The Shy Extrovert

I recently stumbled across a list which describes a personality type known as an “Outgoing Introvert.” You can read it here.

I didn’t identify with any of it.

If anything, it pretty much describes the exact opposite of me. So since we live in this world of creating categories of people to blend in with, here’s one of mine, the opposite of the outgoing introvert: the Shy Extrovert.

Introversion/Extraversion refers to your ability to gain energy and feel revitalized in certain social settings. More introverted people are more likely to feel refreshed by engaging in solitary activities, while more extraverted people are more likely to feel refreshed by engaging in conversation or other group activities. (These aren’t mutually exclusive, and most people are a little bit of both, but I’m sure that you, dear reader, can probably relate to one more than the other).

Outgoing/Shy can have a lot of meanings, but here I’m referring to how someone handles interactions with unfamiliar people, especially the initiation of those interactions. A more “outgoing” person confidently interacts with new people, and probably enjoys initiating. A more “shy” person feels more anxiety or awkwardness when interacting with people who aren’t close friends, and might find it very difficult to initiate. (These aren’t mutually exclusive, and most people are a little bit of both, but I’m sure that you, dear reader, can probably relate to one more than the other).

So a shy extrovert is someone who gains energy and feels revitalized by people and groups, but feels awkward around new people and finds it difficult to initiate with them.

So yeah, I can write lists too. Here’s a list about what it’s like to be a shy extrovert:

1. We crave interaction but have a very hard time getting it.

2. We don’t seem shy to close friends, because without the awkwardness of somebody new, we’re the life of the party.

3. With a close friend, we could have hours-long discussions, but with a casual acquaintance we can’t think of much more to say besides “nice weather, huh?”

4. We’re very sensitive to social cues and what other people are feeling. We have to be, otherwise we’d never make any friends ever.

5. Because of our extraversion, we love to talk, while because of our shyness, we love to listen. So,

6. We genuinely enjoy listening to other people’s problems, even complete strangers (within reason, of course. Just because we like people doesn’t mean we enjoy listening to you yammer on and on).

7. In fact, we’ll engage on pretty much anything you want to talk about, because engaging makes us feel good.

8. Parties are both amazing and terrible. There’s so much life exuding from the participants, and observing and participating in that gives us energy. But we’re also surrounded by strangers, and might end up stuck in the corner not talking to anyone. Going to a party alone is always a huge gamble, because,

9. Sure we like some alone time now and then, but usually it’s boring, isolating, and depressing. And being isolated while surrounded by people enjoying themselves is even worse.

10. We’ve been described by some people as “the quiet one” and by others as “loud and annoying.” (…well, I have anyway…)

11. Making friends is the worst. But having them is the best. We’re good on social media because we take a genuine interest in what people are doing, even ones we haven’t seen in a while.

12. If we act outgoing sometimes, it may be because we actively push ourselves to do so. (On more than one occasion in my life I have tried to observe how some of my extremely gregarious friends behave, then mimic that.)

13. We like organized activities like group classes, music ensembles, and sports or competition teams because they help us meet new people by giving us common ground.

14. We go out of our way to find people to hang out with.

15. In a good dating situation, we’re the one limiting how much we communicate: we could definitely talk more, as much as you like, but we don’t want to infringe on your space.

16. We often don’t bring up our own issues unless asked, because a) we’re afraid you don’t care, and b) we find yours more interesting anyway.

17. Conversely, we love sharing something we find exciting, because a) it might help strengthen the friendship and b) we like seeing other people get excited about stuff.

18. We desire and enjoy attention in the abstract, but then as soon as we have it we’d rather everyone looked away.


And there you go, it’s a list. If you’re so inclined, share your thoughts if you can relate to this, or if you think I’m full of shit.

(I haven’t found many other good sources on shy extroverts, but here’s a decent one: 7 Tips To Better Care For A Shy Extrovert.)


2 thoughts on “The Shy Extrovert

  1. Sam, I’m an ENFP and I relate with this article so deeply it hurts. Through my journey of personal discovery I’ve found myself confused as to whether I’m an introvert or extrovert, because it seems I’m caught in a catch 22 every day, yet now I do relate as a “shy extrovert”. Thank you for writing this!


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