Social anxiety and Introversion are often compared, but they are quite different.
In order to understand why these two aren’t interchangeable, we much first understand what is introversion. Introversion means that your battery gets recharged when you are alone and it gets drained when you are being social. Extroversion is the contrary. It means you get your energy recharged by being around other people. Like sexual orientation, you are either born an introvert or an extrovert. Our current society tends to value extroversion, but the human race needs both to thrive and grow.
It is very easy to assume that introversion equates having social anxiety since introverts prefer their inner world to the outer world. Finding social situation and small talk draining is much different than having social anxiety.
Introverts also have a preference for deeper conversations over small talk. This means that we prefer smaller groups than the larger one. In larger social gathering, we will tend to stay quiet, observe, and listen. We like to reflect on our thoughts before speaking them. We will listen to you and encourage you instead of talking about everything and anything. It’s not that we don’t like to talk. It’s not that we are feeling anxious about talking. On the contrary, it’s that we talk only when we have something valuable to contribute. We are comfortable with silence. We do not seek to cover it with words.
I often wish that more people would take the time to process their thoughts before saying them out loud. There is something to be value in understanding what is going on around you before interacting or reacting to a situation.
Social anxiety is a fear, a worry that is accompanied by physical symptoms. Social anxiety causes an important level of distress and it completely consumes you. It prevents people who suffer from it to function and behave normally in social situation. It’s not the same as preferring a meaningful conversation over small talk.