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“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” Albert Camus
Not too long ago, I was assigned to lead a fairly large project at work. It involved heavy interactions with various departments, endless meetings, lots of brainstorming exercises, and more importantly—a need for a skillful and charismatic leader, who can build a good rapport with all types of groups and individuals.
For many—especially extroverts—this opportunity will present an outright prospect to shine in the spotlight—a harbinger of future successes and recognition, and possibly a solid step toward the pinnacle of one’s career. Of course, it doesn’t mean—we all know this—that an introvert is not going to be up for the challenge, nor that we can’t excel or exhibit preeminent managerial skills and talents. We are equally suited for the job, but such a high-visibility position comes with some acute preparation. It will simply require more mental priming and longer time spent in our “restorative niches,” thus— making our quiet times outside of work a precious gem, worth savoring.
But when we add another nuance to the situation above—if that introvert is also shy and suffers from social anxiety, things shift in a rather different perspective. Frequently, the ostensibly incompatible combination of introversion, shyness/ anxiety, and exemplar leadership can easily be foreseen as a recipe for a disaster.
It’s a well established fact that not all introverts are shy, nor are they socially anxious. Although these states may be closely linked, they are distinct. But research also tells us that introverts are, on average, more likely to be shy than extroverts.
The dynamics of the affair between introversion and shyness tend to exhibit a downward spiraling effect. That is, if one is shy and introvert, introversion intensifies our feelings of shyness, which—in turn—may lead to a further walk down the rabbit hole of social aversion and more acute craving of alone-time.
Admittedly, in work settings, the combination is inherently unwelcome, as it often reveals a poignant tale of self-dissatisfaction and perceived unworthiness. Fo