Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety?
There is often some confusion around the terms “introvert” and “extrovert”.
With the popularization of the terms over the last few years, some of the meaning has gotten lost, and they’re sometimes seen simply as being shy or socially awkward vs confident people.
That’s not really the case, however – there’s a bit more to it than that.
Rather than simply being confident people, extroverts are people who get their energy from social interaction – being the life of the party is something that pumps them up. In contrast, introverts get their energy from being alone.
People also sometimes assume that extroverts never suffer from social anxiety, but that’s not necessarily true. In this article, we’ll go into the details as to why.
What Is An Extrovert?
Extroverts are people who get their energy from being around and interacting with other people. They tend to have outgoing personalities and are sometimes described as the kind of person who’s the life of the party and the center of attention.
They generally don’t need – or even like – to spend a large amount of time alone to “recharge their batteries”. They tend to like being in large groups and are often the ones who are keen to organize events and activities.
What Is Social Anxiety?
A lot of us know someone who suffers from social anxiety, even if we don’t suffer from it ourselves. It is a very common thing for most people to experience at one point, whether temporarily or permanently.
It makes us feel nervous and self-conscious when we have to interact with others, and can be very difficult for some people.
The effects can range from a simple awkwardness in speaking to people (especially new people) to, in the most extreme cases, a total inability to enter into social situations at all.
Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety?
While you might think that extroverts are immune to the fear of social anxiety, this isn’t completely accurate.
Extroverts thrive on their social relationships, and that leaves them open to fears about those relationships. For example, they might be concerned about how another person perceives them or their actions.
Truth be told, your personality traits don’t give you immunity to social anxiety. At its root, social anxiety is a fear about how others perceive you, and that kind of fear can affect anyone. It also presents a particular problem for an extrovert.
If an introvert has social anxiety, it’s far easier for them to avoid social situations, since they generally don’t mind spending time by themselves.
Extroverts, on the other hand, need social contact to keep themselves happy, but if it comes with constant anxiety, then they can end up being depressed and downcast.
How To Deal With Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is quite different from general anxiety, which tends to arise because of things going wrong – like a bad day at work or exams.
Both forms of anxiety will present as feelings of fear and panic, so if you start feeling anxious at social gatherings and based on your interactions with others, you might have social anxiety.
While both types of anxiety can cause trouble, social anxiety is usually caused by a fear of negative judgment toward yourself.
This means that if you notice that your anxiety arises from a fear of being judged as inadequate by others, this is likely to be social anxiety.
Some people have fears about meeting strangers, having conversations with strangers, public speaking, group discussions, etc. In short, anything where you may feel out of your comfort zone.
These kinds of fears can be extremely debilitating, and they’re often rooted in childhood experiences, so getting past them is just as hard as overcoming any type of social phobia.
It’s important to remember that while these feelings are uncomfortable, they’re not dangerous.
Many extroverts are afraid of socializing with people because of something they’ve experienced in the past, and they’re not necessarily being honest with themselves about that.
However, there are ways to help reduce social anxiety. Here are some tips:
Learn More About How People Behave And React To Each Other
Don’t assume that everyone will be friendly and nice; they won’t always be. You might find that talking to some people is easy, and that it’ll take a little bit longer to talk to some people.
Understand Why You’re Reacting Negatively To Certain Kinds Of Behavior.
Even if you aren’t sure what someone does or says that makes you uneasy, try observing yourself and seeing whether you have a reason. Remember, when we’re nervous, we tend to jump to conclusions.
Practice Before You Get Comfortable
When you go out with friends or family members whom you know well, do small things at first. For instance, say hi instead of waving, smile slightly, look into their eyes, ask questions, tell jokes, share stories, etc.
Avoiding Social Situations Isn’t A Good Solution To Your Problems
But, if you truly want relief, then you should make it a priority to improve your social skills. Your ability to enjoy social occasions doesn’t depend solely upon your personality, and neither does your success in life.
There are many reasons why you might struggle socially, and simply avoiding social situations won’t solve all of your problems.
Talk Over Old Worries With A Friend Who Will Listen.
Friends will respect you for trying to understand your situation and deal with it honestly. They will also offer encouragement if you don’t think you’re up to facing certain challenges.
Look For Opportunities To Help Others
Volunteering is one way to meet new people, while helping others helps you build self-confidence.
It takes time to develop your confidence, but once you have it, you’ll start noticing that people treat you differently, and you’ll enjoy doing new things.
Find Groups Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
A lot of extroverted people shy away from joining groups where they will need to speak up, but that’s where real friendships can happen.
Make an effort to join more groups or activities that involve more interaction, and give it a chance rather than just avoiding them. Keep putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, and see if you can handle them.
Mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress, and it can lower social anxiety too. Practicing mindfulness techniques allows us to focus on whatever is happening right now without focusing on future events and possible outcomes.
So, in summary, it is certainly possible for extroverts to struggle with social anxiety, just as anyone can. However, there are still things they can do to attempt to work past it.
A little social anxiety is not uncommon, but if it starts to seriously limit what you can do, then it might be best to seek professional advice.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: February 28, 2024