I’m Not Shy; I Just Don’t Want to Talk to You

By: Miranda Lapides

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I am an introvert; there’s no doubt about it. I used to feel bad about it too, like whenever I left a group hangout to go relax in my dorm and be by myself, or when I chose to have dinner with Netflix rather than a friend (how else am I supposed to catch up on Breaking Bad?). I used to associate my introversion with shyness, therefore not accepting it positively until I learned the distinction between the two terms.

The dictionary definition of introversion is “the direction of or tendency to direct one’s thoughts and feelings toward oneself.” This is a part of it, but when comparing the term to its opposite, extroversion, it’s all about “recharging.” Introverts gain energy through solidarity to balance out the energy spent in social situations while extroverts recharge through social situations. Therefore, introversion is said by psychologists to be a motivation because wanting to socialize with others or wanting to be alone depends on the amount of socializing that just took place.

Shyness, on the other hand, is defined as “feeling nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people; tending to avoid something because of nervousness, fear, dislike, etc.” Unlike introversion which is more of a motivation, shyness is a behavior in that it is biological. It is a minor form of social anxiety disorder. I could get into more detail but that’s a whole other article.

The main point is that taking a break from socializing is not the same as fearing it. Not every introvert is shy and not every shy person is an introvert. To study introversion and shyness, psychologists Jonathan Cheek and Arnold Buss administered a questionnaire measuring shyness and low sociability to college students and found a low correlation between shyness and low sociability.

The two can definitely overlap, though. According to Carl Jung, introverts “have an inward flowing of personal energy…The introvert is usually happy alone, with a rich imagination, and prefers reflection to activity…the introverted attitude includes a tendency to be shy.”

When the two overlap, it is easier to overcome shyness than change an introverted personality. For example, I used to be a much shyer introvert. Today, I am an introvert who is only slightly shy at first then eases into conversations and gets comfortable with them quickly. After a while though, my introversion kicks in and I need to take a break from people. I just need some time for myself to read or surf the Internet until I have enough energy to socialize again. I used to think this was because I was a shy person until I learned this is not the case. Shyness and introversion can overlap, but at the end of the day, they are two different terms and should not be used interchangeably.

Sources:

Dembing, S. (2009, Oct. 10). Introversion vs. shyness: the discussion continues. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/200910/introversion-vs-shyness-the-discussion-continues.

Gregoire, C. (2013, Jul. 29). 6 things you thought wrong about introverts. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/introvert-myths_n_3569058.html.

Introversion. The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/introversion.

Markway, B. (2013, Feb. 12). A quiet rant about introversion and shyness. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shyness-is-nice/201302/quiet-rant-about-introversion-and-shyness.

Shy. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shy.

Wardy, A. (2002, Oct. 27). The science of shyness: the biological causes of social anxiety disorder. Serendip. Retrieved from http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f02/web1/awardy.html.

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Tips for managing test-taking anxiety

By: Christi Sabin

Photo by Jerine Lay, obtained from Flickr under CC license.

Photo by Jerine Lay, obtained from Flickr under CC license.

It’s that day–nobody’s favorite day–TEST DAY! But you studied hard, you know you know the material, so you should do just fine, right? In theory, yes, yet something starts to happen when you sit down with that test–your mind starts racing, your heart starts pounding, you feel so nervous and you don’t know why–then you suddenly cannot remember the material you studied! If this sounds like you, then you are experiencing test anxiety. Now, of course you will feel anxious if you know you are not prepared for a test–as you probably should be, but what I am talking about here is an inability to focus and concentrate on a test when you have properly prepared for it. I will discuss some ways in which you can overcome the overwhelming feelings of test anxiety and perform to the very best of your ability.

  1. Unload: Recent research has shown that students who write down their fears about the exam right before taking it tend to do better. This is because when you are nervous about taking your exam, your working memory becomes overloaded, so dumping out the fears on paper frees up space in your mind to better concentrate. The time allotted for writing was 10 minutes in these studies, so try to make time before the exam if you are able to.
  2. Just breathe: Deep belly breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing) can relax the physiological stress symptoms associated with stress very quickly. While you are sitting, just breathe in slowly through your nose and let the air come down to your belly, and let your belly expand fully, then slowly exhale through your mouth or nose. Repeating this a few times should decrease your blood pressure and heart rate, and leave you feeling more relaxed. I would recommend practicing this before test day so you know how to do it properly, it sounds easier than it is, we tend to breathe in more rapid and shallow breaths in our day-to-day hectic lives.
  3. Go to your happy place: Use visualization to imagine a calm, peaceful place, or just anything that brings you a sense of calm that you can imagine. This in and of itself can be useful, but there is also a technique called the ‘Palming Method’, which involves placing the palms of your hands over your eyes (without touching the eyes) and placing your fingers on your forehead so that you are basically cupping your hands over your eyes. Visualization with or without using the palming method in combination with the deep breathing described above can help to physically relax you even further.
  4. Combat negative thinking: If you tell yourself you are going to fail, you probably will. Make sure to keep counteracting this negative self-talk with positive statements, the power of your thoughts is indeed a powerful thing. If you practice the relaxation techniques above, you may find it easier to think positively when you are in a relaxed state.
  5. Start with what is easier for you: On a multiple-choice exam, start with the questions that you know right off the bat, and then go back to the ones you were not as sure of the second time around. By this time, you should be feeling more relaxed and confident, so you will be thinking more clearly.
  6. Don’t rush: It can be anxiety-provoking to see other students finishing their tests first, but that doesn’t mean that you should rush as well. I always go over my exam one final time to make sure I didn’t make any careless errors the first couple of times around.
  7. Go with your gut: Most of the time it’s better to stick with the answer you chose originally. Sometimes nervousness can cause us to second-guess ourselves, but only change your answer if you know that you got it wrong because you misunderstood or read it wrong the first time around, or maybe you guessed the first time and now the information has come flooding back to you since you are (hopefully) more relaxed.

References:

Harvard Medical School. (2009). Take a deep breath. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/May/Take-a-deep-breath

Middle Tennessee State University. (n.d.). Survival Strategies for Taking Tests. Retrieved from http://capone.mtsu.edu/studskl/teststrat.html

Nauert, R. (2011). Journaling Before Exam Can Relieve Test Anxiety. Psych Central.    Retrieved on October 24, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/01/14/journaling-before-exam-can-relieve-test-anxiety/22665.html

University of Houston-Clear Lake Counseling Services. (n.d.). Test Anxiety. Retrieved from http://prtl.uhcl.edu/portal/page/portal/COS/Self_Help_and_Handouts/Files_and_Documents/Test%20Anxiety.pdf

University of Illinois at Chicago Academic Center for Excellence. (2012). Strategies of Multiple Choice Exams. Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/depts/ace/multiple_choice.shtml

Worchester Polytechnic Institute. (n.d.). How to Reduce Test Anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.wpi.edu/Images/CMS/ARC/How_to_Reduce_Test_Anxiety.pdf