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'Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want To Come': How Introverts Can Triumph Over Social Anxiety [psmag.com]

 

Alexa Lee, Pacific Standard, May 30, 2019.

Jessica Pan was sitting alone in a sauna, fully clothed, when she realized that depression and loneliness had been destabilizing her entire life. With only a day left in her gym's weight-loss competition, she had stepped into the sauna in a last-ditch effort to shed some water weight and thereby end her year-long streak of "[feeling] like a loser." After stewing in the heat and yelling at a spa assistant, Pan realized in a panic that her desperation to clinch this minor fitness victory was fast unraveling her mental state.

"I had completely lost perspective," she writes in her memoir, Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes. "I had managed to wedge myself into a hole, through fear, insecurity, and stagnation."

Pan's moment of crisis in the sauna was perhaps the most dramatic point of her depression, but she says her anxieties date much further back. A freelance journalist in her thirties who had recently moved to London before the events described in the book, Pan tells me that discontent had begun to pervade her quiet, and increasingly isolated, life.

"I was 32, which is typically the age when we start losing our friends. I was in this big city that wasn't that friendly. All my friends were having babies or they moved away. And it just kind of hit me: 'Oh my God, I'm lonely.'"

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Lets not conflate introversion with trauma or anxiety.  Introversion has to do with drawing energy from solitude, quiet, puttering, nature.  Extroverts draw energy from big crowds, activity, interacting with others, and things like that.  

Scared or anxious people withdraw from others but that is not to say everyone who withdraws is anxious.  Some may be artistic, creative and happy.

I agree with Laura Haynes' comment. Introverts value connectedness, but may prefer gathering in quite, more intimate settings, or deeper conversation rather than small talk. Social anxiety disorder or other anxiety issues are unrelated to the introversion/extraversion spectrum,  which is natural in humans, but often misunderstood. 

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