the amount of social anxiety and depression memes (and misanthropic ones, too, for that matter) masquerading as introversion. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore dark humor and laugh all the time at social anxiety, depression and misanthropic memes, but none of those things are introversion! Here are my layperson broad definitions of each:
Social anxiety: In a colloquial sense, someone can be nervous or dread certain social situations and therefore, may consider themselves a socially anxious person. In a clinical sense, someone with a diagnosable social anxiety is someone whose life becomes diverted by the anxiety. That is, to avoid those social situations that make them anxious, they are deleteriously affecting their life.
Depression: Again, in a colloquial sense, people often will say they are “depressed” to mean they are sad or feeling blargh that day or even for a number of days. And in a clinical sense, we again mean that someone is in such a state of being (that doesn’t have to mean sad) that it’s deleteriously affecting their life. See the theme here? When a mental illness is interfering with your day-to-day life is when it reaches the point of being clinical and a problem to address.
Misanthropy: Someone who hates people and society. Typically, this involves some level of distrust and/or paranoia and/or cynicism of all people broadly speaking.
Introversion: When socializing with people, you almost feel like you’re running on a battery and after a while, you need to get away from the socializing to “recharge.” It’s not that you dislike socializing, but that it doesn’t energize you in the way it energizes an extroverted person. I also would say there’s the frontloading part of it, too. An introvert might feel like they have to “windup” to a social outing, whereas an extrovert wouldn’t even understand what I just meant by that.
So, someone could be clinically depressed and be an extrovert. Someone could be socially anxious and an introvert. I consider myself socially anxious, depressed and an introvert and there can be overlap in these categories, but they’re not the same things! I like socializing with people, but I do need and feel like recharging afterwards.
My mode is also to be fine by myself, whereas other people, the extroverts, almost can’t stand the thought of being alone. But I also get socially anxious in social situations and so, sometimes I will actively avoid social situations. However, it would be incorrect, I think, to put that at the foot of my introversion when it’s more of an anxious response.
And if I’m being honest, sometimes I catalogue my introverted social outings. That is, I’ll get proud of myself for doing a social outing because it both pushes my introverted and socially anxious self and then I’ll think in my head, Okay, I’m good for a week. Or, okay, I hung out with that person. They’re good for a month. Ha. Seriously, though.
I hope this helps!