When I was young, I considered myself shy. I liked to be alone either reading, riding my bike or just being out in nature. I knew that I was timid when meeting others for the first time so I just thought, I’m shy.

My teenage years

When I got older, I realized that I am more an introvert than shy. Although, those who know me laugh when I say that I’m an introvert. But, I understand this. Because, while I have introverted traits, I can also be the life of the party when I decide to be. And, this is why some people think I am a true extrovert.

Me as an adult

Debra White - Author
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Now, I am generally quiet when meeting people for the first time. However, once I get to know them I open up.

I enjoy interacting with friends but do not need to be with them all the time. Once there is a purpose, I get together and have a great time. The purpose may be catching up because we have not seen each other for a while. But, I really don’t enjoy being with a group of people for small chit chat or gossip. That frustrates me and makes me anxious. Furthermore, if I am going to get together with people or friends, I prefer smaller groups than larger ones. Intimate is better!

But, even more so, I really enjoy my alone time – biking, running, playing with my dog, reading, writing and the like. It relaxes me, and clears my mind.

Taking photos
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Biking with my dog
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What does it mean to be shy, introverted or extroverted?

Many people think that if you are shy or anxious that you are an introvert. That is not necessarily true. Although the dictionary gives introverted as a synonym for shy, when you look at their meanings they mean very different things.

The meaning of shy as described in the Oxford dictionary is “being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people.” An introvert means you are “focused on your internal thoughts, feelings and moods and like being alone,” whereas extroverts “find energy in interactions with others.” You can also be shy and get anxious but that does not make you an introvert. However, I can be both depending on my mood. Haha!

When being a perfectionist is in the mix

I discovered that because I like things done a certain way, I tend to become anxious when presenting or having a function. The reason is that I want everything to be perfect. Once everything is going well then I am able to relax and enjoy the moment.

In high school I was quiet, yet participated in things I was interested in, such as track and drama. However, I wanted to do these things when I wanted to do them, not when instructed to do them. Therefore, when I was forced to participate, I would get ill, literally. My anxiety kicked in because I felt the need do it the way the instructor wanted it done. That is when I made the decision to do only what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. I learned how to bow out graciously.

I became involved with many after school clubs in my last two years of high school. Many people may think this is the sign of an extrovert. However, I did not want to meet or hang out with a lot of people. I had a purpose for doing this. I wanted to hold posts in many clubs and have interesting extracurricular activities to increase my chances of getting into the college that I wanted to attend.

Overcoming anxiety

Once I began college, I realized I had to learn to do things I did not necessarily want to do and when I did not want to do them. So I enrolled in a speech class. And, guess what? The first speech I gave, I literally passed out! Yes, you read that correctly! Haha! And, do you know what else is funny? The teacher was prepared. He had smelling salts! Do you know what he made me do? That’s right, he told me to get back up there and do my speech. And, I did. I did pretty well too because I knew what I was talking about and I had practiced. I enjoyed the question and answer session after because I liked the subject and the other students were also interested in it.

That process taught me a few things. Firstly, I was not the only person who got anxious when giving a speech. Secondly, once I know my subject or what I am talking about I will do a good job. Therefore, I must always be prepared. Last but not least, I enjoy speaking about things that matter to me.

Pre-launch Book Party
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Being prepared

Now, this does not mean that because I am prepared, I won’t have the anxiety. No, because I am still a perfectionist. But it helps lessen it. When I know my material, calm myself, smile and engage the audience, I actually enjoy the outcome. A big smile can calm the worst anxiety!

Debra White - Author
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So, now that I am an author and speak with many people, I remind myself, “You know your book, your story and people are interested. Just smile, take a deep breath and engage the audience.”

To sum it up – I get pleasure in speaking about things I know and like as well as speaking with people who want to hear what I have to say. However, I prefer to speak among smaller groups over larger ones. So all in all, I believe I am a good mix of introverted and extroverted with a little shy and anxious sprinkled in.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you wish to ask a question or leave me a message, I welcome it! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your comment, question or to just say hi. Thank you!