Though some people thrive in large groups, most confident when they're the center of attention, meeting endless numbers of new people, or putting themselves out there, others are far more shy. And while some people truly are shy (or have their introversion mistaken for shyness), it could also be something else. There are some signs your shyness is actually a greater mental health condition, which, if you tend to be shy, you might need to know. But shyness can take many forms, so recognizing what it looks like for you — and what's typical and what might be a bigger deal — is really important.
"Shyness shouldn't be equated with being an introvert," Dr. Sheila Addison, PhD, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. "Confidence is the opposite of shyness. Many people who are shy are also quite extroverted — once they feel comfortable entering into a conversation, they really enjoy some of the interactions they have, they feel energized by having a good rapport with other people. Some shy people are just fine with people they know well, or in very small groups or one-on-one situations. Some are even only situationally shy, and are great public speakers! If they have a role to play, and they feel prepared, no problem. It's when the situation is new or unknown, and they're not sure what the social expectations are or how they'll fit in that they experience shyness. It's very hard to be an extrovert who enjoys other people, but lacks the confidence to make connections and navigate unfamiliar situations."
If you notice certain signs in connection with your shyness, it could be worth your while to talk to a professional who can help you determine if it's shyness or not, once and for all, and help you work through what might be going on.