Ask a Therapist: “What is the Difference Between Being Shy and Being Introverted?”

Both men and women who prefer to be in smaller groups or to spend time solo can be mislabeled as being shy, a wallflower, or even “antisocial” when that isn’t actually the case. Instead, it may just be a matter of where you feel energized and comfortable. In other words, it’s actually the difference between introversion and extroversion.

Being introverted, or an introvert, does not mean that you are socially awkward, and it DOES NOT mean that you have social anxiety. It simply means that you are best able to re-charge by yourself or with one other person, instead of in a crowd or at a big social environment.

You may appear reserved or quiet to others in the larger settings only because it is not where you feel completely energized even though you are enjoying yourself. An introvert can bring light and laughter to a large room of people and enjoy that social time. He or she just also needs to rest and relax by themselves to reenergize for the next day.

Introversion and extroversion are actually two ends of the same spectrum, meaning that every one of us has some measure of both. It isn’t really something you have or your don’t, we are all somewhere on a continuum. If you are an introvert (or more towards the introverted side than the extroverted side), there are also times that you feel great in a group (even a smaller one). It’s important to remember that humans are more complex than a few words can describe. For example, I want to immediately call up a friend and plan an outing when I am feeling down and/or tired (you guessed it, I’m extroverted), but I also love to be alone, quiet, and reflective after a social outing.

So consider yourself normal. Consider yourself healthy and excellent just the way you are. Go out with friends and then just remember to allow yourself the time you need to recharge by yourself so that you have the energy to connect again. If you can learn to respect who you are and set your life up to work for you, instead of needing to fit into someone else’s idea of who you “should” be, you will find yourself more and more content with who you are.”

Dr. Klein is a psychologist at The Catalyst Center. She excels in her work with people who are ready to get to know themselves on a deeper level and learn how to live they best life.

Call 720-675-7123 today to learn more about Dr. Klein and start to make you life work for you instead of forcing yourself to fit into someone else’s idea of who you ought to be.


Courtney Klein

Dr. Klein specializes in working collaboratively with people who are seeking to improve their relationships and their lives. She excels at treating more than just the immediate symptoms, rather addressing the whole person and treating the underlying causes of distress. By using this comprehensive approach she is able to help her clients achieve lasting change rather than just a quick, temporary fix. Sometimes you need a private place to be yourself where you can freely discuss your life with someone who can offer an outside perspective and help you to make the changes you are seeking. Dr. Klein excels at providing such a place for her clients: somewhere they can feel completely safe and supported in their process of growth.