Are you a shy extrovert? Are you energized from being around people, but not naturally outgoing? This personality type doesn’t get much press, and is often misunderstood. I want to shine light on this so my fellow shy extroverts can better celebrate your strengths and feel supported in your struggles.
An important piece of the slow lifestyle is creating space to look inside and really examine our mindset and habits. No longer living on autopilot, but rather in a way that supports our soul’s growth. Naming your traits and habits can be crucial in helping you understand yourself and how you interact with the world.
I never quite fit into the introvert or extrovert categories, so I just kinda ignored those labels. But when the Myers Briggs personality test revealed that I’m 76% extroverted, I had to learn more. How could someone who is as shy and socially awkward as I am be that extroverted? That’s when I discovered a new category: shy extrovert.
What is an Extrovert?
Let’s back up to the basics. What is an extrovert? According to Myers-Briggs, being an extrovert means you orient your energy toward the external world. Their website describes extroverts as the following:
“I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.”
Typically when we think about extroverts, we think of that outgoing, loud, bubbly person. The party animal who loves attention, interacting with others, and social functions. The charismatic person who loves speaking up, sharing their ideas, and working the room. That guy or gal who’s seemingly always comfortable and open in social situations. Someone who always has something to say.
Because of these stereotypical descriptions, I never thought I was an extrovert. I’m not loud. I clam up when I’m the center of attention. I certainly do not feel comfortable in all social situations. And I hate speaking up in large groups. This brings us to the classifier of shy extrovert.
What’s a Shy Extrovert?
The way I see it, there are 2 types of extroverts: an outgoing extrovert and a shy extrovert. The outgoing extrovert is that stereotypical loud, gregarious social butterfly. The shy extrovert is a little more nuanced. A little more confusing. More difficult to spot and name.
A shy extrovert is someone who becomes energized by being around other people, but likes to do so on their own terms. We don’t like to be the center of attention. We crave depth over surface level connection. We love people. We really love people. But we value close, intimate relationships over fleeting, surface level interaction. Sometimes our shyness is misinterpreted as pretentiousness, since people see us being super social in certain interactions, and then wonder why we’re not in other situations.
Understanding your tendencies will help you better understand yourself and relate to others. Below are common traits and signs you can use to determine if you are a shy extrovert:
Signs You’re a Shy Extrovert
You Prefer Small, Intimate Groups
Extroverts love being around people. It’s how you re-energize and fill your tank. But the shy extrovert prefers that interaction to be among friendly faces. You feel most comfortable with a manageable, intimate group. Even at a large party, the shy extrovert will hone in and find a small group to socialize with. As long as you have an ally or two, you’re golden. Rather than working the room, you’ll be deep in conversation with a few awesome humans.
You’re Happiest When You’re Uplifting Others
Shy extroverts are the best at encouraging others. You are deeply interested in other humans, so it’s only natural that you love supporting their dreams. You listen closely when they share their hopes, their fears, and their wildest desires, so you know exactly how to support them. Since you don’t like being the center of attention, you love uplifting others and helping them shine. Your whole world lights up when you see others shine, because you understand what it took for them to get there.
You Talk Through Everything
Talking and interacting with others is how extroverts process information. Rather than strategizing in your head, you prefer to talk it out. You talk. through. everything.
My boyfriend once jokingly asked me? “If you didn’t talk through something with multiple people, does that mean it didn’t happen?” What can I say? As an extrovert, having thoughts swirling around in my head, unexpressed, makes me feel totally overwhelmed. The quickest way for an extrovert to find clarity is by working through their issues with another human.
Everyone Feels Comfortable Confiding in You
You’re a great listener and you love learning about what makes other humans tick. Hearing people’s stories, their deepest passions and fears, is what gives life to the shy extrovert. Unlike the outgoing extrovert who has trouble quieting down, the shy extrovert loves taking the backseat and interacting through observation. Extroverts focus on the similarities between humans rather than the differences, so you’re naturally very open and nonjudgmental. Because of this, everyone feels comfortable confiding in you. Every time you meet someone, they’re telling your their deepest secrets right away. And you’re genuinely interested in every word.
You Crave Deep Connection over Meeting a Lot of People
As an extrovert, you light up when you meet someone new. But you want something different than the outgoing extrovert. Rather than meeting someone briefly and onto the next one, the shy extrovert want to know everything about the human you just met. You want them to be your best friend, your life partner, your trusted advisor. It’s like you want to date or befriend every human on the planet. You see the immense beauty, pain, and profound life lessons in each person. You want to feel their whole heart.
Your Friends Don’t Even Know You’re Shy
Shy extroverts confuse people. Your friends, family, and even close coworkers see you talking a mile a minute, gregarious and outgoing. But the second you’re put into an uncomfortable position, your personality completely changes and you become a quiet, withdrawn version of yourself. When you’re in a comfortable setting, you’re warm, open, and talkative. But when things become unfamiliar and feel unfriendly, you completely clam up. Because of this, your family and friends don’t often see you in your timid state. You’re deeply expressive when you’re comfortable, so people feel confused when you’re withdrawn.
You Love Being a Quiet Observer in a Crowd
People watching is your jam. You get so much life from just taking in other people’s energy. You’re like a sponge, quietly taking in your surroundings. Everything is art to you. Watching the subtle dance of flirtation between a new couple, they way your dog’s ears pin back when he’s excited, or the way your coworkers light up during conversation. It’s all beautiful and inspiring to you. Unlike an outgoing extrovert, you don’t have to be an active participant to draw benefit from being around others. Quiet observation feeds your soul.
Quiet Extroverts Unite
Well there you have it. Seven ways to determine if you’re a shy extrovert. I’m dying to know, are any of you shy extroverts? We’re a rare but lovable breed (if I do say so myself). Comment below if you relate to some of these character traits- which ones resonated with you?