Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Shyness

In following with my recent track of thought about introverts and extroverts, I was thinking about the concept of "shyness." When applied to human interactions, shyness is a manifestation of fear. Someone who is shy dislikes company as the result of some injury. This can be a real or imagined injury; a physical, mental, or spiritual pain; either having occurred in the past or believed fated to happen in the future. Simply put, the shy person fears he will be worse for the interaction.

This is a symptom commonly ascribed more to introverts than to extroverts. Being naturally opposed to outgoing interactions, large groups, and dynamic conversation, this is understandable. Introverts do tend to exhibit symptoms like shyness. They even commonly possess fear of injury from human interactions. So they are therefore more shy than extroverts—it is fair to say.

However, a tendency to withdraw from social events is a part of the introvert's natural disposition. It is their personal preference, and they have build up their strengths around this fact. An introvert's skill at composing a piece of music or writing a book, or even of capturing a character on screen is a direct result of their natural ability to be the proverbial "fly on the wall." What they cannot contribute to a conversation, they put down with eloquence on the page.

So to be shy is only a minor problem for an introvert. It is a fear that is almost not worth addressing, and certainly not worth beating out of them in the name of "productivity." Indeed, an introvert who is shy does not appear greatly different from an introvert who is not shy. The difference is only perceptible in their level of confidence. An unshy introvert is not afraid to ask questions for the sake of understanding, and they often enjoy a lengthy explanation.

To be shy and an extrovert is a vastly more serious problem. An extrovert's natural disposition is to talk, share, and try to involve others. When they possess the fear that interactions will harm them, their very nature causes them pain. Imagine you are a professional downhill skier, who just witnessed someone's severe injury on the slopes. You still have a passion for skiing, but now you have fear of injury. If you allow the fear to stop you, you will never achieve your full potential at your sport.

An extrovert's life is defined by social interaction. Without the ability to interact, they lack access to the source of their passions and purpose. In a way, they are cut off from their spirits. Having given in to the fear, they become like the walking dead, and simply follow orders—eagerly, but heavy-hearted.

These people possess the natural skills to be the movers and shakers. They are the ones to open doors for others. While introverts can side-step their shyness and still follow their purpose, extroverts must rush headlong through their shyness to reach their purpose. Introverts are able to express the plight of their shyness, and even to offer solutions, and ultimately this expression becomes their dream and fulfills their purpose. Extroverts who are shy can intake these expressions, and actually put the advice to good use—their dreams demand it.

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