Why being shy is mistaken for arrogance

By Crystal Earl

Oftentimes I find myself wondering if I really am the arrogant, short-tempered person I sound like in my head. I go over every painfully-awkward conversation until I’ve absolutely convinced myself that I am a terrible person.

I think to myself, “If I see these things, wouldn’t others notice this about me too?”

Evidently, the answer is yes, but it’s not because that is who I actually am.

Blogger Alex Barker explains it all in her article about social shyness. “Extreme self-consciousness can be mistaken as arrogance,” she said.

As high school students in a social setting, a lack of self-confidence can be displayed in many different ways. For example, there are students who turn to bullying, while others may avoid interaction with people all together. For the students somewhere in-between, it is common to feel antisocial around classmates they aren’t too familiar with.

Personally, I tend to keep to myself when I’m surrounded by people I have nothing in common with in regards to age, interests, etc. Yet when I get around to speaking with these people, I appear to be pretentious and unfriendly, when it’s actually the opposite.  When I am racking my brain over every tiny insecurity, simple conversation becomes so much more difficult. Simple conversations with people become more like inauguration speeches to shy people like me. Answering an easy question is more like an interrogation for a crime you never committed.

Although this is all going on in the shy person’s head, it is nearly impossible to keep it there. Self-consciousness is constantly displayed through conversation and interactions with others.

Shy people don’t start conversations because they’re scared of being rejected, which is often confused with being unfriendly.

They feel extremely self-conscious, and because of that spend a lot of time and energy on their appearances, though others confuse this with being vain.

Shy people often can’t look others in the eyes because they are too concerned with what other people will think, but some people confuse this as a lack of interest.

They give short responses because of anxiety, but some people confuse this with thinking they are “not worthy” of your time.

As shy people, we adopt a defensive or “stay away” body language because we feel self-conscious though others confuse this with rudeness.
No matter how innocent someone’s intentions may be, it is never interpreted the way it really should be. But why?

“Much of the confusion comes from other people’s insecurities. As socially anxious or shy people, we often assume everyone else is confident or happy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. People have many insecurities that they won’t even admit to themselves,” Barker said.

Everyone is too busy trying not to embarrass themselves. When people worry what others are thinking about them, they receive the impulse to shut down. Ironically, it turns out that many people are thinking the same exact thing as the shy person. People think that the world is focused on them and them only, when actually, everyone is all too focused on themselves.

If people were to just open their minds and their mouths with a smile, everyone could help each other through the painstaking process of acquaintance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s that easy to rid ourselves of social anxieties. I’m saying by understanding that everyone is caught up in their own lives can help. Viewing this issue from a simpler standpoint, most stress we face in everyday life can be at least somewhat alleviated.  

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