In a society that's all about being fun and spontaneous, it can be difficult having social anxiety or just being an introvert. These are two terms that are often mixed up together. The question is are they the same thing or are they similar but on different spectrums. I took the liberty to do a little research on the topic and to finally answer my own question. Social anxiety or Introvert? Is there a difference, and can you be an introvert with social anxiety?
To start my research I wanted to look into the two definitions to see if there is any difference. By definition terms, social anxiety is the excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations, whereas introvert means to just concentrate or direct upon oneself.
So basically someone with social anxiety can't stand to be in big social structures due to the crippling fear of embarrassment. An introvert just prefers to spend evenings at home doing things they would rather enjoy doing. So there is a difference. Now can you have social anxiety and be introvert? The answer is yes.
I, myself, have social anxiety; I'm afraid of feeling vulnerable in a social situation particularly parties. Three years ago the guy my best friend was engaged to sexually assaulted me while dropping me off at my house. Though I wasn't in a social situation I was vulnerable and that feeling has stuck with me.
That, combined with the fear of having something slipped into my drink; which stems from an experience my mom had been slipped something in her drink by a girl who disliked her while at a club. That story has always stuck with me and made me a little bit wary about social situations involving drinks or alcohol. So going to parties and feeling comfortable is just a no-go for me.
I also suffer from anxiety in general, which can make big events kind of nerve-racking for me. An example of this was this year's St. Patrick's Day parade in my home city. Its a popular thing in my state and city to hold the World's Shortest St. Patrick's day parade. This year I found out they were going to feature the Budweiser Clydesdales and I knew I had to go.
I hadn't expected to have issues with my boyfriend, a sick dog, and a pissed off friend all at the same time though. That stress combined with the pressure of walking through a packed crowd of drunk people, and getting pushed around and stepped on while trying to locate my boyfriend resulted in me having a massive panic attack right on the sidewalk. It was awful, but I still saw those horses.
I'm also an introvert. I'm not particularly interested in partying, clubs/bars, and drinking. I prefer to sit at home and watch TV, work on cosplays, game, or just draw. Why would I want to subject myself to a group activity I wouldn't really enjoy?
Now there are occasions where I do feel like going out specifically if it involves movies or laser tag. I love swimming and hiking with friends, and I rather enjoy spending three sweaty days in a convention center all dressed up in cosplays. So, it's not a matter of if I like social things but rather what type of social situation I like.
So basically, yes, social anxiety and being introverted are two different scenarios that center around the concept of not being too big on social events. They are often mixed together while in reality, they are quite different. One is based on fear. Sometimes, it's an irrational fear and sometimes, it's a common fear fed by experiences. The other is the feeling of just wanting to be alone for no real reason. So...pretty much you just don't want to attend that party.
It is possible to be an introvert and have social anxiety, though that doesn't apply to all introverts. The two shouldn't be grouped together unless its necessary. There are also plenty of extroverts that also suffer from social anxiety. The most important thing to realize is that social anxiety is a derivative from anxiety and should be considered part of mental health issues. Being an introvert isn't a mental health issue. It's a personal choice.